By Derick Deonarain
The Ontario Liberal party is facing criticism after announcing cuts to funding for community events.
The backlash comes on the heels of the provincial government awarding multi-millionaire, Toronto rapper Drake a $300,000 government grant for his two-day OVO Fest this summer in Toronto.
The provincial grant entitled Celebrate Ontario 2014 is meant to help new or existing Ontario festivals enhance their programs, activities and services that will lead to long-term improvements, according to the official government website.
The grant is essentially in place to help grow tourism and boost visitor’s spending money, the website says.
OVO Fest, an annul summer music event at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, will see Drake and rap-duo Outkast headline the festival on Aug. 3 and 4.
According to Ticketmaster, admission prices ranges from $66.50 to $750 for “platinum” two-day tickets.
While Drake’s festival is a for-profit-event, the Toronto Beaches International Jazz Festival, which lost its funding, is free.
The jazz festival got $75,000 in annual funding for the last six years. But last week it was one of the community events the Liberal government cut funding to saying it no longer qualified for the Celebrate Ontario grant.
That decision to cut funding to Beaches festival is not sitting well with some.
“It’s always been an opportunity for some of the younger kids to perform there and get seen by a larger group of people, “ said Andy Pryde, Humber College professor for Jazz Performance.
Pryde explained that if funding continues to get cut he worries that opportunities for Humber’s up and coming jazz students to be seen will be hurt.
“They wouldn’t be gaining a new audience. The newer people [wouldn’t have] an enriched aspect of their life, if the festival were to stop. You don’t know that you missed it or what you’ve missed if you’ve never been there,” he told Humber News.
While Humber students may be affected by the loss, some musicians are also worried about what the future may hold for events like the jazz festival.
“The fact that they’re taking away [money] from projects that are for the betterment and celebration of the Toronto music scene is very sad. The lack of funding will ultimately kill the whole event,” said Kaylah Athanas, a singer from Neo Soul band Ashley Bea.
“Its only a matter of time before they start chipping away at other important art based events in Toronto,” she added.
The Beaches International Jazz Festival brings in more than 1 million people every year, according to the event’s official web site.
Drake’s OVO Fest brings in only 16,000 people based on official seating numbers for the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre.
The contrast in numbers has led to some tax payers criticizing the provincial government’s decision.
Evan G a local Toronto DJ who plays house music for Toronto night clubs such as Guvernment and Koolhaus said he’s never been to the jazz festival but feels there’s something wrong with the decision made.
“Frankly I don’t even care for jazz, but that is where I would prefer my tax dollars be directed as it would have a far greater benefit to the community as opposed to some rich dudes,” he said.
To hear the full audio interview with Humber’s Jazz professor Andy Pryde listen here: