Sunshine Coast nonprofits were among B.C. arts and culture organizations to receive funding this year from the provincial government's Community Gaming Grant program. More than $120,000 in funds were spread between eight institutions.
Anne Kang, the province's newly-appointed Minister of Municipal Affairs, this week released the full list of 162 community organizations across B.C. funded for arts and culture programming this year. A comparable number of sports initiatives also received money from the program, which annually distributes commercial gambling revenues.
Deer Crossing The Art Farm, based in Gibsons, received an injection of $30,000 for its community engagement programs.
"I think it speaks to the programming we offer, and the people who are doing the programming," said Chad Hershler, founder and director of Deer Crossing The Art Farm. "The one distinction with gaming funds is it gives you some dexterity with how you can use it to support some of your operations, which a lot of other funders won't allow."
Other grant-making bodies stipulate that funds cannot be used for salaries. The Community Gaming Grant does not restrict its contributions in that way.
Hershler's organization applies the funds in part to its Little Hands program, a creative drop-in in Lower Gibsons for pre-schoolers and home-schooling families with primary age children. The activities focus on use of natural and recycled materials.
In Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Arts Council benefitted to the tune of $25,000.
"After a long hiatus, we returned to getting this grant last year," said Sadira Rodrigues, the council's curator and director. "It essentially provides free activities [to the public], allowing us to pay artist fees, for exhibitions, and speakers' fees, so we can provide programs accessibly to our community."
Gaming funds contributed to the council's fibre art youth mentorships and exhibition as well as investment in a downtown weaving studio set up in collaboration with the shíshálh Nation.
"It supported our community banner programs where we showcase youth work, but also intergenerational shíshálh banners," Rodrigues added. "It supports anything that is in community that allows us to engage."
Also headquartered in Sechelt, the Coast Recital Society received $19,500, an amount designated almost entirely for performer fees, according to Recital Society secretary-treasurer Alec Tebbutt.
"It helps us get artists that might be a little more difficult to get," Tebbutt said. "It's been an awful couple of years for artists and for us, that this makes it better for the whole artistic community."
The Recital Society runs an annual fundraising campaign, whose proceeds dropped last year due to COVID restrictions. In addition to regular concerts, the Society also organizes outreach for visiting artists like its recent guest artist, cellist Elinor Frey.
"Elinor really contributed to all sorts of things in the community," Tebbutt said. "We had her doing a workshop for cello students, and then she met [local string instructor] Sarah Poon and they talked and played gamba for a full hour."
The Driftwood Players Society of Gibsons is applying its $17,500 windfall to rebuilding its capacity for live theatre productions, which was diminished by the COVID shutdown.
"We've managed to put on two full scale mainstage productions this year," said Bill Forst, Driftwood's treasurer, "as well as the very successful Halloween show at the museum, despite having very little ticket sales income over the past two years."
Driftwood is the oldest extant community theatre group on the Sunshine Coast. It has run live theatre, pop-up productions and classes for more than 50 years. A portion of the gaming funds benefit the Driftwood Theatre School, which offers drama instruction to youth and adults.
The Coast String Fiddlers, a youth performing group based in Gibsons, received $8,000 in grant funding. The popular string ensemble is currently running workshops with music educator and performer Serena Eades.
Madeira Park's FibreWorks Studio and Gallery Society netted $8,000. FibreWorks offers exhibitions throughout the year and is presently showing creations by members until Dec. 18.
The Coast Rogue Arts Society, which will run its next multidisciplinary Rogue Fest from Aug. 18 to 20, 2023, received an investment of $8,000. The Pender Harbour Music Society garnered $5,000 to sustain its annual concert series that in 2022-2023 features 11 marquee performers.
Province-wide, more than $4.4 million were disbursed this year in Community Gaming Grants. "Healthy, vibrant communities are key to a healthy, vibrant province," said Minister Kang, "and these grants are one way our government is helping people in communities thrive.”