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THE SCOOP | The Federal Government Announces Cash For Festivals & Events In Southern Ontario

By Anya Wassenberg on June 20, 2024

The Beaches International Jazz Festival; a concert in Kew Gardens in 2005 (Photo: Captmondo/cropped/GNU FDL)
The Beaches International Jazz Festival; a concert in Kew Gardens in 2005 (Photo: Captmondo/cropped/GNU FDL)

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario today announced funding for 12 festivals and events that take place across the region. The Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism, was on hand to make the announcement in Toronto.

“The local tourism economy in Toronto and across southern Ontario is fueled by community events large and small. Investing in the growth of festivals, events and tourism operators directly supports the growth of regional economies while fostering community spirit. Our government will continue to invest in initiatives that ensure positive growth for our tourism sector across southern Ontario,” comments Minister of Tourism Soraya Martinez Ferrada in a statement.

The Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival, among Canada’s largest free jazz festivals with about 1 million audience members each year, and Ontario Culture Days, were among the biggest beneficiaries of the program.

The funding recognizes that festivals and other events draw a significant number of participants and audience members from outside the area, and contribute to local economies. The funds come from the Tourism Growth Program.

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (or FedDev Ontario) typically works with businesses and other organizations to encourage economic growth. This seems to be one of the few times the agency has worked directly with the music/entertainment industry, judging by the projects listed on its webpage. Other recent investments, for example, include the tourism industry in Niagara Region, and the life sciences sector throughout Southern Ontario. The agency also offers an ongoing program that businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs can apply to.

FedDev Ontario’s statement also acknowledges the role that festivals play in bringing people together, and helping to make communities stronger and more vibrant.


The recently announced round of funding went towards a variety of projects.

Ontario Culture Days will receive $200,000 for a project that will test using a system of hub cities across Southern Ontario a framework for staging events. Each location will serve as an anchor for future growth of the festival, and will offer audiences specialized programming and enhanced amenities.

“Every fall, the Ontario Culture Days festival unites audiences with over 1,000 arts, culture, and heritage events across the province. With this funding, we will develop solutions to facilitate visitors’ engagement with the fall festival, enhancing their experiences and connecting them with Ontario’s diverse communities,” comments Ruth Burns, Executive Director, Ontario Culture Days.

The Beaches International Jazz Festival Society received $112,000 to expand their reach. The Festival Society is using the funds to expand its Beaches Jazz Concert Series to cities outside Toronto, and across Southern Ontario, from February through December 2024. The expanded series will feature Canadian artists, and is designed to grow awareness of the main festival.

“The Beaches International Jazz Festival Society is honoured to have received support to help launch our new Concert Series. This new program will see the creation of 28 live musical performances that will take place across southern Ontario in 11 municipalities,” said Lido Chilelli, Executive Producer, Beaches International Jazz Festival Society

  • Based in Barrie, Talk is Free Theatre used $75,000 in funding to create three productions during the off-and-shoulder seasons between the fall 2023 and spring 2024.
  • The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation received $56,000 to produce the “Gawill Wiikaa Ga-Nendimisii / Never Ever Forget Me” Residential Survivors Gala in March 2024, showcasing Indigenous culture.
  • In Kitchener-Waterloo, Neruda Arts hosted the second annual SHE-Creates festival in March 2024, showcasing women artists, and spotlighting racialized women and newcomers to Canada. In addition, Neruda used the $30,000 in funding to add to its programming and marketing efforts, in order to attract visitors to a rural area of KW.
  • Local Franco-Ontarian and Indigenous artists were celebrated in enhanced free offerings at the 39th Annual Maple Syrup Festival in March 2024. Muséoparc Vanier received $50,000 for the project.

The full list of recipients can be viewed here.

The Tourism Growth Program

The Tourism Growth Program (TGP) will invest a total of $108 million over a three year period. More than $30 million is slated for the province of Ontario. The funds go directly to the businesses and organizations selected.

There will be support offered for additional projects, with the details to be announced over the next few months.

  • The next application intake for TGP funding will be open in the Fall of 2024; check the FedDev Ontario website [HERE] for details.

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