Under ordinary circumstances, the entire city would be a buzz about the impending start of the Hillside Festival out at Guelph Lake. Hillside is a major summer music event, and a major local cultural event, but you can’t have either of those things in a global pandemic. But what you can have is a virtual Hillside, and you will have it again this year, except this time it comes with a little bit more Federal funding.
In an announcement on Thursday afternoon, Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield announced that several Guelph arts festivals are getting $164,700 in support from the Canadian Arts Presentation Funds and the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Fund. These funds have made $8 million available for arts events across Canada over the last three years, and are meant to increase opportunities for local artists and performers.
“Thank you to everyone working so hard in the arts and cultural sector for continuing to look for creative, engaging and innovative ways to deliver programs to Guelph, and now the much broader community,” Longfield said in a statement. “I am delighted to announce this funding to support their critical work of providing artists avenue to perform, instruct, and give audiences a reason to celebrate during these very difficult times.”
About half of the Federal funding, $80,000 is going to the virtual Hillside event on July 23 called Hillside Homeside, which aims to transfer the musical, spoken work, and workshop programming of the Hillside experience to the virtual setting. Earlier this week, Hillside released a list of confirmed performers for this year’s virtual Hillside including The Sadies, Nathan Lawr, Dan Mangan, and Steven Page, and it will also feature interviews with Basia Bulat, Royal Canoe, and Hey Rosetta!
“It is our duty to serve our mission in our community by delivering great art and instruction, but without ticket sales, we have been unable to program and plan to realize our creative ambitions,” said Hillside executive director Marie Zimmerman in a statement.
“Canadian Heritage’s Support for Workers fund allows us to hire the artists whose music, dance, and literature give us the hopeful ideas that will sustain us and help us imagine the world anew. It also allows us to hire the technical production people who facilitate that art, bringing out its full, nuanced audiovisual richness,” Zimmerman added. “This funding is our oxygen. It feeds into and recharges a life support system for artists and technical production crew.”
The Guelph Jazz Festival gets just over $28,000 in funding for an event on July 25 and 26 called Arborienteering, which features 15 musicians playing 10 different solos as attendees move throughout the University of Guelph’s Arboretum. This event was rescheduled from May when Ontario had yet to begin even the first phase of the provincial re-opening. The main Guelph Jazz Festival will proceed from September 16 to 18 with hybrid program of outdoor and indoor concerts.
“The last year has provoked us to conceive of live music events that can be engaged safely while still enriching lives, and our site-specific event-piece in the University of Guelph Arboretum, Arborienteering, is a special example,” said Scott Thomson, artistic director of the Guelph Jazz Festival. “The Support for Workers in the Live Arts and Music Sectors Program has offered generous and timely support to help us execute it, and to employ 20 artists and support workers in the process.”
The Guelph and District Multicultural Festival received $11,300 in funding from the government after working hard the last two years to deliver a virtual festival to the Guelph community.
“We thank the Federal Government for its ongoing efforts to sustain our organization and our Multicultural Festivals over the years. Your valuable support during this challenging period has helped us take new strides by launching several successful and engaging virtual programs including 2 virtual Festivals in 2021,” said the festival’s executive director Cinthuja Leon. “On behalf of the Multicultural Festival, I’d like to express our sincere gratitude for your support, which will ensure our 2022 Guelph Multicultural Festival is a grand success.”
The City of Guelph also got money for a series of “Guelph Gathers” events and other programming at the River Run Centre meant to “cultivate civic pride and celebrate our city and its people.” The City got $45,000 for these initiatives.
“One of the things we have missed most during the pandemic is live performances, and their unique power to inspire and connect us,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie, a former musician himself as drummer for Fitness Club Fiasco. “With this funding, we are glad to be able to encourage people to rediscover their love of the performing arts while safely reconnecting with each other through online and outdoor programming.”