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County festivals receive $71,283 in Celebrate Ontario funding

Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson and Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith congratulated Celebrate Ontario funding recepients (front row, from left) Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival board members Kathie Oliver and David Oliver with chair Maureen Dunn; Festival Players managing director and producer Paul Flicker and associate producer Brianna Gorsline. Representatives from Comedy Country were unable to attend.

Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith congratulated representatives from three Prince Edward County performing arts festival on receiving $71,283 in Celebrate Ontario funding.

The Festival Players of Prince Edward County will receive $56,750, the Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival will receive $10,000, and Comedy Country 2019 will receive $4,533 as part of a province-wide $13-million fund to support events that drive tourism.

“Celebrate Ontario funding allows these creative people to focus on what they do best – producing high quality performances within our communities,” said Smith. “Their effort to bring top musical, theatrical, and comedic talent to Prince Edward County also brings tourism, jobs, and needed revenue. Past Celebrate Ontario recipients have told us that for every dollar of provincial investment, visitors spend more than $20.”

Representatives of the three festivals were pleased to learn about the government’s support.

Festival Players managing director and producer Paul Flicker said the money will support the company’s 2019 season, which begins July 9 with John Patrick Shanley’s Tony Award-nominated show Outside Mullingar at Wellington’s Studio Theatre.

“We are incredibly proud and grateful that the government and people of Ontario have chosen to support Festival Players,” Flicker said. “Celebrate Ontario funding will contribute to top-notch performances in Prince Edward County. Most importantly, it will help us get the word out that along with our beautiful beaches and vineyards and our world class dining, the County is now a destination for world-class arts.”

The County’s professional theatre company will stage four productions between July and September, while also providing a concert series during the Wellington Water Week festival in August.

The Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival has a mandate to make leading Canadian musicians accessible to a greater audience to perform music written by notable classical, contemporary, and Canadian composers. Chair Maureen Dunn said her festival committee was grateful for the province’s generous support again this year in delivering that programming in September.

“The Celebrate Ontario grant of $10,000 will permit us to continue to attract tourists to the County to attend the last excellent classical music concert of the season,” she said. “With this funding, we are able to provide a free outdoor concert, Saturday, Sept. 7 at Macaulay Park and six fantastic chamber music concerts over two weekends in September. The Celebrate Ontario grant supports our vision of growing into one of Canada’s top destinations for excellence in chamber music.”

The Comedy Country summer comedy series, a special project of the renowned Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, aims to bring big laughs to rural areas. Its 2019 season kicked off with Saturday Night Live’s Kevin Nealon entertaining at the Regent Theatre last month. More hilarity is planned with performances through to the end of August. Executive director Paul Snepsts was pleased the province recognized his festival’s work in delivering entertainment locally.

“Celebrate Ontario support for Comedy Country activities helps us deliver on our mission to present the very best comedy talent from across Canada and beyond in the distinctly rural context of Prince Edward County,” Snepsts said. “Funding from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport invests in a growing comedy culture in Eastern Ontario – cultivating new comedy markets and audiences, driving new tourism visitation and adding richness, variety, and quality to the tourism offering in our region.”

Smith encouraged Bay of Quinte residents to experience the high-quality productions.

“I implore you to learn more about their upcoming seasons and to buy tickets to enjoy these enriching, entertaining shows close to home. They’re truly something to celebrate,” he said.

Applications for the funding were scored by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport using a set criteria that measured events’ ability to attract visitors, community economic development, and business partnerships and organizations’ demonstrated viability to deliver proposed events.

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