Arts council in Powell River leverages funding

City contribution helps access money from other funders

City of Powell River councillors heard how the city’s financial contributions to the arts have leveraged money from other agencies.

At the September 15 committee of the whole meeting, Karen Kamon, president of the Powell River Council of Arts and Culture, provided an update on what is happening at the arts centre. She said during the pandemic, there has been some new signage placed in the atrium. She added that there has been a spot created where groups of up to 10 can meet.

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“This is great for the community because a lot of the meeting places are closed,” said Kamon. “It’s been really nice to support the community that way.”

She said a show that was supposed to open on September 18 is now going to be postponed until 2021 due to current circumstances.

The next show coming into the art centre is called Memento Mori. Kamon said this is an exhibition that council has worked on in partnership with the hospice society. She said it has been held in the cemetery for the past few years. This year, the event will be hosted at the art centre, so there will be a community exhibition happening, outlining grief and transformation, according to Kamon.

“It’s great this festival has been happening in our community and we’re really happy to host this event,” said Kamon. According to the art centre’s Facebook page, the event will be at the gallery on November 1 between noon and 5 pm.

Kamon then said she wanted to discuss monetary matters. She said money the city provided to the council last year was used to leverage additional money from other sources. Of the $19,000 the city provided, $10,000 is kept in reserve for community grants and $9,000 has been used for operational funding.

“By using that $9,000, we have received $24,000 in BC Arts Council grants, as well as we just received an operational funding grant from the gaming commission for $10,000,” said Kamon.

She said the arts council had planned to reapply for funds from BC Arts Council in 2020, but COVID-19 has interrupted the process. She said the arts council will be applying again to the BC Arts Council in 2021.

“Thank you for supporting arts and culture; it’s been really helpful in the arts centre,” said Kamon. “Having this revenue is generating business. The efforts you are supporting in this community is creating jobs.”

Councillor Cindy Elliott said she had a conversation with Kamon indicating the arts council could gain credits and increase leverage on funding if the city was to channel money through the organization intended for projects such as the Townsite heritage app that council is supporting.

“It wouldn’t take anything out of the funding going to the project, but if it were to go through you, you would get credit on your books and then you could leverage the gaming commission,” said Elliott. “Could you explain that point?”

Kamon said the arts council has reached out to Townsite Heritage Society, which will be applying for grants. She said when the city decides to fund the innovative art fund, if that money goes as a flow-through to the arts council, that increases the arts council’s budget and puts them in a different financial band with provincial and federal arts funding agencies.

“It’s a way we can start to leverage and access more funding,” said Kamon.

Elliott said she thought that was a good thing to share because without costing the city a dime, help can be provided to get more funding for the arts.

Mayor Dave Formosa said he’d like to encourage the chief financial officer and the chair of the finance committee to look at what could be done to direct funds in a way that would be beneficial.

Elliott said that as the city has appropriate projects, if the city can use it as a value-added opportunity, the city ought to be doing that.

“The mayor’s suggestion for us to meet up and see if we can’t come up with a way to support that within city hall is a good one,” said Elliott. “I’m in favour of that.”

Councillor Jim Palm, chair of the committee of the whole, said the city likes to use its money to bring in more money.

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