Hon. Lisa MacLeod, MPP
Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport
6th Flr, 438 University Ave,
Toronto, ON M7A 2A5
September 26, 2019
RE: IMPACT19 Festival/Celebrate Ontario Funding
Dear Minister MacLeod,
As you know, a vibrant arts scene builds and enhances community. In Waterloo Region, IMPACT19 and MT Space Theatre Company often provide the space to facilitate community building and community conversations; their many contributions are integral to Waterloo Region.
Following the deep funding cut from your Ministry, there was a hopeful period of time when it seemed that IMPACT19 would quality for the second round of Celebrate Ontario funding. We both made calls to your Ministry and requested to speak with you directly, but unfortunately, never heard back. We were both incredibly disappointed when IMPACT19 was not selected as a recipient in the second round of Celebrate Ontario funding. As such, we are writing to you today to share the impact of that decision, and to follow-up on concerns that we have yet to receive clarification on.
Firstly, your Ministry has not responded to our inquiry regarding the process by which organizations and events are now being selected for Celebrate Ontario funding. There continues to be concern and confusion about the lack of transparency, and we are requesting information on this matter as soon as possible. If there are any benchmarks or metrics you could share with the arts and culture community in Waterloo Region that would be greatly appreciated.
IMPACT International Theatre Festival opened on Tuesday, September 24th in downtown Kitchener. The festival has been running since 2009, and this year it involves 50 powerful performances over six days, right in the heart of Kitchener. On the opening night of the festival, Majdi Bou-Matar, Founder and Artistic Director, publicly resigned. Your government dramatically cut IMPACT19’s funding after the festival had already announced the line-up. The loss of $60,000 in grants created chaos for the festival organizers who were already facing challenges such as a lack of venues in Waterloo Region. A number of performances had to be cancelled as a result, including the sold out show on opening night.
Festival organizers have said that the loss of provincial funding made them question whether their work and community contributions are a priority. Minister, we want you to know that this theatre which centres the voices and experiences of racialized and marginalized groups is absolutely a priority for us.
We hope to work with you to address the provincial funding cuts and ensure that IMPACT continues to host sold-out performances by local, national and international theatres companies for decades to come. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our offices to discuss this matter further.
Laura Mae Lindo, MPP
Catherine Fife, MPP