Calgary Arts Development has not dispersed additional funds to arts groups despite its budget increasing by $5 million in November.
CAD president and CEO Patti Pon said she is happy with the increase, but the organization is doing its due diligence before granting additional funds. She added that dispersing the additional money to arts organizations is not merely about giving previous recipients an increased grant.
“It took us two years of working with our community, working with city council and administration to make a case as to why the arts are so impactful for Calgarians and for the benefit of Calgarians,” said Pon. “But it was one thing to spend two years trying to get the money, it’s quite something else to try to spend it in a way that is responsible and accountable and transparent, and really is about encouraging a sustainable and resilient sector for the benefit of Calgarians.”
In the wake of the Alberta Foundation of the Arts (AFA) decision in June to split up its funding into quarterly chunks instead of one large annual grant, some arts organizations are facing a financial crunch. Wednesday, Lunchbox Theatre announced it was seeking $45,000 in donations from the community to help alleviate a “cash flow crisis” caused by the AFA’s decision.
AFA said in an emailed statement from board chair Liam Oddie that it changed its process because of the delay in the provincial government’s budget, which is not expected until the fall.
“Organizations were encouraged to contact us should this result in serious concern over their continued operation or cash flow,” Oddie said in the written statement. “The AFA Board is reviewing requests on a case-by-case basis. We recently received such a request from Lunchbox Theatre and will be responding as soon as possible.”
While the additional grants available from the budget increase to CAD have yet to be dispersed, the organization sent out $3.8 million in grants in the spring. The amount was equal to what organizations had received the previous year under the operating grant program. CAD expects the assessment process for an additional $2.2 million in grants for that program to be completed “soon,” said Pon.
CAD split the operating grant assessment process into two parts because of the budget increase, Pon said.
“We have the great honour and gift to make this investment on the behalf of Calgarians,” said Pon. “We’re very conscious that we’re a public organization stewarding public dollars for the benefit of Calgarians. That does not go by us. We want to ensure that there’s a level of confidence that Calgarians have that we’re investing these dollars in a responsible way.”