Artists to benefit from corporate grants

By David Kolbusz
Arts organizations in the downtown area are concerned about how some new grant money will be divided.
Truscan Property Corporation, owners of the World Exchange Plaza, announced at the end of January that they would donate $300,000 to the arts community in order to help enliven the downtown core.

Jane Gardner, general manager of the Great Canadian Theatre Company, says that while new funding is always welcome, she must first wait to see how the city will handle the money.

“It’s hard to react when there are so many questions left unanswered,” says Gardner. “We won’t really know anything about who will benefit at least for another few months.”

The parameters for the grant money have already been set and those eligible include professional arts groups located in the city centre.

The money is a flat sum that will be available each year indefinitely due to clever investment by the Community Foundation of Ottawa-Carleton. The idea is to spend the interest earned on the investment.

The first earnings will be available for performances beginning in 1999. The decisions as to which groups will benefit from the donation will be made by the City of Ottawa.

Barbara McInnes, president of the foundation, says application guidelines will be established in a matter of months.

“Any professional performance group is eligible,” says McInnes. “But the city’s cultural leadership committee will decide who receives the funding.”

McInnes hopes this donation will inspire other major corporations to follow suit with other ongoing contributions. Computer giant Corel has also recently launched an endowment fund for the arts in Ottawa.
Gerald Morris, communications manager for Opera Lyra, is optimistic about the Truscan fund.

“I’m delighted,” says Morris. “In this era of cutbacks, any money donated by the private sector is welcome. I just hope more companies follow the Truscan Corporation’s lead.”

David Gerofsky of Truscan says the company wanted to increase arts activity in the downtown area and to further emphasize that Truscan is a prominent force in Ottawa.

“We have no particular groups in mind,” he says. “It could be any type of performance: dance, music, plays or whatever.”

Gerofsky says the funded groups will be chosen by a jury of their peers and the city’s cultural leadership committee in the coming months.