To publicly state the specific reasons why the Rhubarb Festival no longer meets the funding criteria for the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program.
This petition had 1,943 supporters
After many years of support from the Department of Canadian Heritage for the Rhubarb Festival, we received a letter from the department stating: “The Government of Canada’s ongoing objectives are to fund projects designed to deliver measureable and tangible results, to optimize available funds, and to meet the needs of Canadians. It is within this context that, on behalf of the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, I regret to inform you that your application has not been approved.”
When we contacted the department to get some more information about why we suddenly did not fit their funding criteria, we were told in very generalized terms that we no longer meet the objectives of the Canadian Heritage program Building Communities through Arts and Heritage. The stated objective of this program is: “to engage citizens in their local communities through performing and visual arts, as well as through the expression, celebration, and preservation of local historical heritage.”
This is not the first time that Canadian Heritage has withheld support from us. It happened once before. However, when this occurred, we received specific indications from the department on where our application fell short. What is troubling this time is that we have not been given any clear indication as to why we no longer meet their criteria. This has left us surprised and confused. Why do we no longer meet the program’s objective? We did not propose any significant shifts to the festival in our application. There has been no announced change in policy or priorities.
Unfortunately, there is no appeal process. We have been encouraged to reapply in the future and we will. We hope that we will have the opportunity to work with Canadian Heritage again. In order for us to move forward with future applications, it is imperative that we receive clear feedback from the department on the specific areas of the application that are no longer meeting Heritage’s objectives.
We believe that it is reasonable for citizens to expect a level of transparency from the Department of Canadian Heritage. As a queer organization that promotes freedom of expression for communities and perspectives that are often silenced, we become very concerned when shifts in government policy affecting the arts in Canada occur without explanation. We ask that the Department of Canadian Heritage state specific reasons why the Rhubarb Festival no longer qualifies for funding.
ABOUT THE RHUBARB FESTIVAL: The Rhubarb Festival is Canada’s longest-running festival of new works in theatre and performance. Over the past 35 years, Rhubarb has been the seeding ground for hundreds of new works and has been home for thousands of Canadian artists including Atom Egoyan, Sook-Yin Lee, Daniel Brooks, Jennifer Tarver, Hannah Moscovitch, Darren O’Donnell, Ame Henderson, to name but a few. Last year alone, over 35,000 Torontonians experienced Rhubarb performances.
ABOUT BUDDIES IN BAD TIMES THEATRE: Founded in 1979, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is Toronto’s leading destination for artistically-rigorous, alternative theatre and the largest and longest-running professional queer theatre in the world.
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