Area D Director Brenda Leigh accused Campbell River Director Andy Adams of playing favourites at last week’s Strathcona Regional District meeting.
Adams put forward a motion that the board approve the Tidemark Theatre’s request for $10,000 which ran contrary to how the regional district typically approves funding requests from community groups.
“I don’t know where Director Adams thinks the money’s going to come from but if it’s not coming from grant-in-aid that would be most unusual,” Leigh said. “I think this is a very unfair approach because it’s only taking one single applicant and favouring them over 30 others who also need money. It’s not giving discretion to the directors at all.”
Each of the four electoral area directors annually accept applications from community groups for grants-in-aid and successful applications are approved by the board. In previous years the Tidemark has received a grant-in-aid from the electoral program but this year the Tidemark Society asked the regional district for more consistent funding.
Kim Emsley-Leik, managing director of the Tidemark, asked the regional district in January to consider establishing a regional arts and culture function that could annually fund the Tidemark and other art programs.
But during a recent strategic planning session, directors recommended that such a function not be considered a work priority for 2015.
Tom Yates, the regional district’s corporate services manager, said that recommendation was confirmed when the board chose “not to include funding in the current year budget for this initiative.”
That left Cortes Director Noba Anderson wondering what Adams was trying to do.
“This $10,000 would still only afford them one-time (funding) but wouldn’t allow them that future financial planning that Director Adams you’re hoping for,” Anderson said to Adams. “It strikes me that there are a lot of other organizations that are equally deserving. I’m wondering if you could provide some insight to the board as to why you would suggest this organization over others for financial priority?”
Adams responded that he was trying to create a dialogue.
“I’ll be quite candid with this,” Adams said. “I had no hope of this succeeding but it was more to get a discussion on the table. The current model of discretionary grants-in-aid does not support the art and culture societies to have a sustainable funding model.”
But Leigh said she thought it only fair that the Tidemark go through the same process as every other group that comes to the Strathcona Regional District looking for money.
“It’s an issue of fairness, the issue of having one aspect of our society being awarded a lump sum of money over others,” Leigh said. “I think it’s only fair to let everybody go through the grant-in-aid process and I review them (the applications) all in June and they’re brought to the board in July.”
Leigh told Emsley-Leik, who was sitting in the public gallery at the March 11 board meeting, that the Tidemark’s request for funding will be considered through her Area D grant-in-aid budget.
Adams motion to award the Tidemark with $10,000 was subsequently defeated by the board as directors Jim Abram (Quadra Island), Anderson, Leigh, John MacDonald (Sayward), Jude Schooner (Tahsis) and Gerald Whalley (Area A) were all opposed.