Friday, February 3, 2017

A Big cheque for a Big Announcement; City of Prince Rupert and Lester Centre sign three year funding agreement

Mayor Lee Brain and Councillors Niesh, Mirau and Cunningham hand over 
a replica cheque for $125,000 to Lester Centre Manager Crystal Lorette, it marks 
the first instalment on three years of funding for the Lester Centre of the Arts.  
(photo from Mayor Lee Brain's Civic Facebook page)

The Lester Centre celebrates it's 30th Anniversary this weekend and Mayor Lee Brain and the rest of City Council are bringing a long promised gift, confirmed funding for a three year period as the City introduces its new initiative that removes the need for the major grant applicants to go through the annual application process for Community Grant Funding.

The Mayor made first note of Council's approval for funding through his Facebook page, noting that the new agreement will deliver longer term stability and financial certainty for both the City and the Lester Centre.

"Council and staff are happy to announce that we have recently negotiated a three year funding agreement with the Lester Centre of the Arts, which will create greater long term stability and financial certainty for both parties. The City of Prince Rupert is proud to support arts and culture in Prince Rupert, which the Lester Centre has provided for 30 years."

The new process will see the Lester Centre receive 125,000 dollars per year over the course of the next three years, no other details as to what benefits that the change to the long standing process of the past will deliver were outlined as part of the Mayor's social media message.

The theme has not been discussed in public since Council returned to work at the start of January, so there is no indication if all Council members were in favour of the shift to the three year program.

The plan to provide for longer terms for major applicants was discussed during the course of a number of the 2016 Council sessions, some of the background from those Council sessions that led to the new approach can be reviewed below:

December 2016 -- City makes progress on proposed Funding agreements with community grants
October 2016 -- Councillor Cunningham raises questions on City's Community Enhancement Grant issues
September 2016 -- Councillor Thorkelson calls for a more equitable process when it comes to Community Grants and Property Tax Enhancement Grants
June  2016 -- Final numbers for 2015 show $1.3 million in Community Grants distributed by the City
March 2016 -- Full Library funding restored for year ahead
January 2016 -- Legacy Corporation funding making for some fractures at City Council
January 2016 -- Council to reduce funding for Library and redistribute some of the funds to the Museum and Lester Centre

While the Lester Centre funding may be off Council's check list, still outstanding from their plans for negotiation from 2016 are the Prince Rupert Library and Museum of Northern British Columbia.

The City has not provided any updates to this point on how those discussions have fared and if the success found with the Lester Centre success been duplicated.

The smaller grant recipients were to remain on an assessment schedule on a yearly basis, though the progress of that process has not yet offered up an update on the level of funding for those applicants for the year ahead.

As for the Lester Centre, the 30th year bash is set for Saturday from 7 to 10 PM with tickets available at both the Arts Centre Box office and at cooks Jewellers. You can find out more about Saturday night's celebrations from the Lester Centre Facebook page.

More background on items of interest from City Council can be found on our archive page here.

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