Festival highlights funding, customers - Feb. 15, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
Representatives of the Blyth Festival made some exciting announcements while reviewing its 2017 season with North Huron Council.
During council’s Feb. 5 meeting, Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt explained that 2017 was a good season for bringing in new visitors.
“We had 1,750 patrons purchase tickets who hadn’t purchased them before,” he said. “Assuming everyone brought a date, that means we had 3,500 new people come through.”
Garratt said 66 per cent of patrons to the theatre in 2017 travelled more than 40 kilometres to get there and there were theatre-goers from every province in Canada except Prince Edward Island.
The Festival also received good news for its coming season in that the Canada Council for the Arts had nearly doubled the funds the Blyth Festival was receiving.
“The Blyth Festival received an 87 per cent increase [in funding],” Garratt said.
Funding from the Canada Council for the Arts was increased to $275,000 from $145,000 per year with a three-year commitment.
Garratt also stated that the Festival had raised more than $100,000 through its seat sale as part of the significant renovation to Memorial Hall.
The coming season was outlined and Garratt requested that North Huron contribute $15,000 to the joint marketing initiative that North Huron historically participates in with the Festival. The contribution earns North Huron recognition on Festival promotional material and space in the program and house book.
Council members said they would keep the request in mind during budget deliberations, while Councillor Bill Knott stated he would like to see this issue go to the newly-formed North Huron Economic Development Committee in the future.
“I would like to recommend [the Blyth Festival] approach our economic development committee so you can explain the initiative to all the members of that committee,” he said. “There are new members who aren’t aware of this ongoing program. In the future, that’s where this request should rest so you can explain how this whole thing goes together with the municipality.”
Knott said both he and Councillor Trevor Seip, North Huron Council’s representation on the committee, would be happy to help arrange a meeting. Garratt had no objections to making the presentation for the group.