New money for arts and community groups leads to feeding frenzy for councillors

Opinion May 27, 2015 Stoney Creek News

It should come as no surprise to taxpayers that when you put a large amount of money in front of politicians, a feeding frenzy is sure to occur.

That’s exactly what happened at the grants sub-committee meeting where a number of politicians saw a big pile of green chum and the proverbial waters started to churn.

Not that it wasn’t expected. With the revamped city grant model being introduced this year, city staff carefully used the refined model to methodically dole out the proper amount of money to each and every deserving arts group and community organization (which put on all those summer festivals, Santa Claus parades and host sporting events).

This year, council approved boosting the arts and community groups grants funding by $750,000, with the objective that some funding oversights from the past could be solved while helping struggling local groups with a few dollars to put on their fun fair or movie night.

There was also about $440,000 left over from last year’s grants, plus nearly another $100,000 that had been set aside by staff to help with any mistakes and to cushion financial setbacks if any politician requested extra funding during the year.

However, as some councillors surprisingly discovered, a sizable portion of the funding, for which arts groups had been lobbying for years, went directly to the more established organizations, such as the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Theatre Aquarius, Supercrawl and Boris Brott Music Festival. Other community groups received minimal, if any additional dollars.

After about four hours of what was a money buffet for councillors — despite some recriminations among politicians and city staff — about $76,000 in extra funding had been distributed to a variety of local groups to rectify the perceived funding problem for the council members’ own community organizations.

More significantly, the new grant funding model would seem to have some fissures in providing needed money to struggling local community groups. While it’s nice that Theatre Aquarius gets a big boost in its annual funding from the city, it’s those local, grassroots groups that fundraise constantly to keep their events solvent and that improve their neighbourhood’s livability who should be benefiting from the expansion of the grants funding process.

In the end, just like watching how sausage is being made, it’s never pleasant to see how politicians allocate a pot of taxpayers’ money.

The city may have created a better mousetrap in funding groups, but politicians managed to catch their tails in it.

New money for arts and community groups leads to feeding frenzy for councillors

Opinion May 27, 2015 Stoney Creek News

It should come as no surprise to taxpayers that when you put a large amount of money in front of politicians, a feeding frenzy is sure to occur.

That’s exactly what happened at the grants sub-committee meeting where a number of politicians saw a big pile of green chum and the proverbial waters started to churn.

Not that it wasn’t expected. With the revamped city grant model being introduced this year, city staff carefully used the refined model to methodically dole out the proper amount of money to each and every deserving arts group and community organization (which put on all those summer festivals, Santa Claus parades and host sporting events).

This year, council approved boosting the arts and community groups grants funding by $750,000, with the objective that some funding oversights from the past could be solved while helping struggling local groups with a few dollars to put on their fun fair or movie night.

There was also about $440,000 left over from last year’s grants, plus nearly another $100,000 that had been set aside by staff to help with any mistakes and to cushion financial setbacks if any politician requested extra funding during the year.

However, as some councillors surprisingly discovered, a sizable portion of the funding, for which arts groups had been lobbying for years, went directly to the more established organizations, such as the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Theatre Aquarius, Supercrawl and Boris Brott Music Festival. Other community groups received minimal, if any additional dollars.

After about four hours of what was a money buffet for councillors — despite some recriminations among politicians and city staff — about $76,000 in extra funding had been distributed to a variety of local groups to rectify the perceived funding problem for the council members’ own community organizations.

More significantly, the new grant funding model would seem to have some fissures in providing needed money to struggling local community groups. While it’s nice that Theatre Aquarius gets a big boost in its annual funding from the city, it’s those local, grassroots groups that fundraise constantly to keep their events solvent and that improve their neighbourhood’s livability who should be benefiting from the expansion of the grants funding process.

In the end, just like watching how sausage is being made, it’s never pleasant to see how politicians allocate a pot of taxpayers’ money.

The city may have created a better mousetrap in funding groups, but politicians managed to catch their tails in it.

New money for arts and community groups leads to feeding frenzy for councillors

Opinion May 27, 2015 Stoney Creek News

It should come as no surprise to taxpayers that when you put a large amount of money in front of politicians, a feeding frenzy is sure to occur.

That’s exactly what happened at the grants sub-committee meeting where a number of politicians saw a big pile of green chum and the proverbial waters started to churn.

Not that it wasn’t expected. With the revamped city grant model being introduced this year, city staff carefully used the refined model to methodically dole out the proper amount of money to each and every deserving arts group and community organization (which put on all those summer festivals, Santa Claus parades and host sporting events).

This year, council approved boosting the arts and community groups grants funding by $750,000, with the objective that some funding oversights from the past could be solved while helping struggling local groups with a few dollars to put on their fun fair or movie night.

There was also about $440,000 left over from last year’s grants, plus nearly another $100,000 that had been set aside by staff to help with any mistakes and to cushion financial setbacks if any politician requested extra funding during the year.

However, as some councillors surprisingly discovered, a sizable portion of the funding, for which arts groups had been lobbying for years, went directly to the more established organizations, such as the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Theatre Aquarius, Supercrawl and Boris Brott Music Festival. Other community groups received minimal, if any additional dollars.

After about four hours of what was a money buffet for councillors — despite some recriminations among politicians and city staff — about $76,000 in extra funding had been distributed to a variety of local groups to rectify the perceived funding problem for the council members’ own community organizations.

More significantly, the new grant funding model would seem to have some fissures in providing needed money to struggling local community groups. While it’s nice that Theatre Aquarius gets a big boost in its annual funding from the city, it’s those local, grassroots groups that fundraise constantly to keep their events solvent and that improve their neighbourhood’s livability who should be benefiting from the expansion of the grants funding process.

In the end, just like watching how sausage is being made, it’s never pleasant to see how politicians allocate a pot of taxpayers’ money.

The city may have created a better mousetrap in funding groups, but politicians managed to catch their tails in it.