Skip to content

Art gallery in for boost to city funding

The Thunder Bay Art Gallery is set to receive nearly $100,000 more per year to support a move to a larger, waterfront location.
A rendering shows designs for the exterior of the new gallery just south of existing development at Prince Arthur's Landing. (Thunder Bay Art Gallery)

THUNDER BAY – The city is planning to support the Thunder Bay Art Gallery’s move to a new location with a nearly $100,000 increase to the institution’s annual operating funding.

That would bring the city’s yearly operating grant to the art gallery to $405,300 in 2024, and comes on top of a nearly $40,000 increase the gallery received this year.

City council tentatively approved funding for 18 local non-profit organizations in 2024 through the city’s Community, Youth & Cultural Funding Program on Monday.

The fund, created in 2007, exists to support important cultural and community groups, with large sustaining grants for a handful of institutions considered integral to the city’s identity.

The program has a total recommended budget of $3.1 million in 2024, up by about $200,000 from this year.

The largest recipients of the CYC fund in 2024 are:

  • Thunder Bay Community Auditorium ($836,900)
  • Thunder Bay Museum ($482,100)
  • Thunder Bay Art Gallery ($405,300)
  • Shelter House ($330,800)
  • Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra ($244,700)
  • Regional Food Distribution Association ($200,000)
  • Magnus Theatre ($144,400)
  • Thunder Bay Boys & Girls Club ($123,400)

Coun. Mark Bentz questioned why the lion’s share of the funding goes toward cultural institutions, not youth and anti-poverty programs.

“When I look at it, I see 80 per cent of the funding going to cultural… and my way of thinking is that's a little skewed,” he said. “We're funding two museums, two art galleries, an auditorium, an orchestra that plays exclusively at the auditorium, and a professional theater company for close to $2.3 million; Whereas we're only putting $600,000 or so into the youth programs.”

Coordinator Callie Hemsworth responded that has more to do with the typical funding model for cultural institutions than anything else.

“Community safety and wellbeing organizations are typically funded at a much higher level by the province and to some degree, the federal government, whereas culture across Canada… is typically funded at a much higher percentage by the municipality,” she said.

“In other cities, some of these cultural organizations are actually part of a city department, some of the museums [for example].”

Applications to the program are reviewed by teams made up of city staff and citizen representatives, and can be appealed to a committee made up of city councillors.

The gallery was one of two organizations recommended for a large bump in 2024, along with the Regional Food Distribution Association (RFDA).

The gallery increase was recommended to support the institution’s move to a new $57-million-plus waterfront building that will offer around three times the display space of its current site at Confederation College.

Gallery leaders had previously signaled they’d seek increases to the operating grant. It’s not clear if the gallery plans to seek further increases in 2025, when it’s set to move into the new building.

An increase of $94,500 recommended for the RFDA, meanwhile, recognizes “significant increased operating expenses, demand for services, and decrease in donations,” staff reported.

That would bring annual city funding of the RFDA to a total of $200,000, still well short of the organization’s request for $350,000 for next year.

Funding for the Shelter House is set to rise only slightly to $330,800, falling short of its request for $500,000.

The CYC program also includes $47,600 for smaller project grants to be allocated in 2024, with the first intake in March 2024.

More information about the fund and how to apply is available at the city’s website.

While Monday’s vote indicated approval for the recommended funding awards, the decision to award those dollars won’t be final until council approves the 2024 city budget in February. 

Ian Kaufman

About the Author: Ian Kaufman

Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks