Council Allocating $518K in 2021 Budget To Help Keyano Theatre & Art Centre

The Keyano Theatre and Art Centre is getting funding from the RMWB to help keep the doors open.

Wood Buffalo council met on Tuesday where they started talks on the 2021 budget by hearing from local organizations requesting funds to help them over the next 12 months.

Keyano College was one of these groups who were looking for $1,135,000 to help cover expenses for the theatre and the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre.

Council ended up approving allocating just under $519,000 for the Keyano Theatre and Art Centre after Dale Mountain, Keyano Interim President and CEO of Keyano, noted the place was at risk of closing.

“Part of the challenges that we see as funding becomes tighter in all levels of government is the first thing to be cut is the arts,” said Councillor Mike Allen.

“I expect when things get stronger and we help them rebuild and help things move to a point where it can be sustainable that they will stand on their own.”

Councillors Verna Murphy, Jeff Peddle, Claris Voyageur, and Sheila Lalonde voted against the funds. Councillor Krista Balsom did not participate due to a pecuniary interest.

Peddle expressed his concerns over covering something he believes the province should be doing, while Murphy wanted to wait and see if any funds would be coming through the provincial budget.

According to Mountain, without the immediate funds, they would have had to consider clawing back on plans to reinstate theatre programming and potentially look at further workforce reductions.

Right now, six full-time employees currently work at the theatre which is up from three earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic but down from 12 in previous years.

Multiple delegates also spoke in favour of funding the theatre.

This included Hanna Fridhed, speaking on behalf of Theatre; Just Because and the Alberta Drama Festival Association, who noted the space is very important for smaller theatre companies.

“Independent theatre productions couldn’t operate on the level we do currently if it wasn’t for Keyano Theatre and Art Centre – they are amazing supporters of the theatre community.”

Meanwhile, Keyano isn’t receiving any additional funds for the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre.

Mountain noted the building, at this time, is not in danger of closing, however, the funds would have helped with costs and loss of revenue from the pandemic and April’s flood.

Funding Requests Approved For Additional Organizations

Several other organizations also presented to council looking for funding for the 2021 calendar year.

They approved the following amounts:

  • Arts Council Wood Buffalo – $653,000
  • Camp Yogi Society – $292,000
  • Family Christian Centre o/a Legacy Counselling Centre – $320,000
  • Fort Chipewyan Historical Society – $148,960
  • Fort McMurray Heritage Society – $499,000
  • Fort McMurray Golf Club – $873,000
  • Fort McMurray Minor Baseball Association (2009) – $130,000
  • Fort McMurray Minor Hockey (1981) Association – $611,000
  • Fort McMurray Oil Sands Curling Club – $64,000
  • Fort McMurray SPCA – $704,000
  • FuseSocial Wood Buffalo Society – $304,361
  • Justin Slade Youth Foundation – $310,000
  • Local HERO Foundation – $1,000,000
  • McMurray Sno-Drifters Snowmobile Association – $99,500
  • Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo – $539,910
  • Northern Alberta Athletic Association – $1,334,500
  • Ptarmigan Nordic Ski Club – $200,000
  • RMWB Library Board – $3,782,480
  • Vista Ridge Recreational Association – $484,000
  • Waypoints Community Services Association – $485,000
  • Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation – $4,200,000
  • YMCA of Northern Alberta – $458,655

Keyano, the Local HERO Foundation, the RMWB Library Board, and the YMCA of Northern Alberta were the only organizations to receive fewer funds year-over-year.

Council is planning to advocate for additional funds to help the HERO foundation.

Funds were also approved for the Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo to allow them to continue operating the recreation centres across the region.

  • Anzac – $1,088,344
  • Conklin – $1,316,565
  • Fort Chipewyan – $341,782
  • MacDonald Island Park – $17,522,746

Budget talks will continue on Wednesday starting at 9 a.m.

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