SYDNEY RIVER: The cultural and artistic stature of the Celtic Colours International Festival is world renowned.

This premiere musical event has played a significant role in extending Cape Breton Island’s tourism season well into the autumn. Tourism is an important economic generator throughout Atlantic Canada and is a particularly vibrant sector on Cape Breton Island.

The Government of Canada announced last week that it will invest a total of $1.4 million over the next three years to assist the Celtic Colours Festival Society as it grows and expands the reach of this world-class event.

Members of Parliament Rodger Cuzner and Mark Eyking made the announcement on behalf of Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and the Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), as well as Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.

“Cape Breton Island is home to the only living Gaelic culture in North America,” Cuzner said. “Celtic Colours is a harmonious blend of music, dance and community suppers set against the stunning backdrop of Cape Breton’s scenic beauty. The celebration of Celtic heritage, music and culture complements other tourism offerings on the island and encourages visitors to stay longer and explore.”

Of this funding, $1.2 million will come from ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund and $200,000 will come from Canadian Heritage’s Canada Arts Presentation Fund (CAPF) Program.

“We appreciate the ongoing support of ACOA. Its investment in Cape Breton’s culture goes well beyond dollars and cents. It supports the arts, culture and heritage of Cape Breton Island, encouraging growth and development not only in this economic sector, but in the very fabric of our communities,” Mike MacSween, executive director of the Celtic Colours International Festival noted.

“Celtic Colours partners with hundreds of community groups and venues around the island, and this investment by ACOA is an investment in each and every one of those partners as well.”

Additionally, the Province of Nova Scotia, through the Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage, is providing $375,000 over the next three years, plus an additional $45,000 this year for Canada 150 initiatives through the 150 Forward Fund.

Pam Eyking, MLA Victoria-The Lakes, on behalf of Tony Ince, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, announced the provincial funding on March 13, which is a provincial commitment of $375,000 over the next three years, with an additional $45,000 this year for Canada 150 initiatives.

“Celtic Colours, and everything it entails, aligns with Nova Scotia’s Culture Action Plan,” said Eyking. “The festival brings our communities together, celebrates creativity, innovation and cultural diversity, all while driving our economy forward.”

This year, with support through the Forward 150 Fund, the festival will be able to expand its programming to more communities with a focus on celebrating the province’s rooted population, First Nations, and Scottish Gaelic lineage. Celtic Colours will bring in artists from across the country, honour cultural ambassadors, and plant maple trees for every ticket sold for 2017.

“Celtic Colours is the perfect opportunity for Nova Scotians and visitors to experience our province’s vibrant culture and celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation,” said Eyking.

The festival runs October 6-14. Details are available at: http://celtic-colours.com.

Culture contributes $949 million to Nova Scotia’s economy and provides almost 14,000 jobs, representing 2.7 per cent of the provincial gross domestic product and three per cent of all jobs in Nova Scotia.

For nine days in October each year, Cape Breton Island’s rich culture is celebrated with concerts, dances, workshops and community suppers in more than 60 rural communities around the island. The festival’s economic impact continues to grow. Based on expenditures by festival attendees in 2016, it was $13.2 million, as compared to $11.5 million in 2015. Last year, the festival welcomed over 12,750 visitors from 24 countries around the globe, contributing to Cape Breton’s overall tourism increase of 15 per cent. Since its early years, Celtic Colours has been recognized with a variety of regional and national awards of excellence.

In addition to its impact on tourism, Celtic Colours plays a major role in the development of Cape Breton’s music and craft industries. It offers musicians the opportunity to perform, sell CDs, establish links to national and international contacts, and receive international promotion through the live-streaming of their performance on the Celtic Colours Web site.

The society also delivers programs in local schools and offers learning and mentorship opportunities for young people to help develop the next generation of musicians. Support of the local craft sector is evidenced by designer craftspeople who report that their highest sales of the year occur during Celtic Colours.

A large percentage of the Celtic Colours budget is spent in Cape Breton, including salaries and benefits, office expenses, print and design materials, audio and video production, caterers, as well as fees paid to local artists.

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A St. FX graduate and native of Arichat, Jake Boudrot has been the editor of The Reporter since 2001. He currently lives on Isle Madame.