ST. PETER’S: A summer music event that has taken place in Richmond County since 2012 will not happen this year.
Kitchen Rackets, the volunteer group that hosts the St. Peter’s Music Camp on the Canal, has announced it will not be hosting the camp this summer. Kitchen Rackets founder Greg Silver says the decision is due in part to the fact that they have been unable to confirm a core funding contribution from the Municipality of the County of Richmond.
“In a way, it may demonstrate to the municipality that they need to wake up and smell the coffee,” Silver said.
Silver says he first came up the proposal to host the camp as a response to a regional tourism strategy that was taking hold at the time.
“The municipality was interested in this because they wanted to see if they could prove that tourism could be part of economic development,” said Silver.
Each year, the municipality has contributed $5,000 in core funding for the camp. In 2017, Silver says changes in the municipal office led to issues with funding.
“We had been promised the money after a successful 2016 music camp, then there was a shuffle in staff and they did not honour the promise,” said Silver.
Silver said the group did not receive the funding until October 2017, nearly four months after the event took place. This year, Silver says he has not received any answer from the municipality on funding despite numerous requests.
“And still today, we’re almost at the end of January and they still can’t tell us,” said Silver.
The group is taking the year to form their own not-for-profit society and seek new sources of funding. Silver says they plan to build on the support the camp has received from businesses and not-for-profits who have helped to sponsor the camp’s bursary program for local youth. Silver says he hopes to seek additional corporate sponsorships, as well as strengthen the camp’s on-line marketing campaign.
“We don’t want to give up on the municipality, we just think they’re in a problem time right now,” said Silver.
Kent MacIntyre, who became Richmond County’s CAO earlier this month, told The Reporter he did not know why the camp has not received an answer on funding, but said that council is currently working on developing a new grant structure for the future.
“Richmond County hands out a significant amount of grants each year, and we do know that we won’t be able to maintain that pace,” MacIntyre said.
“We’ve been consulting with other municipalities on their grant structures and we’ll coalesce all of those other policies plus some of the initiatives that we have on our own, and put together a very defined grant structure that should be very advantageous for taxpayers in Richmond County.”
MacIntyre said he realizes the transition may be difficult for organizations that are planning summer events for 2018. However, he said he is pleased that Kitchen Rackets is organizing as a not-for-profit society, adding that consideration may be given to non-profit organizations under the new procedures.
“They’re certainly planning for the future and by the time our new grant structure comes out in the first quarter of the new fiscal year, then the timing could be good for them,” said MacIntyre.
Macintyre also said that under the new system, organizations will receive their funding in a timely manner.
“We will be expediting all the applications and the grants, and payments will be very much in line with what the events are requiring,” he added