Reconnect With Local Travel: Funding for Ontario’s Festivals and Events


Local culture and community involvement in the form of events help people feel a sense of belonging, they create job opportunities, and they help battle mental health conditions such as seasonal depression. Earlier this month, the Government of Ontario announced a new program that will fund and support the creation of in-person and/or virtual events in order to help communities reconnect as our province continues to persevere through COVID-19. When otherwise locked indoors due to social distancing guidelines this upcoming winter, this newly established fund will help establish safe and meaningful events for Canadians to take part in.

“COVID-19 has had an unprecedented and devastating impact on our local festivals and events. This important investment through the new Reconnect Festival and Event Program will continue to support Ontarians as they reconnect and experience all their local communities have to offer.”
– Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture

To take part in a festival or an event means to be a part of a community, and in times where we’re told to distance ourselves from others, safe and local events can help people feel less isolated and promote health and wellness, while also accelerating economic growth.

What is the Reconnect Festival and Event Program?

Through the Reconnect Festival and Event Program, Ontario is investing $9 million to support municipalities and event organizers in creating local opportunities that will encourage Ontarians to attend community-based events under safe guidelines. The goal of this funding is to increase economic growth in local regions and generate an increase in job opportunities while also helping communities socialize whilst social distancing.

Eligible applicants can receive up to a maximum of 50% of total event operating expenses for events with a cash operating budget of at least $50,000.

Since tourism is a key economic sector in Ontario, supporting more than 400,000 jobs and generating over $36 billion in annual revenue, community events must carry on for the benefit of culture, community, and economic stability. A few examples of unique events that will generate from this funding include virtual Remembrance Day activities, digital holiday parades, drive-in movies and music concerts, holiday tree lightings, New Year’s Eve displays, and much more.

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants, Projects, Timelines

Reconnect Festival and Event Program Objectives

This funding program aims to support innovative events in Ontario that will:

  • Deliver experiences that encourage people to travel locally and rediscover the beauty and diversity of their community.
  • Attract attendees and provide positive economic impact for the local community, the region, and the province.
  • Create job opportunities for Ontarians, particularly in the tourism, culture, and entertainment sectors.
  • Increase Ontario’s profile through media and/or broadcast exposure to instill interest in future travel to the province once it is safe to do so again.

Eligible Applicants

  • Must be an Ontario-based organization with legal status for one year or longer, as of the date of submitting the application.
  • Must not be in default of the terms and conditions of any grant or loan agreement with any ministry or agency of the Government of Ontario.

Eligible Events

The event must meet all of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Take place between August 12, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
  • If an in-person event, must occur in the province of Ontario.
  • The total cash operating budget of the proposed initiative/event must be at least $50,000.
  • Be open to the public at large without membership in a club or group.
  • Follow all municipal and provincial guidelines, including health and safety guidelines.

Ineligible Events

  • Amateur sporting events that are receiving funding through the Ontario Sport Hosting Program.
  • Events that seek to attract only a special interest audience or recruit new members (e.g. religious or political gatherings and workshops).
  • Trade fairs, events of a primarily commercial nature (e.g. consumer shows, symposia, conventions, meetings and conferences, seminars and clinics).

Eligible Expenses

  • Programming and production (performance and appearance fees paid to artists, musicians, and entertainers, programming costs including interactive and/or accessible programming, production costs including audio and visual support).
  • Media buys (targeted paid advertising, out-of-home advertising, geo-targeted digital and social media advertising buys, distribution costs for printed materials).
  • Other (wages for temporary staff, event security, COVID-19 screening and safety measures, fees paid to consultants to assist with pivoting to alternate service delivery models, etc.).

Timeline & Deadline to Apply

  • Events must take place between August 12, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
  • All expenses must be incurred by March 31, 2021.

The application deadline to apply for the Reconnect Festival and Event Program is Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

Supporting Community Events During COVID-19

If you have an event that might fit the requirements of Ontario’s Reconnect Festival and Event Program, please connect with the Mentor Works team and we can help you to explore this grant opportunity in further detail.

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