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City changing way it hands out grants – NACC set to lose out

The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) looks set to receive a second successive funding hit as the City of Yellowknife reforms the way it hands out grants.

A grant review committee has spent months reorganizing the way the city’s cash is handed out to organizations in need.

The aim is to assist more projects than before as the number of applications increases.

But the committee’s latest proposal includes a $50,000 cap on annual grants, which would mean another drop in NACC’s funding.

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From 2009 until November last year, NACC received $80,000 a year from the city. In November that was cut to $65,000. Now, the new rules would reduce NACC’s share by another $15,000 – roughly a 35 percent combined cut.

“A 35 percent reduction is a lot for us,” said Jeff Pitre, NACC’s president.

“I understand the city probably has more requests but, if they have more requests, then maybe there should be some funding since it seems so popular. I don’t think [the funding level] has been upgraded for the last 10 years.”

The new proposals for handing out grants suggest creating three categories:

Community service grant: A one-year grant to non-profits “for start-up or enhancement of programs or projects” up to $10,000.

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Multi-year grant: Three-year funding “to established non-profit organizations based in Yellowknife for programs or projects” up to $50,000 per year (for which NACC qualifies).

Sponsorship grant: One-year grants to Yellowknife non-profits “to sponsor or host an event” up to $20,000.

Previously, the city offered “special grant funding” alongside a program of “core funding”. The core funding program started with 10 groups, but had since grown to 21 – sparking calls for a new funding model.

“At the end of the day, we are opening it up to a few more organizations and we are already at a max,” said Councillor Rebecca Alty, who chaired the grant review committee.

“By offering this new funding stream, we are providing more opportunities for other organizations.

“To be able to try to respond to as many community groups as possible, we had to do a decrease in the one grant,” she added, referring to NACC.

In full: Proposed grant funding model (pdf, page 22 onward)

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NACC is one of two organizations set to lose out as grants are restructured. The other is the Yellowknife Seniors’ Society, whose grant will face a slight reduction from $55,000 to $50,000.

Councillor Bob Brooks urged the committee to meet with the two organizations first “to find out what kind of impact a cut like that would have” before making any decision final. He asked for the recommended changes to be set aside until those meetings have taken place.

Councillor Adrian Bell said he understood the purpose of the changes, but felt the committee had “missed a couple of things”.

“I understand it’s more democratic to make the program accessible to a larger number of groups, but I don’t think this takes into account the total amount of programming provided by NACC,” said Bell.

“Unless we build in some way to recognize that in the model, I think we’re missing something. I would be in support of increasing the cap on this, so larger groups can get larger amounts.

“Dollar for dollar, Yellowknifers are getting much more programming from these larger organizations. A hundred smaller projects maybe don’t add up to one larger project.”

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