Local dignitaries and community leaders were on hand at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, as Kingston and the Islands Member of Parliament (MP) Mark Gerretsen announced $250,000 in funding for area businesses and organizations, through the government’s Tourism Relief Fund. The funding, administered by Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, is meant to support tourism in southern Ontario, as the industry continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Monday’s event, Gerretsen announced five Kingston-area organizations have been approved to receive funding through the federal program. Successful applicants include Kingston Writers Fest, the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA), the City of Kingston, Wolfe Island’s Blue Moose B&B, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. “All of [these] organizations contribute to making Kingston a popular regional and national destination, and showcase not only the very best of Kingston, but also Canada as a whole,” Gerretsen said.
Monday’s announcement was made at the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre on the campus of Queen’s University, which is set to receive $100,000 through the fund to support a brand-new interactive installation titled The Assemblies. The project marks the first Canadian performance by renowned international artist Zina Saro-Wiwa, who will partner with local artists and businesses as part of the installation. “The event is a living, evolving performance piece created by Saro-Wiwa in collaboration with local audience participants, to share and express her findings on African sociality, botanicals, spirituality, and science,” noted a press release.
“The Assemblies include a performance lecture, film screening, silent tastings, sound baths, storytelling, academic talks, and food.” The performance is set to take place at the Hotel Wolfe Island on March 31. More information can be found on the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre website.
Interactive displays seemed to be a popular theme at Monday’s announcement, with the Downtown Kingston BIA set to receive $90,000 to fund a new winter light exhibit inspired by the northern lights. According to the press release, the lighting display will be surrounded by “life-sized art installations created by Indigenous artists representing traditional characters and cultural stories and pre-recorded Indigenous storytelling.” The content will be made accessible to the public through QR codes set up at each installation.
The City of Kingston, meanwhile, will receive just under $50,000 to build an extension onto the skating rink at Victoria Park, in an effort to improve visitor experiences, with the rink serving as “an anchor product to motivate travel to the region.”
Kingston Writers Fest, an annual literary festival held every September, has been awarded $4,000 to support a new magazine fair and “interactive zine-making station” at the Tett Centre. Lastly, the Tourism Relief Fund will provide the Blue Moose B&B on Wolfe Island with $7,586 to create a new “winter tourism experience,” including a new skating rink, a star gazing dome, and winter sports equipment rentals.
“We know that the past couple years have been very difficult, and in particular, on small businesses and organizations across southern Ontario that contribute to Canada’s tourism sector…The government of Canada created the Tourism Relief Fund to help tourism businesses and their communities across Canada, recover from the effects of COVID-19,” said Gerretsen.
In total, the government of Canada has committed over $500 million in tourism relief, to help businesses and organizations recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and prepare for future growth, according to the federal government. Of the $500 million being spent across Canada, the government has committed to nearly $120 million on projects in southern Ontario.