By Katrina Boguski
In a world where few people value secrets, and even fewer seem capable of keeping them, it is good to know that one person can still keep the lid on things even when bursting with excitement to share the news with others. Over the weekend, Laurie Jones, executive director of Rails End Gallery in Haliburton told the Echo that she knew earlier that the gallery would be receiving some funds, but she had to wait until the announcement was made public before she could share it with others.
A press release from MPP Laurie Scott was issued on Oct. 14 stating, “The Ontario government is providing more than $46 million to support 648 non-profit tourism, culture, sport and recreation organizations through the Community Building Fund’s Operating stream, including 10 organizations in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. The funding will be used to help them recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and deliver much-needed programs and services in our community.”
The Rails End Gallery, located at 23 York Street in Haliburton, was one of the local organizations fortunate enough to be receiving $50,000 as part of this announcement.
When asked in an email what the $50,000 would be spent on, Jones replied that most of the money would go toward operating expenses including “… year-round retention of key staff involved in program planning and delivery, administration and major event production such as Haliburton Art and Craft Festival and Haliburton DrumFest.”
In the current labour market, many organizations are loosing key staff due to massive employment changes brought on by the pandemic as well as by the epic exodus from the workforce sparked by the retirement of many baby boomers. Employee retention is becoming an important issue for organizations to consider more than ever before. Jones noted, “Staff support for the board of directors and volunteers is essential to mid and long term sustainability and our organization’s capacity to deliver on our mission throughout the year.”
Jones herself wrote the grant application, which was originally due at the end of April but had its deadline extended to June 1. In commenting on how the grant application process went, Jones said, “I attended online sessions for potential applicants and found them extremely helpful. The vetting process was very thorough.” She added, “The application itself had strict rules on [the] number of words I could use, forcing me to be clear and concise. Since the grant intent is to support mid and long term viability there was an emphasis on past performance, relevance and value to the community as a whole. The application was actually a nice way to reflect in what Rails End Gallery has done during my tenure as executive director.”
Jones added, “I would like to thank the Province of Ontario and its grant administrator, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, also Baker Tilly, our accountants for their solid service and advice through COVID.”
When asked about the gallery’s biggest needs, Jones joked that what they need most is a crystal ball.
Short of that, working with their base of supporters will be the next best way to face the near future.
Jones said, “I anticipate the logistics of running major events in Head Lake Park have changed a lot in the past two years and they will continue to shift with a new park plan, climate change, tourism and community concerns over parking. So our biggest need continues to be an engaged base of supporters, who recognize the societal value of the Arts and who are open to new ways of thinking about the role Rails End Gallery will play in supporting a sense of belonging, wellness and wonder post COVID while remaining financially secure.
If you have not already done so, Jones recommends signing up for free updates from the gallery by visiting railsendgallery.com. She also encourages people to visit in person soon. Look for more details about the gallery in a longer article in an upcoming edition of the Echo.
Also announced on Friday was the $14,600 in funding received by Highlands Summer Festival.
“We know COVID-19 has presented challenges for our local non-profits and that’s why our government is providing grants to ensure they can continue to provide the services and experiences our community members miss,” said Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock in the statement released from her office.