Orangeville writes grant cheques for pair of events

April 27, 2023   ·   0 Comments


Orangeville council has a clearer picture of two first-time applicants seeking money from its Community Grant Funding purse.

Council approved a trove of monetary grants to community organizations during its meeting on April 3. But two first-time applicants were asked to introduce their events to council. They were the Elysian Festival for $10,000, and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Camp for $9,000.

Some councillors felt those requests entailed a lot of money for unfamiliar first-time applicants.

Some of the uncertainty was cleared up during council’s regular meeting on April 17.

Leanne De Palma, the Elysian Festival founder, expects to host as many as 200 people at the two-day festival at the Alder Street arena. Participants, who will pay $150 to attend the event, will participate in yoga-themed discussions and events. Meditation and mindfulness will be explored at the event.

The festival is planned for Aug. 12-13.

Portions of the money generated will be donated to mental health initiatives in Orangeville.

De Palma described to council that the festival will help assuage any mental health troubles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and its social upheaval.

“Just like many people during COVID, it was a difficult time,” she said. “A lot of us suffered from mental health issues.”

She said she lost her brother to mental health issues in September 2020.

“He is my … motivation to start this festival,” De Palma said.

Losing her brother and witnessing people struggle with the rising cost of living and other daily hardships was the inspiration for the festival.

Mindfulness and meditation are effective in helping get through troublesome times, she said.

“I just decided one day that I’m going to do this, I’m going get people together and start a community, and create the Elysian Festival,” De Palma said.

The community grant will go towards a large tent that will be erected outside, lighting and sound equipment, and venue rental fees to the town.

De Palma said the event’s projected budget is about $20,000.

“So that grant will help us … spread our wings, get ourselves going a little bit,” she said.

The rest of the money will be covered through ticket sales and other community donations.

Councillor Tess Prendergast said not all the people who attend the event will be from Orangeville. And, she said, the ticket price is prohibitive.

Coun. Debbie Sherwood said $10,000 is a lot of taxpayers’ money for an event that many of them will not be able to attend.

Council decided to provide half of the request and approved a $5,000 grant for the Elysian Festival.

Kevin Cougler, the executive director and STEM Camp founder, said the summer day camp organization is a federally registered non-profit. There’s been a camp in Orangeville since 2018.

The camp is an eight-week event in Orangeville, and it generally garners 320 participants each year.

“I founded STEM Camp because we had forecasted that there was going to be a labour shortage in the STEM fields,” he said.

Cougler said the request is for $9,000 to cover about 34 spots for participants at $265 a week.

Councillor Joe Andrews said he’s struggling with the $9,000 amount.

At the suggestion of Coun. Andy Macintosh, council decided to provide $5,000 to the local STEM Camp.

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