Whistler's arts and community groups will soon receive a nice surprise in their bank accounts, courtesy of the provincial ministry that oversees gaming grants.
In an announcement on Jan. 11, B.C. Premier Christy Clark reinstated $15 million in gaming grants, raising the fund to $135 million. The fund was cut from its original $150 million in August 2009.
Now organizations that did not receive the full gaming grant they had applied for to meet their 2012 programming plans will have their grants increased without needing to reapply.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development said the monies would automatically appear in their accounts — without written or email notice — via electronic transfer.
Ministry staff are currently going through earlier applications to see how much each group will get, said the spokesman. The reason there will be no notice to recipients is that the system is not in place to notify groups in time.
"They will be topped up in the next few weeks without needing to reapply. Their applications are now under review," he said.
He was unable to name which groups were being reviewed or say how much they will get because the process is not yet completed.
In Whistler, this could impact 13 to 15 groups, including the Whistler Arts Council and the Whistler Museum.
As well, Whistler non-profits and charitable groups that were unsuccessful in their provincial gaming grant applications for 2012 are being urged to apply immediately for funds available this year. The B.C. government is holding this special intake for applications running from mid-January until Monday, Feb. 13.
This includes groups that may have had part of their funding approved, say for children's programs, but could not apply for an adult program they wanted to offer because adult programming had been dropped from eligibility.
Questions on eligibility can be directed to the ministry at Gaming.Branch@gov.bc.ca and more information can be found at http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/gaming/grants/docs/info-special-intake-grants-2011-12.pdf
Previously ineligible organizations include those related to adult arts and culture, adult sports, the environment and animal welfare. Animal shelters, fish and wildlife associations, lake and stream stewardship societies, district arts councils, museum societies, theatre and similar groups can also now apply online.
Doti Niedermayer, the executive director of the Whistler Arts Council, declined to comment on the news until she knew how it impacted her organization.
Gaming grant funds to the WAC were gutted in 2009, with the arts council gaining no funding at all in 2010/2011.