POLITICS
03/26/2014 05:55 EDT | Updated 05/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Toronto community jazz fest gets lifeline after govt slammed over grant choices

TORONTO - A community jazz festival in Toronto has been thrown a lifeline days after Ontario's governing Liberals came under fire for cutting the event's funding while doling out a grant to a concert series run by rap superstar Drake.

Culture Minister Michael Chan says in a statement that a $75,000 grant will go to the Beaches International Jazz Festival — a free event that has received that amount for each of the past six years.

The festival had its annual request to the Celebrate Ontario grant program denied this year, sparking calls for the government to stop funding giant corporations and celebrities such as Drake while cutting funding to community events.

However, Chan says the Beaches festival had also applied this January to a different program, the Ontario Music Fund, and that money from that grant was approved earlier this week.

Multimillionaire rapper Drake has been awarded a $300,000 Celebrate Ontario grant to stage his two-day OVO Fest in Toronto this summer — where admissions range from $66.50 to $750 for "platinum" tickets.

Meanwhile, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, a sports giant estimated to be worth $2 billion, has requested $10 million from the province to expand and upgrade a soccer field in Toronto.

The Liberals had defended the decision to fund the Drake concert rather than the neighbourhood jazz festival, saying Celebrate Ontario is a competitive program that drew 441 applications last year. The jazz festival's proposal just didn't make the cut, they said.

In his statement announcing the funding Wednesday, Chan said the provincial government has been a "proud partner" in the success of the Beaches music event over the years by offering up grant cash.

"This support will help the festival consolidate their performance stages and showcase a greater diversity of musicians and performers. This is good news for the Beaches Jazz Festival, it will help attract tourists and support Ontario's live music strategy."