Ontario Supporting Safe, Innovative Festivals and Events in Waterloo Region

Published on August 11, 2021

Historic investment will help people reconnect with their communities in new ways,
support local economies


August 11, 2021


Kitchener – Today, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris joined Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and community organizations at THEMUSEUM to announce the Ontario government is investing over $1.2 million to support nine festivals and events across Waterloo Region through the Reconnect Festival and Event Program.


This one-time funding increase for festivals and events – more than double the annual funding provided to the sector in the past – will ensure the long-term success of the festival and event sector while helping municipalities and organizations deliver innovative and safe experiences, whether virtually or in-person, that allow people to safely reconnect with their communities.


The following local events are receiving funding support through the Reconnect Festival and Event Program:

  • $76,225 for Drayton Entertainment, Drayton Entertainment's Digital Series
  • $81,129 for Drayton Entertainment, St. Jacobs Theatre Festival's hybrid production of "Billy Bishop Goes To War"
  • $70,562 for The City Of Cambridge, Celebrate Cambridge Winter Festival
  • $250,000 for THEMUSEUM, UNZIPPED
  • $142,250 for Impact Events Group Inc., Kitchener Ribfest & Craft Beer Show
  • $148,500 for Kitchener Blues Community Inc., KBF Crossroads 2021
  • $140,750 for The City Of Kitchener, Christkindl Market
  • $250,000 for Beyond Oz Productions, Ever After Music Festival
  • $80,000 for The Multicultural Theatre Space (The MT Space) Inc., IMPACT 21 - An Outdoor and Livestreamed Festival for All Ages


“For more than a year, the pandemic has disproportionately impacted tourism and culture – two major industries that bring people together and our communities to life,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “Increasing our annual support for festivals and events will give the sector a much-needed boost as we continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19. Our government is supporting organizations that are finding new ways to safely engage and reconnect Ontarians with their local communities while creating local jobs.”


“This announcement is great news for our most popular events and festivals, Waterloo Region’s tourism industry, and those in the community ready to get back a sense of normalcy," said Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris. "I am pleased that our government is investing in these events which will support local jobs and stimulate the region’s economy.”


The Reconnect Festival and Event Program was developed to help festival and event organizers adapt to new public health measures with virtual, drive-through and other safe offerings. The program directs support to events with innovative and safe experiences, while creating opportunities that encourage Ontarians to reconnect with the beauty and diversity of their communities in new ways.


“The arts, culture and tourism sectors, including festivals, events and live performances were amongst the first industries to be impacted by COVID-19, and will likely be the last to recover,” said City of Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.  “We are very thankful to the provincial government for the additional investment in this sector and the various organizations in Kitchener and Waterloo region.  This sector and all of these organizations are highly valued by our community, giving our residents a strong sense of place, and support our local businesses, which we need now more than ever.”


The Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster program supports municipalities and organizations in Ontario that host large-scale, high-impact signature events that draw significant tourist attendance and increase tourist spending, increase Ontario’s profile through media and broadcast exposure and provide significant economic impact and legacy development for the province.


“We are thrilled to be receiving this boost from the Government of Ontario, said THEMUSEUM CEO David Marskell. “It will allow us to maximize The Rolling Stones | UNZIPPED exhibition, drawing tens of thousands to Kitchener to help reboot the local economy and hospitality sector.”


“Downtown Kitchener Ribfest & Craft Beer Show is excited to be back in September and grateful for the support of Ontario’s Reconnect Festival and Events Program to help make this happen,” said Guy Exley, President, Impact Events Group INC – Kitchener Ribfest & Craft Beer Show. We have missed connecting in-person and look forward to safely celebrating and enjoying good food and Ontario craft-brewed beer together again soon.”




  • Tourism is a key economic driver in Ontario – in 2018, the tourism industry supported more than 390,000 jobs and generated over $36 billion of economic activity for the province.
  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, every $1 of provincial funding invested through Celebrate Ontario (the model for the Reconnect program) resulted in almost $21 of visitor spending. The impact of the 2021/22 Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster and Reconnect Festival and Event Program investment is estimated to generate over $1 billion in economic benefit across the province.
  • Reconnect Festival and Event Program funding may be used for eligible expenses such as programming and production, marketing, mobile applications and website development, and making sure health and safety measures are put in place to keep audiences safe.
  • As announced in the 2021 Budget, Ontario is investing more than $400 million over the next three years in new initiatives to support tourism, culture, sport and recreation sectors. This builds on investments of $225 million announced earlier, bringing the total support for these sectors to more than $625 million since the pandemic began.



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