Tuesday morning Deb Matthews, Ontario Deputy-Premier, announced that her government will be investing $3.3 million in the Blyth Arts and Culture Initiative 14/19 project, pending budget approval.
The announcement, made on the steps of Blyth Memorial Hall, was met with applause from the dozens of community members and stakeholders present.
Matthews, a London native, called Huron County a second home and recounted numerous trips to Blyth, whether it be to buy suede jackets at The Old Mill or to attend shows at the Blyth Festival. Her happiest times, she said, were always in Huron County, as she owns a cottage on Lake Huron.
With $3.3 million committed in this year’s provincial budget, which Matthews said she’s praying passes, she hoped that the federal government would also consider contributing to the project in the near future.
Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt was on hand for the announcement just days after his wife Gemma James-Smith gave birth to their new daughter and he thanked Matthews “profoundly” for her government’s investment in Blyth Memorial Hall and the numerous Blyth projects focused on the arts.
He said that the investment represents so much of the culture woven into the fabric of Blyth, not just the building that stood before those in attendance.
The investment represents the hundreds of thousands of patrons who have been part of a Festival show over the past four decades, he said. It also represents the thousands of artists who have laboured and reached for greatness at the Festival.