Ontario pumps $10 million into TIFF

Province's deputy premier praises festival's 'economic stimulus' with grant towards Bell Lightbox

The Toronto International Film Festival Group has now reached 80% of its fundraising goal for its new headquarters, the Bell Lightbox, thanks to a $10 million grant from the Ontario government.

Ontario Deputy Premier George Smitherman and Minister of Culture Aileen Carroll were on hand Thursday to present the cheque to TIFFG CEO Piers Handling, who said the gift ‘demonstrates strong support and recognition of the tremendous cultural impact TIFF will generate with a permanent home.’ He confirmed that the grant brings the organization to ’80% of our fundraising goal.’

Given that TIFFG announced that it had received $147 million of the $196 million budget for the building in May 2008, Handling’s statement indicates that very little additional funds have been received over the past year. While $157 million does amount to approximately 80%, Handling was quick to assure the assembled crowd of festival board members, philanthropists and press that ‘there will be upcoming philanthropic news in the months to come.’

Ontario has already given TIFFG $25 million towards the construction of Lightbox, so the additional $10 million does indicate that fundraising had stalled on the building. But Smitherman carefully pointed out that TIFF ‘animates the economy of the city, as well as the hearts and souls’ of cinemagoers.

TIFFG estimates Lightbox will generate approximately $200 million in revenue during its initial five years of activity. The festival itself generates $67 million for the province, thanks to attendance figures that have reached 450,000 per year.

Meanwhile, the Lightbox is expected to receive another financial boost next week, with an announcement by TIFF and the Royal Bank of Canada set for Wednesday.