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Province cuts funding to Beaches Jazz Festival

One of Toronto’s most popular summer music festivals has lost its provincial funding and it could mean major changes this year.

The Beaches International Jazz Festival has been a staple of the east-end community for 26 years and draws hundreds of thousands of music lovers to the popular neighbourhood.

“We started planning last September. We submitted the application in November and we received notification on the 13th of March that we would not be successful,” festival executive producer Lido Chilelli told 680News.

The event has received funding for the event from the province for the last six years through the Celebrate Ontario program.

“When we received the letter of regret, as an organization, we were shocked that we weren’t seen as a vital part of the 2014 Celebrate Ontario partnership,” said Chilelli.

He added that no explanation for the decision to not provide funding for the event was included in the letter.

Chilelli said without the $75,000 grant the festival will have to be scaled back to the “bare minimum,” including reducing the number of stages from three or four to one.

The free 10-day festival generates millions for the local economy.

“This is the largest jazz festival by far in the whole province. This festival generates $65 million into the Toronto economy and over $30 million of that right in the Beach area,” Beaches-East York MPP Michael Prue said in a statement.

Last year 500,000 people attended the festival.

Chilelli said he hopes they will be able to generate funding from other sources so they are able to maintain the festival’s integrity.

“We’re hoping that corporate sponsorship comes out and the Beach community comes out to support the festival so it can maintain its identity and be the premier jazz festival in Ontario that it has been for the last decade,” he explained.

Prue said he has called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to intervene in the decision and revisit the festival’s funding application.

A representative for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport has not yet returned a request for a statement on the matter.

The festival runs from July 18 to 27.