A Manitoba Liberal government would increase spending to the province’s arts and athletics organizations, party leader Dougald Lamont pledged Saturday.
The Manitoba Arts Council would receive $20 million in funding annually — up from $6 million a year — if the Liberals are elected on Oct. 3, he said.
Elite amateur athletes in Manitoba would also get a boost higher than the $1,000 a year they normally get to compete.
“We already have great artists and athletes who are not getting the support they need right now,” Lamont told CBC on Saturday.
Earlier this year, Manitoba performing arts organizations and other groups across the Prairies called for more government funding, saying the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will leave the arts scene in a fiscal crisis by 2024 if governments don’t step up.
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba Opera and Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre were among the Manitoba organizations that signed a letter to the federal government, calling for support.
Lamont said the funding increase his party is promising is a response to both that call and the lack of operational funding the organizations have faced for decades.
“These are incredible places … but they’re really, really struggling,” he said. The Liberal pledge is “about making sure that we are keeping these cultural pillars of our community.”
The Manitoba Liberals also say they would increase funding to Sport Manitoba to support its coaches, trainers and athletes.
The additional financial support for elite amateur athletes would match what other provinces provide for their athletes, he said.
“It would make a huge difference in the development for people who want to … go to the Olympics, go to the Western Canada Games, and become these elite amateur athletes.”
Advance voting in the provincial election began on Saturday, and continues until Sept. 30.
Election day is Oct. 3.