The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) is speeding up financial support to one of the region’s largest arts organizations.

On Wednesday, February 22, UCPR council approved a resolution to immediately allocate $100,000 to the Conseil des Arts Prescott-Russell Arts Council (CAPRAC), so the organization can meet its financial obligations. The funding is normally disbursed quarterly in equal amounts. Discussions will also take place about providing an additional $50,000 in funding that the organization has requested from the counties.  

CAPRAC represents, supports, and promotes artists and galleries across the region.

At the UCPR Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, February 8, CAPRAC Executive Director  Margo Malboeuf, President Line Labrecque, and Treasurer Tina Petrovicz attended. They requested the counties provide CAPRAC with $150,000 annually for three years, from January of 2023 to December of 2025, with annual increases of three per cent to account for inflation.

According to UCPR Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Stéphane Parisien, $100,000 had already been allocated for CAPRAC in the 2023 budget.

Malboeuf said the increase is needed to keep CAPRAC functioning.

“This funding will allow us to pursue our daily activities,” she said.

CAPRAC is also trying to secure more grant funding from the Ontario government.

“CAPRAC would not and will not exist without our partners at the United Counties,” Malboeuf said.

She added that all additional grants CAPRAC receives are usually only for specific projects, and not day-to-day operations.  

Parisien said the UCPR established CAPRAC under the Department of Economic Development in 2014.

Petrovicz said UCPR funding for CAPRAC has been $100,000 annually since 2019. She said the organization has lost two executive directors in the past two years.

“We couldn’t fund those wages,” Petrovicz said.

Russell Township Pierre Leroux said he would like to see the UCPR get more return on its investment and suggested CAPRAC could manage a community calendar website for the entire region.

Petrovic said it already offers a calendar of its events, but could provide the link to be posted on the UCPR website.

Parisien said the funding request from CAPRAC was received after the 2023 budget was planned and questioned if $150,000 was the right amount. He suggested providing funding to get CAPRAC through the next few months, while exploring options to reduce the organization’s expenses.

“What is your current membership at, and what are the advantages of being a member?” asked The Nation Mayor Francis Brière.

Malboeuf said they currently have 82 members, who register with a pay-what-you-can model. Membership provides access to the event calendar, and assistance with finding financial support for projects.

“As a member, I’d be willing to pay for the services you provide. I suggest you maybe don’t give it out for free and then you’ll see how involved people are,” responded Brière.

Malboeuf said they switched to that model during COVID-19, when fewer services were being offered, and revenue actually increased.