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Arts charity receives $1.5 million funding for infrastructure project in Ontario

An arts and culture charity in Ontario has received over $1 million dollars, 1.5 million Canadian, to fund a long-envisioned expansion.

Their 50-acre home will gain a new performance hall and a renovated dining hall with all-gender accessible bathrooms.

AlgomaTrad Founders say the project started with a fundraising campaign, which brought in $350,000 dollars in community donations to help leverage government funding.

“It was humbling,” said Founder Pat O’Gorman. “Our small music and arts organization in Northern Ontario can raise $350,000 because of our connections and our beliefs and the vision that we're representing. It's pretty fantastic.”

AlgomaTrad received $1 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) and $500,000 from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario (FedNor) to start the renovations.

O’Gorman said he expects the dining hall to be complete by summer 2023 and the performance hall to be complete by summer 2024.

The performance hall will be called "Dan's Hall" to honor a friend of the AlgomaTrad founders, who passed away in 2015. "(He was) a wonderful guy, who was really the soul of the of our organization when we when we put on dances, and also camps. And he loved puns," AlgomaTrad Founder Pat O'Gorman said.

“Our goal was to have the buildings blend in with the environment, to have them feel like they're alive,” said AlgomaTrad Founder Julie Schryer.

AlgomaTrad was established in 2004, previously renting venues for its dances, concerts, workshops, festivals, and annual Family Camp. The new hub will allow AlgomaTrad to operate year-round.

O’Gorman says he expects AlgomaTrad’s new home to be a destination for artists and crafters from the U.S., Canada and beyond.

“There's a long term plan eventually to have studios and cabins and dorms and things like that, but right now is to get the basic core of the structure together,” he said.

The founders also said sustainability is a big part of their vision, and the new hub will also be a permaculture center where they can compost and grow food.

Jill Harrington is a senior at CMU majoring in journalism and minoring in theatre and interpretation. Jill grew up in Novi, Michigan and started reporting for WCMU in summer 2022.