When Green Light Arts applied for a City community grant (tier 2) back in 2015, they were a budding charitable theatre company looking to break into the Waterloo Region arts scene. Based in Kitchener and founded in 2014, Green Light Arts is now known for their well-crafted, provocative, and entertaining theatrical productions that enhance our community and encourage audiences towards positive social change.

“Our vision is that professional, contemporary, and socially-conscious theatre will be strongly associated with Waterloo Region's cultural identity and that the art form of theatre will continue to be a vital and valued part of society,” said Carin Lowerison, managing director, producer and co-founder

of Green Light Arts. “We received a community grant for the first time in 2015 and it was crucial to helping us get our organization off the ground.”

Two people sitting on white buckets on a black background

Rainbow Reels, Waterloo Region’s longest running 2SLGBTQ+ arts collective has a similar story. The Queer and Trans Film and Arts Festival, which aims to celebrate, showcase, and honour authentic 2SLGBTQ+ stories and art, first applied for a community grant through the city back in 2016.

Couple singing at microphone at a concert

“We are an independent artistic collective, which means that we are dependent on grants,” said Hannah Enns, operations and festival coordinator for Rainbow Reels. “We believe in paying artists and making art accessible for all. Community grant funding has helped financially by allowing us to invest in notable artistry and pay to bring to the stage 2SLBGTQ+ artists and makers in our community, while also removing the financial barriers that often exist to enjoy art. This additional funding has helped to make our goals a reality.”

Community grants can help support not for profit organizations that provide services in the areas of arts and culture, special events, community support and development and minor sports or recreation. Community groups can apply to be considered for funding for operating costs, as well as project, special event and equipment support. For organizations like Green Light Arts and Rainbow Reels, this funding has been instrumental in enabling their growth. 

“When you’re a start-up organization like ours, that has taken so much hard work, time, and effort to grow, it means the world to have your city in your corner, backing you up,” said Lowerison. “It has also meant that projects that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do, are possible. With the theatre projects we started off producing, we didn’t always have ready access to funding or sponsorship. Community grant funding enabled theatre projects and outreach projects to happen.” 

As community grant recipients, Green Light Arts and Rainbow Reels are able to use the funding to help offset operating costs such as insurance, office rent, staff and theatre projects, while also helping grow their organizations and build capacity for the future. With investment from the city both organizations have built momentum for additional funding to help achieve their unique goals.

“Tier 2 community grant funding showed other funders that there was investment and momentum behind the work that we were doing and encouraged them to invest in us as well,” said Lowerison.

For an emerging non-profit, demonstrating funding from multiple streams is an important consideration for the review committee that approves community grant funding. Additional investment contributes to an organization’s ability to deliver valued services to the community, while achieving financial stability for the future.

Does your organization work for the common good of Kitchener residents? You may be eligible for a community grant. For application criteria and information visit www.kitchener.ca/communitygrants. Deadline for applications for the 2022 grant funding program is 9 a.m., Monday, December 6.