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Segal’s future brighter with new Ottawa money

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CEO Manon Gauthier and artistic producer Paul Flicker speak at the Segal Centre’s 2013-2014 season launch.

MONTREAL — The unprecedented $2 millon in federal funding to the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, announced March 18, will help ensure its future, but the money can’t be used for operations, chief executive officer Manon Gauthier clarified.

The $2 million will go into the centre’s endowment fund, managed by the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal, and only revenue generated by the fund can go toward day-to-day costs.

The Segal received the money under the Endowment Incentives component of the Canadian Heritage department’s Canada Cultural Investment Fund, which aims to encourage private support for the arts.

The Segal has benefited from the Endowment Incentives program since the program’s inception in 2005 and in every year since, receiving a total of $8.5 million.

These grants, however, are contingent upon cultural institutions raising a matching amount from the private sector. This year, for the first time, that ratio was dollar for dollar, said Gauthier.

The formula has varied in the past, with the Segal having to raise up to about $1.70 for every dollar from Endowment Incentives.

Fortunately for the centre, the federal funding has been matched almost entirely by the Alvin Segal Family Foundation.

The $2 million was higher than the Segal had hoped for, and is being taken as a vote of confidence in the centre, which is now 46 years old (it was previously the Saidye Bronfman Centre).

The Segal’s endowment fund has now reached close to $18.5 million. The revenue from it provides 17 per cent of the centre’s annual budget, which this year is projected to be $4.8 million.

That’s significant, Gauthier said, but the Segal still relies on private donations for almost half of its budget.

Total funding from the three levels of government accounts for only six per cent of the budget. The Segal annually receives about $35,000 from the Conseil des arts de Montréal, about $100,000 from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and a little over $100,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Another six per cent is allocated by Federation CJA, of which the Segal is an agency. Ticket sales contribute 22 per cent, and donations and sponsorships represent the largest single share at 49 per cent.

Gauthier hopes that the boost from Ottawa and the Segal’s success in building its endowment fund will encourage more philanthropy from the private sector and make the other government funders realize that the centre deserves a bigger piece of the pie.

“I think we should get our fair share compared to our peers in the cultural industry,” she said. “It’s rare in Canada for a cultural institution to have to raise so much money on its own.”

She pointed out that the Centaur Theatre, for example, derives one-third of its budget from public funding.

There was good news for the Segal and other cultural institutions with endowments in the March 21 federal budget. The $10-million cap per institution on Endowment Incentives grants has been raised to $15 million.

The Segal is also a beneficiary of Quebec’s more modest endowment matching grant program, and that fund is managed for the Segal by the Foundation of Greater Montreal.

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