Christmas came a little early for local choir director Diane Maxey this year after the Ontario Trillium Foundation announced last week it granted $11,500 to local choral groups, including the Fort Frances Choraliers and Fort Harmonies.
“It’s very exciting new that we were able to get that,” enthused Maxey.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
The choral groups will use the money to purchase sound equipment, as well as a trailer, risers, office equipment, and resource materials, to enhance their performances and better establish them as a fixture in the community, she noted.
Maxey said having the sound equipment and risers will allow the various choirs always have the right tools for the job when they do performances.
The trailer, meanwhile, will give them a space to store their gear in one convenient location.
Maxey was able to get the grant thanks to the local Valley Adult Learning Association (VALA) which, as a non-profit organization with a charitable registration number, made her eligible to apply for the Trillium grant (the choral groups currently are not incorporated as a non-profit entity).
VALA administrator Barb Duguay said that through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, it is mandated to partner with community programs.
The VALA board decided each year it would partner with a different one—both to give it exposure and as a learning experience.
When Maxey approached VALA as a non-profit partner which would allow her to apply for the Trillium grant, the board agreed, Duguay noted.
The partnership over the next year will involve the VALA board handling the choral groups’ finances, with the choral groups providing some musical expertise in return, such as music appreciation or music notation courses for VALA learners.
“What they’ll be offering for us is different classes which match up with the essential skills we’re trying to build on in people in the community,” Duguay explained.
She added VALA is excited the grant went through, and that it can work with Maxey and the choral groups during the year ahead.
Maxey said after the year has elapsed, she hopes the various choral groups—including the Fort Frances Choraliers, Fort Harmonies, Rainy Lake Ringers, and youth choir—will be incorporated together as a non-profit entity with its own charitable registration number.
Officially establishing the groups in this way has been a goal for years, she noted.
“I can see the end of the tunnel, the long tunnel,” chuckled Maxey. “It’s coming to fruition, and it’s because of the love and support of all the people in town that it’s happened.
“That’s our aim . . . to become incorporated and become not anybody else’s responsibility but our own.
“But it’s a long process, and not a cheap process,” she stressed.
Maxey noted the choral groups have been putting any free-will offerings they get at performances back into themselves, and truly appreciate the community’s support in the past.
She added they will continue to use monies collected in this way to further enhance their performances, with addition of items like scarves for the female singers, silk ties for the male singers, vests, and new music.
“Anything that any service clubs or individuals want to donate—any kind of funds—will always be appreciated,” said Maxey.
“We do go out on a limb, and the only thing that makes us run is getting free-will offerings at our performances,” she noted.
The only other local community receiving an OTF grant for this round of announcements was the Town of Rainy River, which got $25,600 to conduct a structural assessment of its recreational facilities, including the community centre, arena, and curling rink, and develop a long-term replacement plan.
This will help ensure safe and well-maintained facilities for use by residents of all ages and abilities.