Manitoba premier says grants will be more dependent on private matching dollars

Manitoba premier says grants will be more dependent on private matching dollars

WINNIPEG — A project billed as the largest Inuit art centre in the world took another step forward Friday as Manitoba promised another $5 million.

But there is a catch — organizers will have to raise another $10 million in private donations to get the new government money.

Premier Brian Pallister, who had previously committed $10 million, said requiring two-for-one matching private donations is a better way of funding capital projects for the arts and sports.

"We want to stretch our dollars," Pallister said.

"Instead of the old way — where people came to us with applications and said 'if you give us millions of dollars, we'll go out and fundraise' — we're trying to turn that around, frankly, and say 'you go out and fundraise first'."

Construction is to start soon on the Inuit art centre, which will be housed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. 

The centre will cover 3,600 square metres when it opens in 2020. Its modern, open design will include lots of natural light and ceilings as high as 10 metres. It will display several thousand works of art and is projected to cost $65 million.

The federal government has contributed $15 million and the City of Winnipeg has chipped in $5 million.

The gallery has already raised $22 million in private donations, and executive director Stephen Borys said he is confident another $10 million can be raised to trigger the new provincial cash.

The centre will enhance Manitoba's standing internationally, Borys said.

"It will embolden Manitoba's unique role as the gateway to the north, an international tourist destination and a leader in Indigenous art and culture."

The former NDP government promised $15 million for the centre, with no strings attached, shortly before losing the 2016 provincial election.

Pallister said Friday the NDP had not set aside any money to follow through on the promise.

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press