Music director questions why province is giving $4M to junior hockey teams

·2 min read

Last week, junior hockey teams scored $4 million in funding from the province to help get them through the pandemic.

While that's good news for the hockey teams, there are those that are wondering where the funding help is for the arts.

"I was taken aback that our government would shovel $4 million toward hockey," Brent Ghiglione told The Afternoon Edition's Garth Materie.

Ghiglione, the director of bands at the University of Regina, said he voiced his concerns in a letter to Laura Ross, minister of Parks, Culture and Sport.

On Friday, the provincial government announced $3 million in funding for Saskatchewan's five Western Hockey League teams and $1 million for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

Dean Gutheil/CBC
Dean Gutheil/CBC

Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said in a statement that the hockey funding was done because junior hockey teams are a big part of the cultural fabric and local economies in Saskatchewan.

"Really? It's a sport. How is this cultural?" asked Ghiglione.

He'd like to see similar investments for things like music, visual arts and theatre.

"There are lots of awesome organizations and musicians and artists in our province that are trying to figure out where their mortgage is coming from," he said. "And yet they can shovel off $4 million over to hockey so that they will be able to survive the pandemic."

He said the cultural backbone of the community is the artists and the films and musicians.

"I mean, how many freelance musicians are starving right now?

"It's sickening. I'm not a hockey hater. I like sports. And I totally respect it. But it's sports. These are young, young men and ladies, I'm guessing, that are doing sport. And we've got people that can't pay their mortgage."

For example, Ghiglione said, the Regina Symphony is playing small concerts in churches just to stay afloat.

"I just think it's so short sighted by the government to only pick on one segment of our society. I mean, is the money going to go to the people that, you know, have the ear of the government? The government's supposed to be looking out for everyone."

CBC has reached out to the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport for a response but have not received a reply.