Cape Breton arts and culture groups to receive $400K in provincial funding



a sign on the side of a building: The Savoy Theatre has been operating for nearly a century in Glace Bay.


© Brent Kelloway/CBC
The Savoy Theatre has been operating for nearly a century in Glace Bay.

Some arts and culture venues in Cape Breton are thankful they will be able to stay open and plan their futures thanks to provincial government funding.

The Nova Scotia government is providing more than $2 million for 89 arts and culture groups throughout the province. 

Of that $2 million, $400,000 will go to 11 groups from Cape Breton. They will receive funding ranging from $5,000 to the maximum grant of $75,000.

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The Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay, the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s, as well as the New Dawn Convent Society and the Highland Arts Theatre, both in Sydney, will receive the maximum grant.

Aiming for April reopening

Pam Leader, executive director of the Savoy Theatre, said the grant will help the nearly 100-year-old theatre through the first months of 2021.

“We hope to open in April, if all goes well. We will also live stream because there were so many people across the country who … were just loving it,” she said, adding it made people feel “like they were home.” 

Leader could not say how much revenue the theatre has lost during the pandemic because its fiscal year has not yet ended.

She said she hopes public health restrictions will ease in the coming months so the theatre and the province can agree on how to safely host an audience inside the venue.

“We’re such a large venue that even when restrictions do change a little bit, it’s still hard for us to open like a 760 [seat] theater for 100 people,” said Leader.

Programs suddenly suspended

The New Dawn Convent opened last February and quickly had to stop planning any art programs and focus on the tenants that work out of the building. The Convent is billed on its website as “a creative community to inspire artists, residents and visitors.”



a sign on the side of a snow covered road: The Convent has been designed as a large community art gallery.


© Tom Ayers/CBC
The Convent has been designed as a large community art gallery.

Manager Christie MacNeil said the Convent has suffered a significant loss because it was unable to rent out spaces in 2020.

“Event rental space income makes up a lot of how we are able to provide subsidized affordable spaces for artists in the building,” said MacNeil.

She said with that loss, along with rent abatement for four tenants, they really needed the extra help.

“This funding is really critical to aid in the sustainability of the project,” said MacNeil.

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