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Good Foundation supports Region Arts Fund

Lauren Harder-Gissing is the archivist librarian at the Milton Good Library at Conrad Grebel University College, named for the founder of the Good Foundation. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

Looking to streamline its granting support for arts groups in Waterloo Region, the London-based Good Foundation has partnered with the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund. The foundation will provide funding – it’s already turned over $40,000 for the fall cycle – and the arts fund will look after taking applications and awarding grants.

Established by the late Milton and Verna Good in 1974, the Good Foundation distributes funds to charitable organizations in communities of which family members are a part.  Since its establishment, the Good Foundation has distributed more than $6.5 million to various organizations. The Region of Waterloo Arts Fund was created by the Waterloo Regional council in 2002, and has granted more than $3.6 million to arts projects in the region since that time.

Where the Good Foundation at one time provided funding to a range of causes, including the likes of hospitals and medical research, it’s shifted focus of late to arts groups.

“A little bit of money goes a long way with arts and culture,” said foundation president Jim Good.

“We’re essentially a small charity, … and there are many demands, some of them are big asks. We found we had to narrow it.”

On the arts side, the family foundation has support symphony orchestras, art galleries and theatre groups such as the Stratford Festival. In Waterloo Region, grants typically amount to about $50,000 a year, he said.

Handing over administrative duties to the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund will simplify the process here and help avoid overlaps and duplication, Good added, noting the foundation receives some 20 to 25 applications annually from regional groups.

With the foundation’s money, the arts fund will be an even more valuable asset for area arts groups, he suggested.

“It makes it more interesting because they have more money to give away,” said Good, calling it a “win-win situation.”

In a letter to the region, Good reflected on the goodwill established between the two funding groups.  “Good Foundation Inc. has much in common with the arts fund. Since its beginnings in Waterloo Region in 1974, the foundation has made many local grants relating to arts and culture. We now have a minimal presence in Waterloo Region which makes our granting here more difficult.  Your arts fund already has in place an excellent adjudication process. We believe our aims will be well served by adding some funds to what your arts fund currently distributes.”

“We are honoured to have been given the opportunity and responsibility to carry on the philanthropic legacy created by the Good family in the name of Milton and Verna Good,” said Betty Anne Keller, chair of the arts fund board, in a release announcing the partnership.

The Good Foundation’s endowment fund now has some $9 to $10 million built up over the 45 years since it was started, said Good. Annual grants come from the investment income, which the family sees as public funds given the tax benefits it receives from the foundation.

“It’s public money, and we’re trying to be as efficient as possible with it,” said Good.

Legally, the foundation has to give away a minimum of 3.5 per cent of the fund each year, with contributions amounting to $350,000 to $400,000 annually at this point.

The $40,000 the foundation has turned over for this year will be added to the fall intake cycle for applications. The deadline for the next round is September 6. More information is available at www.artsfund.ca.


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