Last year, the provincial government of Ontario granted Drake $300,000 to help fund OVO Fest through their “Celebrate Ontario” program. Some people thought this was a good call, but others were pretty pissed off, because that is hella money being handed over to a dude who is always rapping about all of his money. Take this verse in “Energy,” for example: “I got people talkin’ down, man, like I give a fuck/ I bought this one a purse, I bought this one a truck/ I bought this one a house, I bought this one a mall/ I keep buyin’ shit, just make sure you keep track of it all.” Or maybe this one from “10 Bands” is more pertinent: “I’ve been on a mission, haven’t left the condo/ This that OVO, that SZN, this that new Toronto/ I get boxes of free Jordans like I play for North Carolina/ How much I make off the deal, how the fuck should I know?” Yes, Drake is a patron of the arts, and yes, maybe OVO Fest is making Ontario look like a dope place to live, but the bottom line is: it’s a for-profit festival, not some great philanthropic project. It’s viewed as an ego-booster for Drake — warranted given his massive success, sure, but not necessarily deserving of taxpayer money.
The provincial government awarded $19 million in Celebrate Ontario grants this year, none of which will go into 2015’s OVO Fest. According to Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport’s press secretary Blane McPhail, OVO Fest “didn’t qualify this year” based on pre-determined application criteria. The grant’s purpose is explained in a press release:
Through the Celebrate Ontario 2015 program, the province is helping 270 festivals and events, the highest number in the history of the program, celebrate Ontario’s diversity, heritage and culture… This support will help organizers enhance programming and services, attract new audiences and create jobs in the tourism sector.
Drake’s festival isn’t entirely self-serving. According to former Minister of Tourism Michael Chan, OVO Fest proposed enhanced programs to increase future attendance, which included a charity component:
Part of OVO Fest’s enhancement proposal includes a basketball tournament — which organizers anticipate will draw 5,000 people — a two-day beach party and the OVO Celebrity Panel Summit, to be held at locations other than the concert venue. The OVO Celebrity Panel Summit is partnering with The Remix Project — a Toronto based charity that provides creative educational programs, facilitators and facilities to youth from underserved communities.
McPhail says OVO Fest was given feedback on their proposal, and that they’ve been encouraged to reapply in 2016. It’s important to note that Drake’s record label, OVO Sound, did receive $45,000 in provincial funding from the Ontario Music Fund. Read more over at Billboard.
OVO Fest will take place 8/1-3 at Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. Tickets are already sold-out. Here’s the poster, which includes an extremely aggravating erroneous apostrophe:
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.]