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Festivals and Artists Show Resilience as Live Events Return

June 03, 2022
Published In: Community Investment

​​​EDMONTON, AB – The sun is out, the grass is green and Festival City is ready to live up to its name again this summer. After more than two years of virtual concerts, exhibits and plays, Edmontonians – and visitors from near and far – are returning to the great outdoors (and indoors) for a season of creative works to warm the heart, stir the soul and get the feet moving. 

EPCOR is announcing that 22 arts, cultural and charitable organizations will receive $360,000 in the first phase of Heart + Soul funding this year. Along with support for festivals and events featuring comedy, music, theatre and film, grants will also help to match or support fundraising by Edmonton charities that support vulnerable children, teen parents, survivors of abuse and people experiencing poverty, homelessness and food insecurity. 

“Edmonton’s arts, cultural and charitable sectors have shown incredible determination throughout the pandemic,” said Stuart Lee, EPCOR President and CEO. “EPCOR’s Heart + Soul Fund was created to help our city, and other communities we serve in Canada and the U.S., stay strong and vibrant. We’ve extended that support this year to help those organizations meet new and growing demands.”

One of those needs is to help artists and musicians whose incomes have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. 

“A lot of my livelihood comes from my music, so the pandemic hit me hard,” said Métis Edmonton hip-hop fusion artist Bill LeBlanc, also known by the stage name Rellik.

LeBlanc’s band is one of around 60 acts or artists who will take part this weekend at Heart of the City, one of Edmonton’s first outdoor festivals of the season and a recipient of Heart + Soul funding. The free, family-friendly event aims to put emerging and marginalized musicians and spoken word artists in the spotlight, while enriching inner-city neighbourhood life. 

“Being able to meet fans and get your name out there is a huge part of the music business. Heart of the City will be our ‘dress rehearsal’ for the summer, and it’ll feel amazing to take the stage again,” said LeBlanc.

Much of the Heart + Soul funding to arts and culture organizations this year will be used to cover fees for artists, performers and creators of cultural works.

“COVID-19 prevented us from having an in-person festival, and many of the community organizations that supported us have suffered greatly,” said Corine Demas, President of the Heart of the City Festival Society. “We had to get creative, make changes and shift priorities. Having support from the Heart + Soul Fund has made a difference.”

Heart of the City runs Saturday, June 4 from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Giovanni Caboto Park (9425-109a Ave).

Arts and cultural organizations cont​inue to adapt

This marks the third year for the Heart + Soul Fund, which EPCOR created in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to support organizations that uplift and bring joy to communities. Since 2020, EPCOR has committed $3.5 million through the Heart + Soul Fund – in addition to the more than $1 million provided in community support each year.

The Heart + Soul Fund helped arts and cultural organizations stay resilient and create new and innovative programming during the pandemic. Even though live events are returning, Edmonton’s arts and culture organizations have indicated that they still need to be adaptive to the shifting public health landscape and the comfort levels of audiences.

The Heart + Soul Fund will once again help arts and cultural organizations adjust by supporting events in the community, such as parades and concerts and new creative works across the city.

“This generous support allows us to do what we do best: connect artists with audiences,” said Fringe Theatre’s Executive Director Megan Dart. “Thanks to this most recent phase of funding, we will elevate Indigenous voices and stories as part of the 41st Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in August. We are excited to celebrate community togetherness in the grand return of Edmonton’s beloved festival season.” 

This first phase of 2022 Heart + Soul funding support will assist 14 partner organizations to stage in-person community events and performances through the summer and fall. 

Additional announcements from fund recipients on these events, and how people and families can participate, are expected in the weeks and months ahead.

Heart + Soul helps charities address growing demand – and declining funds

The pandemic hit the most vulnerable members of our community especially hard as the need for food, shelter, mental health, substance abuse and family violence support skyrocketed. Dedicated non-profit organizations provided lifelines, but many struggled to meet demand because of falling donations.

Online donor platform CanadaHelps reported an expected drop of 12 per cent in charitable giving in Canada between 2019 and 2021.

EPCOR’s Heart + Soul Fund will once again help to fill the gap for Edmonton charities. A total of $160,000 from this announcement will support eight charities with matching funds as part of their own giving initiatives. 

“It truly takes a village – or in our case, a herd – to help children and youth who have experienced abuse,” said Emmy Stuebing, CEO of the Zebra Child Protection Centre, which supports children and young people who have experienced abuse. The Zebra Centre, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, saw its demand grow by 35 per cent in 2021 – from 2,844 to 3,844 children and young people supported.

“With the generous gift from EPCOR’s Heart + Soul fund, we can double the impact of donors to the Zebra Centre this year.”

More funding to com​e

EPCOR is allocating $500,000 this year through its Heart + Soul Fund. Grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 will be provided to organizations across EPCOR’s operational areas in Canada and the U.S. Organizations that did not receive funding in the first round of grants may be considered for the second round of grants. 

Grant applications remain open and organizations are still able to apply​. Guidelines and an easy-to-use online application system is available at ​​

View a full list of funding recipients this year.  

Quick facts:

  • Since 2020, EPCOR has committed $3.5 million in pandemic relief and recovery funding, which is in addition to the more than $1 million we provide in community support every year. 
  • A list of grants provided by the Heart + Soul Fund since 2020 is available here.
  • The charity sector leveraged EPCOR's $814,000 in matching funds to raise nearly $5.1 million towards critical services in food insecurity, homelessness, mental health, substance abuse and family violence.
  • Funding for the arts and culture sector helped employ 1,120 artists, and produce 628 new artistic works safely amid pandemic restrictions, bringing joy and entertainment to our community.

For more information, please contact:

Media Relations
Phone: (780) 721-9001


EPCOR, through its wholly owned subsidiaries, builds, owns and operates electrical, natural gas and water transmission and distribution networks, water and wastewater treatment facilities, sanitary and stormwater systems, and infrastructure in Canada and the United States. The Company also provides electricity, natural gas and water products and services to residential and commercial customers. EPCOR, headquartered in Edmonton, is committed to conducting its business and operations safely and responsibly. Environmental stewardship, public health and community well-being are at the heart of EPCOR’s mission to provide clean water and safe, reliable energy. EPCOR is an Alberta Top 75 employer, and is ranked among Corporate Knights’ 2021 Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada.

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