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Greektown BIA director says outside sponsorship needed to keep Taste of Danforth afloat

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The head of the Greektown on the Danforth BIA says new funding sources are needed in order to make the Taste of the Danforth festival viable going forward as member businesses can't bear the full cost themselves.

"The status is that the event is a very expensive event. It's very expensive to host in this city," Executive Director Mary Fragedakis told CP24 in an interview Friday.

Fragedakis said grants and sponsorships make up a good chunk of the funding for the event, which cost around $900,000 this year.

"The lion's share of what goes towards paying for such an event comes from those sources and in order to keep this festival reasonable for our members, we need those sponsors and we need those government grants."

The BIA has said that it lost $257,000 on the event this year and its members have rejected a 20 per cent increase to their levees that would be required to keep the festival afloat in 2024.

"We looked at a number of different options and our membership told us on Tuesday night that they don't want 20 per cent-plus increases to host the festival because they have CEBA loans to pay back and they have high labor costs and they have high costs, you know, to pay their suppliers," Fragedakis said.

She said the city has been "very generous" but added that "it's clearly not enough" and that they have already indicated that they will not be providing the same level of support in 2024 as they did in 2023.

"Obviously, there's some issues with the economy that are outside of our control. You know, it's a pretty serious situation," Fragedakis said. "So we're looking to see what our options are because we would need to fundraise and secure title sponsorship in order to host this thing in 2024 as the levees can't cover the festival.

She said the BIA is also looking to see whether it might qualify for grants from other levels of government, but outside sponsorship is likely the best option.

While she knows that there's a great deal of nostalgia and love for the festival, she said the participating businesses can't put it on any longer without outside support.

"So we've heard from people saying ‘Look, we love the festival, and if it could continue, that would be great,’ but it can't be the responsibility of a bunch of small business owners between Chester essentially and Jones Avenue to put on a festival for the whole City of Toronto without appropriate support and appropriate sponsorship."

The Toronto favourite event has been troubled for a number of years now. It was shut down in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022 it was set to return but was ultimately cancelled after the BIA said the festival was at risk of not being as successful as it had been in the past due to logistical issues with Café TO. The city stepped in to work with the festival, and it returned this year after a three-year absence.

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