Why the Arts Should be Funded (Toronto, we’re lagging – still…)

New Study:  Toronto Falls Far Behind large Canadian Cities in Municipal Arts Investment
Release from the Toronto Arts Council

Hill Strategies Research released a report today, Municipal Cultural Investment in Five Large Canadian Cities, comparing funding in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
Investment by Toronto City Council ranks lowest by a wide margin: per capita investment in each city is, from highest to lowest:

Montreal: $55
Vancouver: $47
Calgary: $42
Ottawa: $28
Toronto: $19

“Throughout major international cultural centres, municipal arts funding is key to maintaining a thriving creative city, attractive to residents and tourists alike.  We are at the tipping point; this study clearly demonstrates that Toronto risks losing its position as Canada’s go-to city for arts and culture.” noted Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director of Toronto Arts Council.

The impact of cultural investment is felt throughout Toronto’s economy, much of which is dependent upon a vibrant arts sector.  The arts and culture industry contributes $9 billion to Toronto’s local economy and supports 130,000 jobs.

In May 2011, Toronto City Council affirmed the critical importance of arts and culture funding when it unanimously endorsed the Creative Capital Gains report.  The report recommends increasing Toronto’s arts funding to $25 per capita.

In contradiction of this unanimous decision, the 2012 City Operating Budget, approved by Budget Committee yesterday, recommends a reduction in Toronto’s arts and culture grants by $2 million and additional reductions to the city’s department of Economic Development and Culture.   Given that every dollar invested by the city in grants to arts organizations in Toronto leverages an additional $17 in funding from other sources this will have the direct effect of reducing investment in Toronto by $25 million.

“It is hard to exaggerate the impact of such a cut.  Of course artists and arts organizations will be affected, but so too will every Toronto resident who benefits from access to arts programming as well as Toronto’s tourism industry, its restaurants, hotels, taxis and retail sectors” said John McKellar, Chair of Toronto Arts Council.

Toronto’s Executive Committee, chaired by the Mayor, will review the Budget Committee’s recommended budget on Thursday, January 12, following which it will go to the full City Council on January 17 for final approval.

For more information, please contact: Susan Wright, 416-392-6802 x211; susan@torontoartscouncil.org.

On that note but in the opposite way – an article from the Guardian – Why Should We Fund the Arts?

BUDGET DAY TOMORROW! Let’s see what’s happened because of or despite hundreds and thousands of people writing, calling, giving deputations in person, signing petitions, you name it.


3 Comments to “Why the Arts Should be Funded (Toronto, we’re lagging – still…)”

  1. We face the same problem here. When there is any money, it goes to recreation. I understand the need for facilities for sports but I wish there was more of an even approach.

  2. Thanks for the link to the Guardian article. Funding for the arts seems to always be at the bottom of any budget.
    If it was easier to quantify the value of the arts, arguments for funding would have a better success rate. Unfortunately,
    quantifying the arts is as esoteric as agreeing on the meaning of any abstract artwork! More value studies need to be done but, again, they would have to be funded.

    • it’s frustrating as hell – the continuous quantification and qualification and the facts are there – economic, mental and physical health all the benefits to cities, communities, individuals, – you name it and still it’s always a struggle.

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