news, updates, and conversations from Volcano Theatre

Friday, 15 November 2013

After Arts Day: Our Future with City Council

Meaghan Davis is Volcano's Manager of Communications & Enrichment. She is also an organizer on Arts Day at the City, and a steering committee member for ArtsVote Toronto.

With all that's going on at City Hall right now, it makes me so incredibly HAPPY to have good news to report on civic life in Toronto.

November 8, 2013 was the 4th Arts Day at the City: an initiative led by TAPA that brings members of the arts community to City Hall to champion our issues with Councillors. A tremendous amount of hard work, enthusiasm, and passion was put into this project by many people - both organizers, and supporters in the community like you.

It paid off.

I want you to know how successful your efforts have been:

  • This year, a record 29 Councillors took meetings with us, either on Arts Day or in the days preceding / following it.
  • There was a lot to celebrate - like Council's unanimous commitment to get our municipal arts funding up to $25 per capita by 2017.
  • There was a lot to report - including incredible growth in arts activities in wards all over the city (you can read the full Arts Day message here).
  • And we had a clear message for Council: commit to the second phase of funding promised for the 2014 budget.

And it's happening. An increase in funding in scheduled to be part of the 2014 budget (even budget chief Frank Di Giorgio said so!).

Volcano GM Meredith Potter, The Theatre Centre's Franco Boni,
and Susan Wright from the TAC with Councillor Di Giorgio

Students at the Randolph Academy
This is a HUGE victory for Toronto's arts community. It's a sign of how strong this community is, and how much we've improved our relationship with the municipal government. This kind of progress happens:

  • because of your participation and civic engagement.
  • because of those critics within our community who have challenged how we advocate for our interests time and again, demanding we step up our collective game.
  • because organizations like TAPA, TAC/F, Arts Etobicoke, Beautiful City, BfTO, East End Arts, Lakeshore Arts, North York Arts, Scarborough Arts, and Urban Arts rally for events like this.
  • because our colleagues at the provincial and national levels are working hard to do the same.
  • because of grassroots activity like Theatre Passe Muraille's ingenious EA Nights, which bring dozens of City staffers out to the theatre.
  • because people like you write to your reps in government and tell them what's important to voters.

High fives all around!

Tiny artists at Lakeshore Arts
I want to share this success with Volcano followers because, if you're at all like the people in our office, you're feeling frustrated and infuriated at the state of politics in Toronto. I must admit, the day before Arts Day was the most discouraged I've felt in the past three years of working on this project. You might remember November 7 as the date the Toronto Sun and Toronto Star released a second, awful video of Toronto's current mayor. I thought Arts Day - and everything we've all been working toward - would get lost in the chaos.

I was wrong.

Progress is possible regardless of how big the distractions are - we can see it happening right now. It's worth celebrating. And it's worth asking: what can we do next?

I don't believe change happens because of one person. One person can make a difference (or a lot of noise...), but change is a collective action. It's up to the community to decide that the status quo isn't good enough. 

So please keep it up! 2014 is an election year, and Arts Vote will definitely be a part of it. We hope you'll get involved (email me), and that you'll help us continue to champion the things that make Toronto a great place to live.


PS: want to feel good about your city? This might make you smile:

Sheridan Theatre Class of 2015

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