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Monday, 2 December 2013

Urgent issues facing Canadian artists

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Two pieces of news from government regarding the arts community are extremely troubling, and should concern us deeply. I propose some actions on our part - writing councillors, MPs and the new Minister of Culture. Here's what's troubling me:

1) The recommendation from Toronto city staff to renege on a promise to increase per capita arts funding in Toronto. The initial increase was made possible through the billboard tax - conceived and fought for by artists, for artists - and since then, council has committed to making enhanced arts funding part of their operating budgets moving forward. This is from the NOW Magazine piece:

"If council reneges on meeting the 2016 target it will be the third time the city has missed a deadline to increase arts funding to $25 per capita, a level seen as the standard a decade ago when it was reached by Montreal. In 2003, council endorsed a plan that set 2008 as the target, and once that was missed, approved another report in 2010 that set 2013 as the deadline. As Toronto has struggled, Montreal has increased its arts funding to $55 per capita."

This recommendation is not yet enacted. If we push back hard as a community, council will not pass it. But we must write our Councillors to let them know we care. Even a two-liner will suffice. I expressed fury to my Councillor. Find your City Councillor's email here.

2) Buddies in Bad Times has lost its Department of Canadian Heritage funding for the Rhubarb Festival with no explanation as to why. This stinks of an arbitrary measure coming from the conservative government. Of course, there is no proof of that, because the process is opaque. But that in itself is troubling. This is from the eloquent statement issued by Buddies:

"What is troubling this time is that we have not been given any clear indication as to why we no longer meet their criteria. This has left us surprised and confused. Why do we no longer meet the program's objective? We did not propose any significant shifts to the festival in our application. There has been no announced change in policies or priorities. The only source of new priorities that we can see at Canadian Heritage is the appointment of the new Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Honourable Shelly Glover."

Buddies has a right to know how and why Rhubarb suddenly no longer fulfills this objective, after 35 years. Please write to the Minister of Culture and cc your MP. Feel free to copy and paste from above.

Mister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages:
Find your MP here.


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