Arts supporters from coast to coast to coast gathered in Ottawa on Tuesday October 23rd to meet with their Members of Parliament to discuss the key role that federal arts investment plays in the economic and social health of Canada. Building on four years of positive momentum, Arts Day 2012 saw 130 arts supporters meet with over 110 Members of Parliament, Ministers, Senators and senior officials from all parties.
Participants thanked the government for preserving investment in the Canada Council for the Arts in Budget 2012 and presented two key policy priorities for the upcoming year, as outlined in the coalition’s brief to the standing committee on finance:
- That the government renew investments in the Canada Funds that it announced in 2009 (Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, Canada Arts Presentation Fund, Canada Strategic Investment Fund and Canada Arts Training Fund). Of the $120 million or so that the government invests in these programs annually, nearly $80 million (or 2/3 of the total) is coming up for renewal and it is critical that this level of funding be renewed.
- That the Government of Canada maintain funding levels to the arts through the Canada Council for the Arts at $181 million in fiscal year 2013-2014.
Members of Parliament across all parties signalled their support for the Canadian Arts Coalition’s recommendations. Key meetings included Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage Paul Calandra, Official Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair, Liberal Leader Bob Rae, and senior officials at the Department of Finance. Although Heritage Minister, James Moore, was unable to attend, he expressed his appreciation of the Canadian Arts Coalition’s positive, non-partisan approach via Twitter.
“We are delighted that so many of our colleagues were able to make the trip to Ottawa in order to explain the importance of federal investment in the arts from the initial moment of creation until it is shared with an audience,” said coalition co-chair Katherine Carleton. “At just over $5 per capita, the federal government’s investment supports an industry that is bigger than forestry or banking, providing jobs to well over half a million Canadians.”
A full house came out for the closing reception hosted by Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin. “The recognition, celebration and advancement of Canada’s cultural sector is a fight we collectively choose to make our own,” said Comartin. “And so we salute you, the artists who strive daily to redeem the creative currency of a free society.”
Canadian actor Graham Abbey of The Border also spoke to participants. “It’s institutions like the Canada Council for the Arts that make sure that Canadian artists are still generating not only vital income for communities but equally, perhaps more importantly, maintaining that central cultural lifeline within and across those communities,” said Abbey.
The Canadian Arts Coalition is a collaborative non-partisan movement spearheaded by a group of national arts service and membership organizations. We are united in the belief that the future of our citizens, their towns and cities and the nation itself depends on a rich, vibrant and diverse arts and heritage community. Since its inception, the CAC has successfully lobbied for support for the arts through the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage.