Budget announcement from Canada: Canadian Govt invests $1.9 CAD Billion in Arts and Culture

On March 22, the new Canadian Govt brought down its budget. During his campaign Prime Minister Trudeau had promised to double funding to the Canada Council for the Arts. And that’s just what he did. Sort of. It will be doubled over a period of four years. But hey! let’s not quibble. This is a wonderful example of a government with some vision and understanding of the value of the arts and more broadly cultural production, to the whole community.  And please note the FINANCE Minister says:

“Culture is synonymous with creation. It also creates a collective wealth that goes beyond economic benefits and statistics,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in his budget speech.

Here’s a snippet of  from Canadian Art news.

$40 Million More for Canada Council

The federal budget released today offers $40 million in new funding to the Canada Council (on top of its previous $180 million allotment) in the upcoming year.

 “Culture is synonymous with creation. It also creates a collective wealth that goes beyond economic benefits and statistics,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in his budget speech.

This brings total annual Canada Council funding for the coming year to $220 million—a 20% surge, but $140 million short of the original fall promise of $360 million.

However, the budget plan promises that funding for the Canada Council will increase each year over the next five years—with $75 million in additional funding to come next year, and $115 million more the year after that. The doubling of the Council budget to $360 million under this plan is scheduled to happen in 2020–2021.

Representatives from the Canadian Arts Coalition, the Canadian Museums Association, the Artist Run Centres and Collectives Conference, and CARFAC all expressed optimism at the new Council funding.

“Visual artists in Canada contribute greatly to the economy and our cultural identity, yet more than half subsist on less than $18,000/year,” read a statement from CARFAC. “Providing for more federal grants through the Canada Council for the Arts will have a significant and positive effect on artists’ incomes and the sustainability of their lives.”

Promises on Art Abroad, But Needs on Artist-Run Home Front Too

The Artist Run Centres and Collectives Conference (ARCA), for instance, released a post-budget statement to the effect that it wants to see the new money at the Canada Council distributed to address gaps in current funding for artist-run centres.

“ARCA is optimistic that this [Canada Council] investment will make up for years of stagnation in the funding of artistic organizations, including artist-run centres (ARCs),” the statement read.

“ARCA sincerely hopes Council will work in close collaboration with arts service organizations for the implementation of the new funding model and consider increases to multi-year core funding to organizations a priority. It’s worth recalling that only 10% of the $146 million in public funding received by visual arts organizations goes to artist-run centres,” the statement continued.