Yesterday at City Hall, the Executive Committee of City of Toronto voted not to cut the 2012 arts grants budget.
The motion, put forward by Councillor Peter Milczyn, states “that City Council reverse the reduction to the CPIP Budget Envelope of $1.9 million for Arts and Culture Grants, the funds to be drawn from additional assessment growth revenues.” City Council is expected to approve this motion at its special budget meeting beginning on January 17.
The decision by Executive to protect arts funding from impending cuts was arrived at in response to thousands of Toronto residents voicing their opposition to the cuts. Councillors Michael Thompson, Jaye Robinson, Peter Milczyn and Gary Crawford worked very hard within the Ford administration to defend the importance of arts funding. Councillors Anna Bailão, Shelley Carroll, John Filion, and Mary Fragedakis, who join Gary Crawford as City appointed Directors of the Board of Toronto Arts Council (TAC), also provided critical behind-the-scenes support. Councillor Mike Layton offered very strong community leadership with his support of the Friends of the Arts Network. The network now includes over 20,000 Toronto residents, many of whom have contacted their local Councillors to defend the importance of arts funding. Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director of Toronto Arts Council, said “In addition to the support of so many Councillors who championed this move to protect the arts, I am grateful for the efficient work accomplished by the Mayors Arts Task Force in such a short time. Equally important was the strategic groundwork laid by Culture Division in developing the Creative Capital Gains Report and in helping to launch the Municipal Cultural Investment in Five Large Canadian Cities Report. The research provided by these publications reveals and clarifies the critical role the arts play in the economic fabric of the city.”
“I was encouraged by Councillor Milczyn’s remarks,” said Toronto Arts Foundation Chair, Susan Crocker. “He made clear that this administration now considers itself a strong supporter of the arts and is willing to defend the value of arts grants despite significant cuts elsewhere.”
The City Budget for 2012 with the amendments made on January 12 will be put forward for a final vote by City Council on January 17th.
To learn more about recent arts advocacy efforts, please visit http://www.torontoartsfoundation.org/Our-Programs/Advocacy
Dewi Minden, Toronto Arts Council