February 28, 2013 - In January, 2013, Toronto City Council approved a $17.5 million budget increase for arts funding over 4 years, with the first $6 million to be allocated in 2013. This decision marks a turning point for the arts in Toronto, and many deserve our thanks for their help with moving this critical agenda forward. The City’s Economic Development Committee is meeting on March 5 to allocate the first $6 million among various grants and programs.
The recommendation in the report before the committee is that $4 million of the new funding go to TAC’s grants program.
This increased investment in the arts will have a far-reaching impact on TAC, Toronto’s artists and the city. A $4 million increase this year will give TAC the ability to begin to address funding inequities amongst currently funded organizations while also providing new support for culturally diverse arts organizations, emerging arts groups and community engaged arts projects with a focus on the inner suburbs and youth. Additional funding increases over the next three years will allow TAC to develop new programs and assist with our goal of increasing accessibility to the arts throughout the entire city.
Many in the arts community want to know - what happens next?
Toronto Arts Council is recommending the following community action:
1) First of all – the allocation of the new funding still has to be approved, first at Economic Development Committee on March 5 and then at City Council on April 3. While full support is expected at both meetings, members of the arts community are encouraged to call or email their local Councillor to thank them for their support and let them know you are in favour of these recommendations. All are also welcome to join TAC Director and CEO, Claire Hopkinson, at the Economic Development Committee meeting in Committee Room 1, Toronto City Hall at 9:30 am on March 5.
2) Please read TAC’s Priorities for New Funding document as well as the full Visioning Document, both located on the Publications page of the website. In 2009, in response to the potential for increased funding as well as to the City’s changing demographics and arts practices, TAC hosted a series of public consultations, undertook a visioning exercise and developed a new plan. This plan will serve as a basic outline, providing overall direction while still leaving opportunity for specific new initiatives and programs.
3) Note that TAC expects to receive additional funding increases over the next three years. This means that in 2013 TAC will focus on those priorities that can be implemented quickly, while new programs and initiatives will be developed over the next months and year.
4) All are invited to attend upcoming community consultations (dates to be announced). Working with Beautifulcity.ca, TAC will host community consultation sessions to identify and target immediate needs and to develop longer term programs and goals.
5) Spread the word – TAC will be working closely with arts organizations active in all city neighbourhoods as well as with City Councillors from all 44 wards to make sure that the city’s artists are aware that 2013 is a great time to apply for a grant from TAC. We will make more staff resources available to assist applicants with the granting process as well as more outreach into the wider community. It is important for us all that this new funding makes a big impact.
Toronto Arts Council thanks the many who have worked with dedication over the years to encourage City Council to increase its support for arts grants. Each phone call, email and letter to a Councillor, each meeting attended in support of arts grants, added to the momentum and gave City Councillors from all sides of the political spectrum the strength to commit to Toronto’s arts community.