New Study on Municipal Funding for the Arts

January 10, 2012- Toronto falls far behind large Canadian cities in municipal arts investment

Hill Strategies Research released a report today, Municipal Cultural Investment in Five Large Canadian Cities, comparing funding in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Investment by Toronto City Council ranks lowest by a wide margin -
per capita investment in each city is, from highest to lowest:

  • Montreal: $55
  • Vancouver: $47
  • Calgary: $42
  • Ottawa: $28
  • Toronto: $19

“Throughout major international cultural centres, municipal arts funding is key to maintaining a thriving creative city, attractive to residents and tourists alike. We are at the tipping point; this study clearly demonstrates that Toronto risks losing its position as Canada’s go-to city for arts and culture.” noted Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director of Toronto Arts Council. 

The impact of cultural investment is felt throughout Toronto’s economy, much of which is dependent upon a vibrant arts sector. The arts and culture industry contributes $9 billion to Toronto’s local economy and supports 130,000 jobs. 

In May 2011, Toronto City Council affirmed the critical importance of arts and culture funding when it unanimously endorsed the Creative Capital Gains report. The report recommends increasing Toronto’s arts funding to $25 per capita.

In contradiction of this unanimous decision, the 2012 City Operating Budget, approved by Budget Committee yesterday, recommends a reduction in Toronto’s arts and culture grants by $2 million and additional reductions to the city’s department of Economic Development and Culture. Given that every dollar invested by the city in grants to arts organizations in Toronto leverages an additional $17 in funding from other sources this will have the direct effect of reducing investment in Toronto by $25 million.

“It is hard to exaggerate the impact of such a cut. Of course artists and arts organizations will be affected, but so too will every Toronto resident who benefits from access to arts programming as well as Toronto’s tourism industry, its restaurants, hotels, taxis and retail sectors” said John McKellar, Chair of Toronto Arts Council. 

Toronto’s Executive Committee, chaired by the Mayor, will review the Budget Committee’s recommended budget on Thursday, January 12, following which it will go to the full City Council on January 17 for final approval.