Canadian arts advocates see little of note in 2013 federal budget
The 2013 federal budget contains no major surprises for the arts community as the government focuses on balancing the books in the coming years and proposes little new spending.
Finance minister Jim Flaherty did not mention the arts in his budget speech, delivered in the House of Commons today (March 21). Flaherty mainly detailed the government’s plans to strengthen the country’s financial position during tough economic times.
However, the budget documents do outline measures related to the arts, including a proposed change to part of the Canada Cultural Investment Fund. The plan is to adjust the rules around funding for arts groups through the fund’s endowment incentive program, which provides matching government grants for private-sector donations.
The change would increase the total amount of funding individual arts groups can receive over the time the endowment incentive program remains in existence to a maximum of $15 million from $10 million.
The budget also proposes $8 million toward fixing up the historic Massey Hall theatre in Toronto, and a renewed five-year commitment to the so-called Roadmap program aimed at promoting use of Canada’s two official languages.
The Canadian Arts Coalition, an advocacy group, said while the status-quo budget does not appear to contain any bad news for the cultural sector, major investment is still needed.
In particular, the group has called on the government to increase annual funding for the Canada Council for the Arts to $300 million from $181 million. The council is a federal agency that provides grants and other funding to arts groups.
The 2012 federal budget included no reductions to the council’s funding in the coming years and the Canadian Arts Coalition expects the government will continue with that commitment.
“When our government is ready to better leverage the potential of Canada’s creative economy through new and strategic investment in arts and culture, all Canadians will stand to benefit,” coalition spokesperson Shannon Litzenberger said in a statement today.
“We are an industry poised to lead the country in achieving its social and economic goals. As our economy recovers and stabilizes, we feel the time has come for renewed, consistent investment in the arts.”