The Canadian Arts Coalition is expressing disappointment with what it describes as a passing mention of the arts in the federal government’s budget.
“We felt like our sector, over the years of austerity, has taken cut after cut, and we were hopeful that this year, we might have a different result,” said Kate Cornell, a spokesperson for the Canadian Arts Coalition and the executive director of the Canadian Dance Assembly.
“So we’re just in general disappointed.”
Cornell noted coalition members met with more than 100 MPs during Arts Day on the Hill in October to advocate for a $35-million increase to the operating budget of the Canada Council for the Arts to support professional artists and arts organizations.
“We were hopeful that that would be in this budget,” said Cornell. “The arts are mentioned only in passing in this budget.”
The document tabled by Minister of Finance Joe Oliver today (April 21) does contain $110.5 million for the architectural renewal of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and $25 million over five years, beginning next year, in renewed funding for the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.
That facility’s venues include The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage, a theatre, dance, and performance art space.
The Conservative government is also allocating $210 million over four years to community events celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
“We are encouraged as a coalition to see that investment, but unfortunately it’s a little bit too late,” said Cornell. “We’ve been talking about funding Canada 150 for years now.”
She added that it’s unclear whether some of the funding for the celebrations will be allocated to professional artists.
Also in the budget is a proposed amendment to the Copyright Act to extend the protection of performances and sound recordings from 50 to 70 years.
The move was applauded by Music Canada, which noted that 70-year copyright terms have become the norm internationally.