How To Make a Deputation: A Message from the Toronto Arts Foundation


On November 28, the City Manager presented the 2012 Operating Budget to the City’s Budget Committee.  The proposed budget recommends a 10% cut to arts grants. If passed, city arts funding will be reduced by $1.94 million.

Clearly, this would affect Toronto’s cultural vitality and reduce or eliminate arts programming including performances, exhibitions, festivals, readings and events that are vital to Toronto residents and visitors.

To help encourage Toronto City Council to reverse this decision, Toronto Arts Foundation and Friends of the Arts Network are calling on all arts supporters to speak at the City’s Budget Committee.  Guide including information and messaging follows:

Public Deputation Guide – Budget Committee Meeting Dec 7, 8, 2011

Toronto’s Budget Committee will hear deputations from the public at its meeting taking place on December 7 and 8, next Wednesday and Thursday.  The meeting will be held at City Hall, beginning at 9:30 am and concluding at 9:30 pm both days. For those unable to attend in person, it is possible to send a written submission to Budget Committee,

Deadline to register to speak:  December 6, 4:00 p.m.

How to register:  Call 416-392-7340 or email  Give your name, address and phone and let them know you would like to speak at the Budget Committee meeting that begins on December 7.  Ask them to let you know your approximate number on the list which will give some indication of when you will be called.

How long is a deputation:  The usual public deputation speaking time is 5 minutes.  However, when the list of speakers is long, the committee can choose to reduce the speaking time.  We recommend you prepare a speech of 2.5 minutes.

Who Should Speak:  The most effective speakers are volunteers.   Volunteer board members, sponsors, donors, and local business owners make excellent speakers, as do those participating in programs.  Children and youth can be effective speakers.
NB:  the person whose name is on the register must attend, or you will lose your spot on the list.   However, if you sign up your own name and you’d like your board chair, or a program sponsor to speak, it is possible for both of you to go up to the podium.  You then introduce yourself, introduce the other speaker and share your time at the podium.  You will not be given extra time just because there is more than one person.

Who is Listening:  The Budget Committee is made up of 7 Councillors (Mike Del Grande, Chair, Michelle Berardinetti, Frank Di Giorgio, Doug Ford, Chin Lee, Peter Milczyn, John Parker). Other Councillors will likely be in attendance as guests.  Note that all these Councillors are spending very long hours listening to public concerns.

Effective Deputations:  Many Councillors are looking for public support to help them make tough decisions.  Essentially you want to offer them compelling reasons to do the right thing but not to critize them for the City Manager’s budget.  The most effective way to do this is to be respectful and offer positive stories and facts on the value of arts programming.  NB: Practice your remarks; make sure you can fit what you want to say into 3 minutes. If you have a talent – poetry, spoken word, storytelling – don’t hesitate to use it; Councillors respond well when the message is delivered creatively.

Arts Messaging for 2012 Budget:
Possible Messages (remember there will be lots of speakers; there is no need to cover all messages, select the one(s) that resonate with you):

  • The impact of a 10% cut – what programming will be reduced or eliminated; how will Toronto residents be affected by this cut.
  • Why 10% is more than 10% – ie. a cut of 10% can spiral into loss of even more funding if it prevents fundraising, reduces staff and financial capacity or means fewer programs leading to reduced sponsorship or government support etc.
  • How this cut will affect local businesses (restaurants, arts supply stores etc)
  • Toronto’s arts organizations raise $17.75 from other sources for every $1 invested by Toronto.  This cut to grants will lead directly to a loss of $25 million to Toronto – this will have a significant impact on jobs, tourism and economic development
  • On November 29, Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby presented a Friends of the Arts petition signed by over 20,000 Torontonians living in every ward of the city, requesting City Council to maintain its support of arts funding.
  • Toronto City Council voted unanimously in May 2011 to approve Creative Capital Gains which recommends increasing (not decreasing) arts funding to $25 per capita.  The proposed budget reduces Toronto’s arts investment to just $17 per capita, much lower than all our competitive cities (Chicago at $26, New York at $74, Montreal at well over $30).
  • On November 23 the European Commission proposed spending $2.4 Billion as part of a  Pan-European goal to stimulate the economy through cultural enterprise.  As other economies invest even more in culture, Toronto will fall further behind.

For more arts benefits and funding impacts go to Toronto Arts Foundation’s Advocacy page.
Key Dates:
December 7 and 8; 9:30 am to 9:30 pm: Budget Committee Public Deputations
January 9: Budget Committee Final Wrap Up
January 17: City Council Approval of Operating and Capital Budgets

Thank you for your participation.

If you have questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email or contact Susan Wright at 416-392-6802 x211.

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