Our Work Is Never Quite Done

Arts Advocacy Committee meeting last week, emails back and forth about arts funding, links posted and reposted and reminded, so of course I was all set to write an impassioned post this morning about how in terms of that 4 million in arts funding? We ain’t there yet.
Then I was on Facebook and found someone had already written one. And since I am a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel when the wheel has been invented well – I’m posting Emma’s note in full below. Read it. It’s good. If you don’t get something, it has links.
Well spoken Ms. Emma. Talk soon.
Get Arts Funding Passed
by Emma Mackenzie Hillier (Notes) on Monday, 25 March 2013 at 11:36

Hi friends,

So remember when we found out that City Council was going to approve an extra $4,000,000 to their arts budget and we all did a happy dance? We can’t quite finish doing the Snoopie until April 3 when city council will finally vote. I don’t know about you… but in my opinion it’s our job to let our councillors and mayor know that this extra funding is crucial. I mean.. I’d love it if Theatre Projects suddenly had an extra $50,000 grand to throw to companies… like my own.

Uh oh… but wait… I can hear the self-defeatists now: “But Emma… to do that would take work and I prefer to spend all my energy on creating work… except for when I’m on facebook procrastinating because art is hard to make. Administrative Work, Emma, it would take Work!!”

Yes… yes it would… if I hadn’t drafted a letter that you can copy and paste and send along to your city councillor (whose email can be found by clicking on this link http://app.toronto.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp).

Oh, wait… I hear another voice: “But Emma… I don’t really know anything about arts funding and how it benefits the sector in Toronto! How can I write and say I support something I don’t know enough about?”

Ah, well, my friend, simply click on this link: http://www.torontoartscouncil.org/ARTS-FACTS/Impact, read up, and maybe snoop around some more on the Toronto Arts Council’s website. There’s some useful stuff in there. Remember… an uninformed artist is an ignorant one (at least in my books). Know your shit, people. Otherwise how can you create for any community but the one in your own head?

So… all in all… it should take less time to fill out the letter below and send it to your city counillor than it did to read this note. Happy Arts Activism! You just did your good deed for the day… and your civic duty… two birds, one stone.

Dear [insert councillor],

I want to take a minute to thank you for your hard work on city council. As a member of your ward, who reads your regular newsletter, I want to let you know that I appreciate what you do for the members of your ward when you represent us to the city.

I’m writing to ask for your support of Recommendation ED20.5 at the vote on April 3, 2013. The arts sector is a vibrant part of our community and as an [insert title here] who works within the theatre industry I know first-hand how crucial additional funding is to the sector’s growth. The extra revenue, delivered to the Toronto Arts Council and then on to artists, will impact the capacity of theatre companies and individual artists to create work that speaks to the vibrant and diverse culture in Toronto.

I’m sure you’re aware of the reports and statistics that have been released on the impacts of arts funding, but to reiterate a few of the highlights:

Grants allocated by Toronto Arts Council directly support:

Creativity:

  • On average 900 new works of art are created annually with support from TAC.

Economy:

  • 15,000 artistic and administrative staff are paid by TAC funded organizations
  • $40,000,000 is generated annually in ticket sales
  • For every $1 granted to an arts organization by TAC, $14.95 is received from other levels of government, the private sector or earned revenue

Arts Access:

  • 15,000 performances, exhibitions, events are presented annually
  • 7.5 million people including 1.5 million children and youth attend TAC supported events annually

The impact on Toronto’s neighbourhoods and communities of increased arts funding includes:

  • creation of a more beautiful city
  • promotion of understanding between cultures
  • provision of opportunities for at-risk youth
  • attraction of business
  • increase of citizen engagement
  • support for underserviced neighbourhoods
  • increase of tourism
  • reduction of crime
  • increase of volunteerism
  • improvement of the economy
  • creation of community pride
  • increase in community organizational capacity

Toronto has lagged behind the rest of country in its arts funding; this increase was recommended 10 years ago. I’m so excited to see that there has been such progress towards the goal and I hope that you will aid in its passing. Speaking as a member of the arts and [insert Ward here] community I can attest to the passion, drive, and personal impact the work of our artists has on the Toronto community. Please support Recommendation ED20.5 and increase funding for this vital sector.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully,

 

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