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ACI ADVOCATES ON BEHALF OF ARTS COUNCIL AT PROVINCIAL PRE-BUDGET CONSULTATIONS

February 22, 2010

The Association of Cultural Industries (ACI) Executive Director George Murray made a presentation to Minister of Finance Tom Marshall during pre-budget consultations held February 17 in St. John’s.

As an advocate for the professional cultural producers and organizations of Newfoundland and Labrador, ACI strongly believes it is time to start re-investing in the culture sector. Without a new strategic blueprint to follow the successful, ACI-researched Creative Newfoundland and Labrador: A Blueprint for the Development and Investment In Culture document, a three-year that ended in 2009, the best way to ensure the continued health and growth of the sector is to invest directly in the professional artists and artistic organizations of the province through the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (NLAC).

“The government is surely aware that culture sector investment is as important and timely as other kinds of infrastructure investment,” said George Murray. “When the oil runs out it will be our culture, heritage, and natural beauty that continue to drive our economy. Culture in Newfoundland and Labrador is an infinitely renewable resource, but we will always need to nurture and guard it closely to see it continue to flourish as a viable economic venture.”

A summary of ACI’s submission to the pre-budget consultation is copied below.

Summary

  • NLAC has the third lowest funding of an arts council, per capita, in Canada (at $4 per person, with MB, SK, AL, and PQ all at over $8; only PEI and NB are lower than NL)
  • The NLAC saw a 20% increase in solid project applications in the last grant period of 2009, but there was only $250,000 of funding available, with an ask of $1,000,000
  • This highlights the problems of a sector that is a victim of its own success
  • The growth and increased professionalization of the arts and culture sector over the last five years is attributable in part to the Williams government’s unprecedented investment (through the Creative Blueprint document of 2006-2009)
  • Momentum from this investment carried the increased development of the sector beyond 2009, but if no new investment comes this year, the culture sector is in danger experiencing an atrophy in not only growth and income, but offerings as well
  • Therefore, if there is one thing this budget can do to help the arts and culture sector this year, it is to increase the budget of the NLAC
  • ACI’s recommendation is to double the NLAC’s budget over the next three years, from $2,000,000 to $4,000,000 (per capita investment of $8)

Reasons to Support the Culture Sector

Nationally:

  • 82% of culture sector is knowledge-based (with 83% of workers nationally holding at least one post-secondary degree, compared to 62% of total labour force)
  • The culture sector accounts for over 3% of Canadian GDP, over $20 billion in annual sales, $20 billion in annual services, and $1.8 billion in exported goods
  • Cultural exports are growing at 15% annually
  • Since 1991, the cultural workforce has grown twice as fast as the general labour force (26% compared to 13%)
  • The culture sector employs 700,000 nationally and is growing at rate of 1% per annum

Provincially:

  • Culture is a key recruitment tool for bringing skilled labour and tourists to the province
  • The culture sector in NL is worth $400,000,000 annually
  • Phase 1 of Creative Newfoundland and Labrador created good national press for provincial government and goodwill from NL population
  • Creative Newfoundland and Labrador investments yielded not only more cultural enterprise, but helped professionalize the sector
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