Arts Organizations Tentatively Optimistic in Wake of 2015 Federal Budget

By Jillian Groening
  • Kate Cornell with James Moore on Arts Day on the Hill, October 2014

Most every government decision involving taxpayer money is met with frustration, doubt and debate. The 2015 federal budget is no different. Announced on April 21, 2015 by Finance Minister Joe Oliver, the pre-election budget failed to address certain aspects of life in Canada. The arts was one of them.

“The Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA) is disappointed by the most recent federal budget,” CDA Executive Director Kate Cornell tells The Dance Current. “There is a lack of mention of the Canada Council for the Arts.”

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s national, arm’s-length arts funding agency, which supports, promotes and celebrates the arts. It is an integral force that aids artists, facilitates creation and brings participation in the arts to all areas of the country. Many jobs in the cultural sector are supported by the Canada Council’s programs and according to a media release from the Canadian Arts Coalition (CAC), the number of arts organizations supported by the Canada Council has increased by sixty-five percent since 1990.

“This lack of investment in the Canada Council for the Arts reflects a short-sightedness on the part of the government,” Cornell, who also acts as spokesperson for the CAC, states in a media release.

Cornell took a very active role prioritizing the Canada Council this past year by taking part in pre-budget consultations with the Finance Minister in November 2014, advocating with members of Parliament  and participating in Arts Day on the Hill in October 2014.

“We worked really hard to make sure that the federal government was aware of our desire to increase the operating budget of the Canada Council,” Cornell says. “We will continue on that track as we start the process for next year’s budget.”

Although the federal budget is balanced, with a projected surplus of $1.4 billion this year and increasing to $4.8 billion in 2019-2020, the federal contingency fund will be decreasing. Acutely aware of the upcoming federal election, the Conservative budget focuses heavily on security, tax cuts for families and seniors, and fostering innovation in the Canadian automotive industry. Other sectors neglected in the budget were the environment and Aboriginal Affairs.

One highlight of the 2015 federal budget is the $210 million allocated over four years toward activities and events surrounding Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

Despite the lack of increased funding for the arts in the 2015 federal budget, Cornell remains hopeful.

“We are certainly happy to see that there weren’t any cuts,” Cornell explains. “So we’re disappointed, but also encouraged by the funding for Canada’s 150th because that money is certainly focused on the arts.”~

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