In the News May 16
Ontario Election 2022
Political Parties’ Arts Programs
The well-being of people in a society can be judged by many things and one is art and culture.
In January 2022, The Ontario Arts Council announced a one-time grant support for Indigenous artists and art organizations aimed at creating more opportunities and mitigating the effects of the pandemic on the arts community.
Jason Samilski, managing director of Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC) Ontario, said seeing the Ontario government’s commitment of $4 million to the program was good, but it needs to be on a permanent basis, not a one-time deal. “The arts sector is really in a terrible place right now,” said Samilski.
This grant announcement was made just months before the Ontario Provincial election to be held on June 2.
In 2018 the Ford government slashed base funding to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) by $5 million, and by more than $2 million to the Indigenous Culture Fund.
In 2019 the provincial government made further cuts to arts funding. “These cuts further erode Ontario’s arts and culture industry,” said Dave Bulmer, President of AMAPCEO which represents over 15,000 professional and supervisory public servants. “Since taking office, this government has axed $10 million from the OAC alone.”
The NDP website says, on arts and culture, “Ontario’s artists have largely been left out of our COVID-19 support. This comes after two years of arts funding cuts from which they were already struggling. Our local artists and art organizations contribute so much to our local culture, they deserve respect, recognition, and support.”
“Arts and culture organizations across Ontario have been hit extremely hard during this pandemic, with many struggling due to heavy revenue losses, making it incredibly difficult to pay the bills and retain staff,” NDP Culture critic, Jill Andrew (Toronto–St. Paul’s), said last June.
“Many live performers have been either excluded from or struggled to navigate the Ontario Small Business Support Grant Program, which has been riddled with issues and callous exclusions.”
Ontario Creates is an agency of the provincial government whose mandate is to “be a catalyst for economic development, investment and collaboration in Ontario’s creative industries.”
The agency facilitates tax credits for film companies — both U.S. and Canadian. But most Canadian films are low budget whereas the U.S. ones are big budget, thus taking more tax credit.
There is over $2 billion worth of U.S. film and TV production yearly in Ontario.
The Ontario Creates budget has not been cut and, in fact, got an increase in 2021 from Lisa MacLeod, the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.
Besides the cheap Canadian dollar Hollywood producers demand low fees from actors and crew — third Assistant Directors earn minimum wage. Ontario Creates provides a free digital locations database, fee waivers, discounted hotel and service packages, and even a dedicated production concierge service.
Federal Election Platforms
In September 2021 the Canadian Arts Coalition website published the Arts and Culture Platforms of the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP for the federal election .
The Conservative Party said they would:
– require large digital streaming services to reinvest a significant portion of their Canadian gross revenue into producing original Canadian programming.
– recognize and correct the adverse economic impact for creators and publishers from the uncompensated use of their works.
The Liberal Party said they would:
– reform the Broadcasting Act to ensure foreign web giants contribute to the creation and promotion of Canadian stories and music.
– implement a COVID-19 transitional support program to provide emergency relief to out-of-work artists, craftsmen, creators, and authors
– increase funding to the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm
The NDP said they would:
– modernize the Broadcasting Act to create a level playing field between Canadian broadcasters and foreign streaming services
– increase funding for CBC and Radio-Canada
– ensure that arts and cultural institutions receive stable, long-term funding to grow and promote Canada’s diverse cultures and histories.
The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), advocates policies that:
– celebrate our identity
– encourage audiovisual production in all genres
– build a stronger film, TV and new media industry
– expand work opportunities for Canadian performers
On February 1, this year, Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the launch of the Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund. This new temporary funding program will provide $60 million to help workers in the live performance sector who suffered during COVID-19.
Canadian artists live hand to mouth and rely on government funding that is scarcer and scarcer while the huge Hollywood movie machine is catered to. When we think of art and culture and how society needs it to reflect actual life, we see which culture is and which culture isn’t promoted.
Ontario Political Forum, posted May 16, 2022.