More than 30 organizations from coast to coast are also calling for “no cutbacks in culture” ahead of a round of government cuts
MONTREAL, SEPTEMBER 27, 2023 — More than 30 Canadian associations representing presenters, mainly show programmers and festival organizers, are joining forces to speak out against the situation at Canadian Heritage, whereby the two major programs that benefit their members are no longer sufficient to meet current needs. They are appealing directly to the Minister of Finance for reinvestment, even before a $15B round of cutbacks compounds existing problems. They are calling for a substantial reinvestment, and today are putting forward some of the facts and figures that give them great cause for concern:
- The base budgets for two important Canadian Heritage programs that support the presentation of shows and festivals, Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage (BCAH) and the Canada Arts Presentation Fund (CAPF), have not been reviewed since 2007. Funding for these programs totals $50.2M, and currently supports more than 1,500 organizations;
- To mitigate issues of oversubscription and underfunding for both programs, the government provided $15M per year in 2019-2020, but for two years only. These temporary funds have been renewed – three times for BCAH – but that is not even enough to maintain grants received at pre-pandemic funding levels, due in part to a 12% increase in the number of clients;
- Clients who received more than $100,000 from BCAH before the pandemic have received a maximum of $61,700 in 2023-2024, i.e. often 40% less than in the 2010s, and this downward trend is only gaining momentum;
- The CAPF situation is particularly alarming. Even with the temporary increase granted in 2019, the program’s budget has already reached a 20-year low in constant dollars (i.e. adjusted for inflation). Worse still, this one-off increase has not been renewed beyond 2023–2024. This form of “programmed compression” raises concerns among CAPF clients, who will face cuts averaging 23% starting next spring;
- The sector is asking for greater predictability and increased funding. A return to 2007-2008 funding levels is inconceivable;
- The President of the Treasury Board has asked all federal departments to collectively identify $15B in cutbacks by October 2, and this could have a devastating impact on the programs at issue here.
These two key programs support over 1,500 clients, large and small, in every province and territory. For these organizations, the current situation is jeopardizing their ability to keep culture alive, to support artists and artisans, to balance their budgets, all while generating cultural, social and economic benefits for their communities.
To help remedy the situation, the associations united under the #FutureOfLIVE umbrella are calling on the Minister of Finance to intervene quickly. They are once again proposing various reinvestment solutions to the federal government:
- They are asking that the one-off funds added since 2019 be permanently integrated into the base budgets of both programs. Performing arts organizations shouldn’t have to advocate year after year for the same funding extensions. Touring and presenting requires predictable funding ;
- According to the associations, a real and historic catch-up is required, not marginal adjustments. They are requesting an increase of $21M to the CAPF and $9M to BCAH, in addition to the temporary funds extended on a piecemeal basis since 2019. These investments would represent a 37% increase (in constant dollars) compared to the programs’ initial funding bases, at the time when they were first created and rolled out. As a reminder, the Liberal government corrected underfunding at CBC/Radio-Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts back in 2015, but did not do the same for Canadian Heritage programs that support performing arts presentation.
So far, the federal government has not responded to the sector’s requests, although it is fully aware of the issues, having been regularly informed by associations and, since last fall, by some 25 Members of Parliament who wrote letters on the subject to the relevant ministers.
The list of associations that support the #FutureOfLIVE campaign and that have issued this press release can be found here.
Source: #FutureOfLIVE and participating associations
Info: Sandra Rossi, Marelle Communications