In June, The Arts Advocate and its partners are presenting Reframing the cultural policy dialogue. Why now? Why is this important?
Canada’s $50 billion cultural sector is one of the strongest, most diverse in the world. In Ontario alone, the cultural sector contributes $22 billion to provincial GDP. It creates jobs, accounting for 671,000 jobs across the country, or in Ontario, 4.2% of total employment.
Our sector has a significant impact on our country’s overall well-being. Cultural decision-makers like Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover and Ontario Culture Minister Michael Coteau acknowledge these contributions. The reality remains though that the cultural sector still doesn’t have a seat at the table where the big decisions are made. This was evident in both the federal and provincial budgets released last week: mention of arts, heritage and creative industries was minimal and buried in these key policy documents.We know though that public sector support from all levels of government is a critical element in the cultural sector’s success. A complex, but disparate, set of policy tools and spending programs provide an important part of the foundation for Canada’s arts, heritage and creative enterprises. Direct grants, tax expenditures and regulations impact and contribute to the success of all parts of the cultural sector.
The ideas and principles that drive these policies derive from the middle of the last century. Adapted and updated through incremental steps and decisions – a reality that is characteristic of governments of all partisan stripes – the policy tools and levers that support Ontario and Canada’s cultural infrastructure are, for the most part, all sound on their own merit. But overall, cultural policy has become like a room with too many layers of wall-paper: things aren’t quite hanging together as well as they could and it’s in need of some investment.
The time is ripe to address the cultural policy framework in Canada in meaningful ways:
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has mandated Ontario’s new Culture Minister, the Honourable Michael Coteau, to work with stakeholders to build on the Entertainment and Creative Cluster strategy and develop an Arts Policy Framework. Further, she called upon him to work with Ontario artists, educators and communities to develop an Ontario Culture Strategy. Consultations are expected to begin soon.
Federally, all parties are considering election platforms and their approach to 2017, an opportune time to advance the cultural policy agenda.
Reframing the Cultural Policy Dialogue will provide participants – on line and in person – an opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussion to explore the opportunities and options for the cultural sector to engage with government more effectively.
We invite you to join the conversation.