Federal Budget 2017 Promises More Funding for Arts and Culture

The Government of Canada released the federal budget for 2017 on Wednesday. The budget promises $1.8 billion for cultural and recreational infrastructure over 10 years starting in 2018–19, on top of the $1.9 billion over five years allocated in the 2016 budget. 

Of the $1.8 billion, $300 million will be invested in the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, and used to construct, renovate and better equip creative spaces and hubs. The Arts Advocate reported that this is an additional investment to the existing $30 million/year base, bringing the total investment to a $60 million annual base going forward for ten years from 2018/19.

The Canadian Arts Coalition thanked the federal government for investing in the arts, and stated that the increase in funding bears the potential for significant growth in the arts sector, both societally and economically. Kate Cornell, Co-Chair of the Canadian Arts Coalition noted that this is a "stay-the-course kind of budget", with few surprises in comparison to the 2016 budget's weighty investments in cultural institutions. 

In a post detailing 8 arts-related points to bring away from the federal budget, the Canadian Art Foundation praised the added funding for the Young Canada Works program, which will see an increase of 1,600 new jobs for youth between 2016 and 2019, many in museums and art galleries; as well as the increase to the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, which will support needed developments for cultural infrastructure. 

They warned that many of the promised investments won't actually be made until a few years later down the road, calling the budget one of "delayed decision-making". And with few concrete details released about what the money will be spent on, more funding might not translate into stability for the arts sector. Anne Bertrand of the Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference raised concerns that "a lot of emphasis is being put on skill development for the jobs of tomorrow... but very little support and maintenance for what is there already.”

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