Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An Open Letter From Toronto Arts Council

This afternoon I received an open letter from Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director of the Toronto Arts Council, posted below in its entirety.

Dear Collaborative Piano Blog readers:

The next 6 weeks may be as critical a time for the arts in Toronto as we have seen in a very long time.

I’m counting on you to read this letter thoroughly and take action.

As you know, the City is facing a $575 million dollar shortfall in its 2008 budget. City Council must now identify drastic service cuts or significant new revenue sources to address the problem.

City Council’s July deferral of the vote to increase the land transfer tax and vehicle registration tax has brought the crisis to a head. These taxes were designed to bring in $375 million next year. To date, $100 million is currently being found through cuts to basic services such as TTC, libraries and community centres. Many more cuts are now ‘being identified” to be implemented if the new taxes are not approved on October 22.

In order to avoid wholesale cuts to city services and grants, there are two possible courses of action in the short term:
  • City Council supports the Mayor and passes the new tax tools at its vote on October 22.
  • The province agrees to pay for its share of the services it has previously downloaded onto the city (welfare, social housing, court costs etc.).
I am by nature an optimist. However, I am now alarmed. There is a very real possibility that funding for many programs, including the arts, will be drastically cut if City Councillors do not hear from you and your taxpaying audiences that our city includes the arts.

It is critical that we speak up for the value of the arts to the city at this time. By "we" I mean the entire arts community, its supporters and its audiences. You cannot afford to leave this discussion in the hands of others who do not share our values.

In order to get the public - our audiences, our consumers, our patrons and our supporters – to express their priorities for a liveable city that includes investment in the arts, as well as community centres, libraries and decent transportation, the Toronto Arts Coalition is spearheading an awareness campaign. Components will include a letter campaign to the public, news bulletins and mass emails.

What can YOU do?

Include a letter from someone in your organization (i.e. board chair, artist, artistic director) regarding the value of the arts in your upcoming programs, in your newsletters or on the wall of your gallery or auditorium. Have take-away letters ready. Below we have included a sample letter which you may personalize and amend as you like …

Encourage your audiences and supporters to join the Toronto Arts Coalition. The Coalition will send out automatic emails and updates to members and make it very easy to communicate directly with elected representatives.

Membership is free.

Forward Toronto Arts Coalition emails to your Board members, colleagues, and email lists.
Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have other suggestions, are willing to do more or want to discuss this. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly,

Claire Hopkinson
Executive Director
Toronto Arts Council


Dear company x supporter:

What do you value about Toronto?

This note from me, as (title, of organization name) to you, a Toronto arts supporter, is to alert you to the biggest crisis facing our city since amalgamation.

The papers have been overflowing with news of Toronto’s desperate financial state. In the next couple of months the city must either find significant new revenue sources or drastically reduce services.

As a Torontonian and an arts supporter, it is now time to make your voice heard.

If you believe, as I do, that city services, including investment in hundreds of arts organizations, are important – please join me:
Contact your city councillor (go to and let them know city services, especially the arts, are important to you.
Vote Toronto – ask for a commitment from your provincial candidate to put adequate funding of Toronto at the top of their agenda.
Join the Toronto Arts Coalition and find out more:
The reason that I support the arts in Toronto is that the quality and diversity of arts activities make the city one in which I want to live, and enrich my life every day. I also know that:
  • The arts are the creative engine which drives much of Toronto’s vibrancy and future economic growth.
  • The arts engage our youth offering opportunities for thousands of kids in at-risk neighbourhoods through programming in community centres, schools, libraries and parks.
  • Toronto is already trailing major North American cities in terms of arts funding: Vancouver, Montreal, New York, San Francisco and Chicago invest substantially more in their artists than does Toronto.
  • The culture sector in Toronto employs 100,000+ and contributed over $8 billion to the city’s GDP in 2001 (Deloitte).
  • Each $1 investment by Toronto Arts Council (TAC) to the city’s arts organizations attracts, on average, an additional $17 in revenue.
  • Arts events fuel restaurants, hotels, taxis – the entire tourism industry.
  • More Torontonians attend arts events than sporting events every year.
  • Toronto Arts Council’s entire budget costs each homeowner a mere $7 per year.
If you want to live in a city that refuses to close its community centres, shut its subway lines, limit access to skating rinks and reduce funding to its artists… let your political leaders know what you think.

Thank you.

Yours truly,

Organization name

We enjoy a wonderful quality of life here in Toronto. Part of that quality resides in the efforts and accomplishments of those in the culture sector. Since arriving in Toronto in 2002, I have felt the powerful creative drive and synergy that comes from working with open-minded artists that care about their work and the well-being of the entire community. Part of the financial assistance for this kind of community to exist comes from the foresight and generosity of the City of Toronto. I hope that I am not alone in my belief that the arts are an integral part of the city's fabric and urge everyone to take action.

Claire, thanks for your letter and please keep us informed of future developments.

No comments:

Post a Comment