Canadian artists participate in fifth lobby day to advocate for investment in arts
It’s time we put the age-old stereotype that Ottawa is the city that fun forgot to rest. Sure we’re a government city, but that has its benefits, as was witnessed by the Canadian Arts Coalition (CAC) on Oct. 25 when they had their fifth Arts Day on Parliament Hill.
The call for Arts Day on the Hill was a public one, with support from art lovers flowing in through social media. The reception was held in the East Block building, and the event hosted up to 160 arts advocates that came in from across the country to speak to Members of Parliament about the necessity of their work and to lobby for a raise in public funding.
“We were overjoyed and overwhelmed by the response of the arts community who were absolutely eager to speak with MPs in 2016,” said Kate Cornell, co-chair of the CAC. For her, “artists are absolutely essential of defining who we are as Canadians.”
“I believe that artists reflect our society back to us on our stages in their works of art and we need artists to help us be better Canadians,” said Cornell.
The CAC, which is made up of various national arts groups, describes itself as a non-partisan collaborative movement, dedicated to advocating for the arts in Canada. It came together in 2005 to lobby for more public funding from the federal government, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Canada Council for the Arts in 2007.
Cornell explained that “the original focal point of Arts Day was to ask for increased funding for the Canada Council. It has evolved since then but it really has been about the Canada Council.”
Arts Day has been held every few years since then, and this year Cornell said that the gathering carried a different purpose.
“This version of Arts Day was primarily to say thank you for (the federal) budget 2016, which included a commitment to double the operating budget of the Canada Council by 2021.”
The 2016 federal budget includes $1.87 billion in arts funding. Cornell went on to share that this has been especially exciting year, since the doubling of the Canada Council budget has been one of the CAC’s main requests since its inception.
“In terms of expectations and results, we’re absolutely thrilled with the show of force and the appreciation that was shown by the MPs for the arts and culture sector,” she said. “We felt heard. I think this government understands the essential role of the arts and we look forward to continued conversations with these MPs and this government.”