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Ontario's Draft Cultural Strategy
TAKE ACTION: Ontario's Draft Cultural Strategy

The Ontario government is in the process of developing its first Culture Strategy setting out a vision for arts and culture in the Province.

The draft Strategy was recently released and focuses almost exclusively on the film, television and music industries, and community involvement.

The issue: The professional ARTIST is barely mentioned in the draft Strategy.

Also overlooked is the live performance sector. We are not the only sector left out of the discussion. Visual arts, museums, writing and publishing, and fashion are also omitted. The background paper for the draft Strategy does not even recognize live performance as a core "pillar" of the Ontario cultural industries sector.

Disappointingly, the importance of arts in the school curriculum is also absent. In an era of greater cooperation between ministries, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport have much common ground, which goes unaddressed.

The draft Strategy focus on community engagement comes at the expense of urgent action to address the precarious nature of professional artistic practice. While there are elements worth supporting, the Strategy does not deliver for Equity members.

But it is not too late! Equity members resident in Ontario still have time to tell the Government to revise its Strategy. The deadline is in one week: Friday, May 13, 2016.

Equity needs you to tell the Government to prioritize the value of the performing arts and of professional Artists' contributions to the artistic and economic health of Ontario.

What Equity is doing: The Association will make a formal response to the draft Strategy identifying our serious concerns. We encourage all members to respond and share with their friends and colleagues.

What you can do: Don't delay - email today. Please make sure to copy on your email.

Here are template wording options to add to your responses (just cut and paste into your email):

  • The Government's vision for culture in Ontario does not prioritize the needs of professional Artists. These Artists must be at the core of the Strategy or the culture sector in Ontario will not strengthen and grow.
  • The live performing sector is an essential industry within the cultural economy of Ontario and contributes to the social fabric and quality of life for all citizens. Please make sure it is given its deserved place within the Strategy.
  • Arts education in schools results in more economically successful and socially conscious citizens. Ontario must take the necessary steps to embrace the positive impact that the arts can have on young children by significantly increasing the number of arts specialists in every elementary classroom.
  • The supporting background paper recognizes that Artists are at the core of the arts sector. It also correctly identifies that "typically highly educated, artists earn about 30% less than the average Ontario worker. On average, Ontario artists earned $34,900 from all sources in 2011. Half of all Ontario artists earned $23,200 or less." The draft Strategy makes no mention of how to fix this income disparity. How will the Ontario government tackle critical financial issues facing the professional Artist?

Here are some statistics that you can add to your email:

  • Direct Ontario consumer spending on cultural goods and services was $11 billion in 2008. This includes $600 million in spending by Ontarians on live performing arts.
  • 73% of Ontarians 15 years or older (8 million people) attended a performing arts event or a cultural festival in 2010.
  • After adjusting for inflation, Ontario residents' spending on cultural goods and services grew by 35% between 1997 and 2008, the second-highest increase of all 10 provinces.
  • The highest increase in spending among the cultural categories was art works and events (including performances), which rose by 61% between 1997 and 2008.
  • Ontario has the highest proportion of elementary schools where music is taught by general classroom teachers with no music background (58%). In contrast, three regions of the country have a very large percentage of elementary schools with a specialist music teacher: Quebec (87%), the Atlantic Provinces (86%), and British Columbia (83%).

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