On September 14, 2012 the 19 professional arts and cultural organizations (music, dance, theatre, film and visual arts) who are members of the Greater Halifax Arts Coalition wrote to the 64 candidates standing for election to Municipal Council on October 20.

We asked all candidates to help us get to know them better by sending us their campaign materials, quoting and highlighting their plans to help create the programs, policy, and funding needed for a healthy and vibrant arts and cultural community.

Specifically, we sent candidates some information about us:

  1. Every year our 19 companies spend more than $22 million, mostly within the Halifax Regional Municipality.
  2. We perform for more than 900,000 people every year, of all ages, from all walks of life, and in communities throughout the region.
  3. We employ more than 900 full time and part time people, most of them full-time residents.
  4. We attract investment — including more than $3 million in corporate support and more than $5.5 million from other levels of government.
  5. Any way you look at it, the work we do is good for our economy, and helps Halifax to have a diverse and vibrant core surrounded by active and engaged communities.

We also shared a study commissioned by the City of Hamilton that compares the arts funding programs in municipalities across the country.

To give you more information on why this is such a high priority, the graph below shows how our municipal arts programs compare with those of other Canadian cities, on a per capita basis.

A graph showing how Halifax funding compares.

Read the entire report here:  City of Hamilton Strategic Municipal Investment in the Arts

Did you know our municipal funding for arts and culture is less than 10% the national average of $5.71 per person?  For more details read the report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.  Specific recommendations on how HRM Arts and Culture policies can help foster authentic, attractive communities starts on page 43.

Finally, we asked candidates to tell us their thoughts on the issues and priorities we had shared with the previous Mayor and Council:

  1. Implement a meaningful funding program for professional arts organizations.
  2. Develop and implement a cultural facilities plan.
  3. Benchmark the region’s cultural investment against other municipalities in Canada.

Does Halifax measure up?  To read how our municipality currently understands the impact of arts and culture read the Greater Halifax Partnership’s Halifax Index: An economic gut check with insights for action.  Arts and Cultural measures start on page 63, part of the report on Quality of Place.  For example, did you know this?

“Employment in arts, culture and recreation has increased by 21% since 2006. This was higher than the national average at 17% and the second highest increase among benchmark cities. Over 7,600 people work in arts, culture and recreation in Halifax, ranked fourth among benchmark cities.”  2012 The Halifax Index, page 63.

We heard back from over a third of the candidates, representing all the Districts except two (4 and 11).  We are now sharing their responses, as promised, with our many members, volunteers, patrons, and supporters by email, social media.  Please share and forward to your friends as well, and encourage them to talk to their candidates, attend the All Candidates Debate on October 15 (8:30 am at the Delta Halifax), and to vote on October 20.

Please click on the following pages to read what we heard back from your candidates.  

When you meet with the Mayor or Members of Council, please thank them, congratulation, and remind them of their commitments, and why you voted for them.  Ask them to please attend, donate what they can, advocate for us, and to support favorable motions that come to council.

18 Comments

  1. Andrew David Terris

    Reply

    As a veteran of many municipal, provincial, and federal campaigns to put the arts on the electoral agenda, I applaud your well organized efforts in this municipal campaign. However, I am troubled by the narrow focus of your organization … almost all performing arts organizations, and, despite your claim, no one from the visual arts. Hence your emphasis on professional organizations and a facilities plan. These are worthy goals, but they are also insufficient. You’ve forgotten that the arts are driven by primary creators, the individual artists, and they appear to be absent from your stated priorities.

  2. Leah Hamilton

    Reply

    Thanks to all of you for adding to the public dialogue on the arts. Any effort to bring arts and creative economy issues into this campaign should be commended. The Hamilton study is pretty impactful (and totally depressing) and seems to really resonate. Well done!
    Here’s to a more positive and forward thinking City council!

  3. Reply

    Seems like there should be more Visual Arts organizations involved with this coalition. All the organizations but one, Dal art gallery, are ticket-selling. How can an organization like The Khyber become involved?

  4. Pat Brennan

    Reply

    Please use a darker font colour! Aging eyes still want to read!
    This is a great initiative–I didn’t know how low Halifax’es committment to the arts was and I wasn’t aware just how much the arts contribute in terms of $$. Thanks very much for putting this out.

  5. Reply

    We need our municipal council to fully embrace and support the belief’s expressed on the NS Communities, Culture and Heritage website. “Nova Scotia has always been a place rich in culture and heritage. Participate in one of the many artistic events in our communities and see our creativity shine… It’s easy to feel pride in where we live when we see our stories expressed to the world.
    Our culture and heritage contribute much to our quality of life. They enrich our communities and benefit our economy. By investing in these sectors, we realize their tremendous value for Nova Scotians. The culture sector is estimated to have an economic impact of almost $1.2 billion in Nova Scotia with 28,000 jobs directly or indirectly related to culture activities. It is a key driver of the creative economy that is shaping the future here and globally”.

  6. David Williams

    Reply

    Is this a dues paying organization ? So loose an organization as “Rimmington’s Left Bank Poets” and “Open Heart Forgery” guerilla poetry journal would like to be a part

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