Advocating for a fairer federal arts funding model

For years, artists, creatives and arts organizations have been telling us there are massive inequities in how federal arts funding is distributed. And they’re right. 

In fact, in 2023 alone, our region faced a $9.3 million federal funding shortfall when compared to regions like Montreal, Winnipeg, and Vancouver – because while those regions receive an average of $18.30 in federal funding per person, the arts in our region receive only $3.39 per person. More than a five-fold difference.  

While we are fortunate to be home to a spectacular range of artists and creatives who have shown incredible resilience in the face of this unfair funding model, experiences like the recent loss of the KW Symphony will only continue unless we move to address systemic barriers facing artists in our community. 

And there are solutions. Following consultations with local artists and arts organizations, my team and I are pushing for two specific actions from the federal government to ensure funds are distributed more fairly. 

First, we’re advocating for the federal government to restore the Canada Council for the Arts’ granting budget to 2021 levels. Second, we’re calling for the federal government to apply the Regional Development Agency model, one already used to distribute economic development funds more equitably across Canada, to this funding body. You can read more in my letter to Minister for Canadian Heritage.

While we often hear all the right words when it comes to how the arts are valued, artists and creatives in our community have long been underinvested in. With these two measures, the federal government could close this significant funding gap and better position our community to be one where artists and creatives can thrive.