What does the new Liberal Government mean for arts and culture in Canada?

By Samantha Rodin, Visual Arts Editor, LaVaLab, visualarts@lavalab.ca

 

With the recent election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a majority Liberal government, we keep hearing about “real change.” But what does this mean for the arts and culture sector across the nation? Here is what was promised during the campaign on Trudeau’s website:
 
  • We will invest $150 million in new annual funding for CBC/Radio-Canada, a commitment that reverses Harper’s cuts and goes even further to ensure that our national broadcaster is able to fulfill its mandate – promoting Canadian culture, identity, bilingualism, and minority voices across the country.
  • We will double investment to the Canada Council for the Arts to $360 million per year from $180 million.
  • We will increase funding for Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board, with a new investment totalling $25 million per year.
  • We will restore the Promart and Trade Routes international cultural promotion programs that Harper cut, and increase funding to $25 milllion per year.
  • We will increase funding for the Young Canada Works program to help prepare the next generation of Canadians working in the heritage sector, as part of a renewed Youth Employment Strategy.
  • As part of our historic new investment in social infrastructure of nearly $6 billion over the next four years and almost $20 billion over ten years, we will invest significantly more in cultural infrastructure. These investments will include facilities used by communities to express and promote their culture.

 

Sounds like a dream … but will it come true? After the election, the new Minister of Canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly, said that she plans on delivering on this promise. If this is indeed the case, and based on Canada Council for the Arts’ new approach to funding programs, we will see an “explosion of indigenous art” due to “more resources for aboriginal artists,” as stated by Canada Council’s president, Simon Brault. Read more about this in the CBC article 'Explosion' of aboriginal art coming, says Canada Council president by Sandra Abma.

 

Over the last several years, cuts to arts and cultural funding programs have significantly impacted artists’ and arts organizations’ ability to produce and sustain practices and operations. This renewed investment in culture will not only provide more resources for more creative ventures, it will also inspire positive attitudes towards the value and importance of creative output and cultural expression in our country. 


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