One Month Later – How the 2012 Federal Budget Impacts the Arts

0 Posted by - May 2, 2012 - Features

With the release of the 2012 federal budget one month behind us you’ve likely captured the gist of the budget – cuts to the CBC and none to the Canada Council for the Arts. Here’s a full breakdown of how the cuts (and non cuts) affect arts and culture in Canada over the next three years, including an amalgamation of quotes and information from press releases and articles from cultural organizations over the last month. While some people indicated with a mix of relief and skepticism that the cuts were not as deep as they had anticipated, others called the cuts “draconian”.

The Overview

The budget saw no cuts to national museums, local museums or galleries, direct funding for artists, or Canada Council for the Arts. However Canadian Heritage will experience significant cuts resulting in a 10% (or $115 million) cut to the CBC, $9.6 million in cuts to Libraries and Archives of Canada, a $10.6 million cut to Telefilm Canada, and a $6.7 million cut to the National Film Board. The Heritage department itself will see 7.6% ($46.2 million) in cuts.

Cuts to CBC, Telefilm Canada, and the National Film Board will take place over three years.

Heritage   savings ($millions 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Heritage   department (internal) 17.8 42.2 46.2
CBC 27.8 69.6 115
CRTC 0 0.4 0.4
Library   and archives 3.5 6.6 9.6
National   Arts Centre 0.1 0.8 0.8
National   Film Board 0.1 3.3 6.7
Telefilm 2.7 6.0 10.6
National   Battlefields 0.1 3.3 6.7
Total   from Canadian Heritage* 52.2 130.7 191.1
*Totals   may not add due to rounding


What Was Saved

“The Canada Council for the Arts is enormously heartened by the positive message sent by the 2012 budget and the support of the government in recognizing the Council’s leadership role,” said Canada Council Board Chair Joseph L. Rotman in response to the 2012 budget. “This vote of confidence in the Council is a clear signal of support for the arts as the creative heart of the nation. This government and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Hon. James Moore, clearly appreciate the sector’s positive contribution to the economy and identity of this country. It makes it all the more important that we continue to demonstrate the highest possible standard in our investment of public funds.”

While the Canada Council is greatful, they are also using the opportunity with this funding to take actions that will generate savings and that can be reinvested back into the professional arts sector. “Over the next three years we will implement a number of changes that are already in development, including reducing the cost of our office space, streamlining operational processes, and adjusting programs,” says Director and CEO Robert Sirman. The Council will also review options that address its traditional commitment to the core of creative arts practice while reflecting areas of increasing priority, including equity, public engagement, and national and international market access, according to a press release issued after the budget landed.

Arts and Culture Industries Association (ACI) Manitoba, an organization working for a strong arts and culture sector in that prairie province, reports that groups receiving Canada Council funding have been asked to plan for scenarios of 5% and 10% reductions. ACI Executive Director, Thom Sparling, has indicated that it may take a few months before we figure out what the cuts really mean.

“No one is safe right now,” said Sparling in an ACI release. “There are all kinds of players who could be impacted. The question is when and by how much.”

National museums will also be spared cuts this round, including the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canadian Museum of Nature, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Science and Technology Museum, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

The government is adding additional support to the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Idemnification Program to help the largest museums and galleries in the country to reduce their insurance costs when they host major exhibitions. The Canadian Conference of the Arts has said “we can celebrate the fact that the budget has never contained such laudatory comments in regards to the heritage community.”

In the words of the budget:

Canadians are proud of their museums. Taken together, national and local museums in communities all across Canada are some of the best in the world. The Government created two new national museums: the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. Canadians value museums, the stories they tell, the collections they house, and the role they play in preserving culture. Because of this, Economic Action Plan 2012 will maintain funding for Canada’s national museums.”

In a recent interview with George Strombolopoulous, Heritage Canada Minister James Moore emphasized the importance of arts and culture to the Canadian economy. “Arts and culture is $46 billion in Canadian economy. The arts sector in Canada is 640,000 jobs in Canada. Three times the size of the insurance industry, twice Canada’s forest industry. And any government that says they want to build a strong economy without building a strong arts sector doesn’t have a plan for a strong economy.”

It’s this belief in the importance of the arts that kept the government from slashing funding to the Canada Council for the Arts, indicates Moore. Cuts, on the other hand, went to organizations that he felt had a strong enough coping mechanism to handle them. “The idea,” says Moore, “is to find savings that are responsible that don’t impact the core capacity of those organizations to deliver what those Canadians have come to expect.”

Cuts to Telefilm, NFB, CBC

While Moore believes that Telefilm, the NFB, and the CBC have the means to survive the cuts while still meeting their mandates, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists says that the budget has “mixed messages for culture.”

“It’s unfortunate to see the government take a hard line on cutting services when the economy is showing significant signs of recovery,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA National Director. “Culture isn’t just a feel good frill, it’s a creative industry that contributes more than $85 billion [Art Threat is aware of the discretion between Moore and Waddell’s estimates on arts impact on the economy] and hundreds of thousands of jobs to the economy. Clearly, we need to work harder to make sure that the officials presiding over these decisions understand that cultural industries are a key driver in Canada’s digital economy, generating much needed jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.”

Local Heritage critic Scott Simms see cause for concern in the pattern of the cuts. “I’ll be watching very carefully what happens with the Canadian Media Fund,” he said in an interview with the CBC, noting that the private sector is continuing to pressure Conservatives to cut funds which support Canadian programming.

The CBC’s annual funding will be cut by $115 million over three years. It represents 10% of the CBC’s annual $1.1 billion support from the federal government. With cuts starting this year, at a $27.8 million reduction in federal government funding, significant job losses and programming cuts are expected. In 2013-14 cuts will increase to $69.6 million, and will reach the $115 million savings mark in 2014-15.

The cuts “pale in comparison to the Cretien-Martin cuts,” (which ended in 2,400 layoffs at CBC in the 1990s), said Gregory Thomas from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in an interview with the National Post.

The cuts to the CBC represent, by far, the largest portion of the cuts to the heritage program over the next three years, and the deep cuts are a concern for CBC, who worry about the future viability of the broadcaster should cuts run deeper, forcing it to adjust its long-term strategic plan.

On April 11, the CBC announced the following cost cutting measures

  • The TV show Connect with Mark Kelly will be eliminated
  • The radio show Dispatches will be eliminated
  • There will be six fewer series on the CBC television network, meaning 175 fewer hours produced.
  • 650 positions in total will be cut throughout English and French language programming over the next three years.
  • $10 million will be cut from the budget and 88 jobs eliminated from CBC news
  • Documentaries will be reduced
  • South American and Africa bureaus will be closed
  • Live music recordings and drama programming on Radio One will be reduced
  • CBC Sports will take a $4 million hit, with Sports Weekend becoming seasonal and amateur sports programming reduced
  • Kids CBC will be reduced by four hours per week

Over at the National Film Board, Lily Robert, spokesperson for the NFB, indicated that the NFB stuck close to its mandate when choosing to make its cuts. “The job of the NFB is to produce innovative and distinctive films,” says Robert. “Though we made big cuts, we only reduced production budgets by 1%.”

Other cuts made by the NFB include:

  • Three to four fewer major projects per year, each with a budget of between $500,000 to $600,000
  • 73 jobs eliminated
  • Closure of Cinerobotheque in Montreal and Mediatheque in Toronto by September

“We’ve been in the process of shifting our business plan,” explained Cindy Witten, director-general of the NFB’s English program in an interview with the Globe and Mail. “Traditional models for one-off documentaries have been going down. And there never really was a business model for auteur animation.” The NFB will be aggressively pursuing new types of revenue to put back towards filmmaking.

Regardless of where the cuts have and haven’t happened this time around, a consistent message from the government has been that regardless of what funding has been previously received by an organization, there is no guarantee that they will continue to receive funding in the future. It also remains to be seen how the budget will affect self-employed workers and charitable organizations.

Photo of the National Gallery by Peter Blomert

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