Bridge Funding Update

Bridge Funding Update

On July 31, City Council approved a $2M one-time investment in Calgary’s Arts Cornerstone Companies in response to a business case and a report presented to the Priorities and Finance Committee on July 18.

“We see this as a sign that City Council recognizes the value of the arts in building a great city,” says Patti Pon, President and CEO of Calgary Arts Development. “This bridge funding will help stabilize the Cornerstones as they adapt and transition to a new normal that includes decreased contributed revenues and the development of new models of revenue diversification.”

Calgary Arts Development collected data from across Canada in 2016, which confirmed that municipal arts granting in Calgary is among the lowest in Canada at $6.50 per capita.

Why the Cornerstones?

Over the years, contributed revenue has made up 38% of Calgary’s Arts Cornerstones’ budgets, a much higher percentage than anywhere else in Canada, which helped make up for the small municipal investment. Due to the economic downturn, this is no longer the case with contributed revenue down by 30%.

Calgary’s Cornerstone Companies receive on average only 3.5% of their operating budgets from municipal arts grants compared to an average of 8% received by their peers across Canada.

Based on this percentage of operating budgets, at 3.5% Cornerstones are at the lowest level of all the categories invested in by Calgary Arts Development. Community Organizations receive on average 6% of their operating budgets from Calgary Arts Development; Professional Organizations receive 9% on average; and Festivals receive 10% on average. Over the years there have been some incremental increases to Calgary Arts Development’s granting programs in most categories, but Cornerstones have been frozen for the past eight years.

Because Cornerstones also attract the largest audiences of all the categories, generate the greatest economic output, and hire the largest number of people, they were a good candidate for an Economic Development Investment Fund created by The City to help ensure job retention and vibrancy in the downtown core.

This one-time investment in our Cornerstone Companies is a good start, but it is bridge funding, not a long-term solution. Calgary Arts Development and City Administration are working together to continue to make the case for sustainable funding for the entire sector as part of the Cultural Plan. It is our intention to present a case for a transformational investment for the arts sector during the next four-year budget cycle with a newly elected City Council some time in 2018. We will keep you informed of this work.

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