5 Million for ArtsNL in 2021
Hello Internet, today is March 14th and I’ve just written several letters to the leaders of our provincial government. Some dedicated artists I know are leading the Newfoundland and Labrador arts community in an organized campaign to increase funding to ArtsNL – our provincial arm’s length funding body – by $3 million over the course of the next 3 years. Currently, ArtsNL operates on a budget of just over $2 million, and it’s been that way for years, which means the real value of grants available to artists has been dropping. Here is one of the letters I have written. If you are inspired to participate in the campaign, check out this page on Facebook.
Dear Premier Ball,
I am writing to request that you and your government seriously consider a reinvestment in this province’s arm’s-length arts funder, ArtsNL. I respectfully request that this government reprioritize the arts and the artists of this province by increasing the budget of ArtsNL by $3 million over the next three years.
It has been seven years since ArtsNL last received an increase, even to match the rate of inflation. Since then, and bound by the increased cost of living, the arts council has been forced to decrease funding available to artists. ArtsNL is the third-lowest arts council in the country, despite a rich and vibrant arts community that punches above its weight on a national and international scale.
The arts community of Newfoundland and Labrador continues to grow and to explore new artistic arenas, exporting this province’s unique and everchanging culture to the rest of the country and the world. Newfoundland and Labrador artists’ work is the source material for tourism campaigns, and, more vitally, it improves the quality of life for residents of this great province. It has been shown that theatre-goers, for instance, are more likely to vote and to volunteer within their communities. Doctors have recently begun to prescribe visits to art galleries to their patients. There is a direct line to be drawn between a healthy arts industry and a healthy society, and I ask that you invest in this link: the people of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve a rich, vibrant, healthy arts community.
In recognition of the prevailing social good of the arts, other jurisdictions have seen fit to increase their arts councils, even in times of financial crisis. The government of British Columbia recently announced an increase of $15 million over three years. The Toronto Arts Council is now receiving an increase of $17.5 million over four years. The arts-makers of this province can no longer survive the stagnation of ArtsNL’s budget. Without a meaningful increase, we will begin to see the death of artistic organizations in this province, and the collapse – or relocation – of promising artistic careers.
An investment of an additional $3 million over the next three years will make a real, tangible difference to the stability of artists and arts organizations in this province, and will make possible the continued growth of the important arts industry for all residents and visitors of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Independent storyteller, writer and theatre maker