News Release

Presentation related to the City of Ottawa 2015 Budget
February 24, 2015

City of Ottawa Protective and Community Services Committee on February 19, 2015

Co-Presenters: Peter Honeywell, Executive Director, Ottawa Arts Council
                           Victoria Steele, Executive Director, AOE Arts Council

Our local Arts Councils have been working with Ottawa’s arts community for over 30 years to build a vibrant and sustainable sector. As bilingual non-profit organizations, we represent a combined membership of over 650 individual artists and arts organizations from all arts disciplines at all levels of practice located in all parts of the City.

We serve the community by creating opportunities for artists, by celebrating the City’s artists, providing promotional, professional development and shared resources and by collaborating with numerous partners on key important city-wide initiatives.  

We would like to thank for the previous City Council for their unanimous support of the City’s 6 Year Renewed Action Plan for Arts, Heritage & Culture. This plan will enter its third year of implementation in 2015.  We strongly endorse this planning model that is consistent with the Mayor’s desire for the City to move toward multi-year planning throughout the city’s departments.   As we reach the mid-point of the Arts plan, we look forward to working with members of City Council and Staff to ensure that the plan remains on track. The community invested considerable effort to build a course of action to address cultural priorities.

The Arts Plan was initiated with several critical cultural capital infrastructure projects as a focus. Much has being accomplished in the past two years, and construction is about to begin on the Arts Court expansion, a new home for the Ottawa Art Gallery and the reconstruction of La Nouvelle Scène. 

These capital investments are timely and essential. The Mayor has repeatedly reminded us that ultimately it is the creativity and innovation of artists and arts companies who make the magic happen.  On the operational side, according to the City’s approved Arts Plan, the peer-reviewed Cultural Funding Program in 2013 supported the work of 309 arts, heritage and festival activities.    Some examples of this are:

  • Tara Luz Danse, Blues in the Schools, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra – who in addition to their professional presentations work within the Ottawa school systems to engage youth
  • The Ottawa Fringe Festival and OYP Theatre School –provide training programs for youth and adults and work with the independent theatre community
  • MIFO, VOX Théatre, Voix Visuelle  - work specifically with Francophone artists
  • SAW Video – provides training labs and professional development opportunities for media artists and SAW Gallery hosts over 30,000 participants per year in multi-disciplinary activities
  • And new initiatives such as John Bartlett’s Megaphono who are working to develop Ottawa’s music industry

The City’s research shows that direct funding to arts organizations is the most cost-effective way to ensure the delivery of quality cultural activities.   Studies completed between 2006 and 2010 show the powerful leveraging of municipal funding investments – one dollar leverages between $6 and $12 from the private sector and other levels of public funding.  

We are pleased to see that the 2015 Budget provides for an inflationary increase for Cultural grants. As we meet the mid-way point of the City’s Art’s Plan, there remains much to be accomplished.   Many planned initiatives for 2014 have been postponed.   

2015 is a pivotal year to continue investment in the Culture Plan and build on the enthusiasm that the community demonstrated as we embarked on this venture in 2012. We have numerous cultural and tourism opportunities that can be offered as we approach Ottawa’s  2017 Celebrations.  And, now is the time to invest if we are to present the best that Ottawa has to offer.  The arts community hopes that, as the Mayor has said, 2017 will offer a year of legacy building investment for Ottawa and not just a great party. We know our community would like to see more opportunities for people to discover the arts in this diverse region, one that is in many ways a microcosm of Canada.  

We are confident that your 2015 Budget deliberations will be respectful, reflective and forward thinking. In the months to come, City Council will be identifying the Key Priorities and Strategic Initiatives for the full term of Council.  We look forward to working with you to ensure that implementation of the Cultural Plan will be among those Priorities.

Thank you, merci.

Peter Honeywell, Executive Director, Ottawa Arts Council and Victoria Steele, Executive Director, AOE Arts Council.