The Arts Advocate Update
28 March 2018
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa tabled a pre-election budget focused on “fairness, caring and opportunity”. It builds on recent announcements like free childcare for children 2 ½ to 4 years of age, new mental health initiatives and healthcare spending.
New programs related to the Ontario cultural sector are more limited. The big winners are libraries.
- Libraries will see an increase in provincial operating grants by $51 million over three years. In addition, $28 million will be invested, again over three years, to create a provincial Digital Public Library. This is the first increase in operating to libraries since the 1990s and is considered a significant investment.
Expenses for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport are projected to be $1,514.2 million next year, 2018-19, down from $1,568.1million in 2017-18.
- The reduction is due to the completion of Ontario 150 and the annual adjustments around tax credits. There are no program cuts. (More details will become available through the Spending Estimates which will become available shortly.)
The Budget Plan discusses the benefits of community hubs in several places and points to provincial cultural infrastructure investment to support many of them. Examples cited are the Shaw Festival, the Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Ancaster Arts Centre. The Province has also nominated the Massey Hall Revitalization project for federal funding under the Building Canada Fund*. No numbers are provided.
The Budget Papers note that Ontario’s film and television industry is a key economic driver. It acknowledges the importance of maintaining and adding to the inventory of infrastructure and studio capacity and promises to “work with the screen-based industries to explore opportunities for growth.”
On the taxation front:
- There will be changes to the Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit to extend its eligibility to film and television websites purchased or licensed by a broadcaster and embedded in the broadcaster’s website. This measure was announced to the industry last December.
- The Budget papers note that the Province will provide the City of Toronto with the authority to provide property tax reductions of up to 50% to qualifying facilities that offer affordable spaces for the arts and cultural sector (i.e. 401 Richmond, Toronto).
Last year’s Budget night announcement of funding for the Ontario Arts Council may provide a precedent that there could be additional cultural sector announcements outside the scope of today’s Budget speech.
For a copy of the Ontario Budget, please go here.
For a pdf of this Update please go here.
We always welcome your comments. Please do not hesitate to get in touch!
The Arts Advocate Report
* The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall is a client of TAA principal Micheline McKay