This arrived today in my inbox from the Toronto Arts Foundation:
"Toronto City Council is planning to make deep cuts to the city budget, and this puts arts and cultural funding at serious risk. Cutting the arts could be an economic and social catastrophe for Toronto: not only does the city achieve a huge return on a relatively small investment, but our vibrant arts scene is also a big part of what makes Toronto a great place to live, work and visit. By signing the petition your members will be sending a message to the Mayor and their local councillors telling them that arts funding should not be cut."
What they say is true. We're in a very tight financial spot here in Toronto. Budget cuts are coming, everything is being scrutinized, and savings are being sought in every department, including the arts. It could be an unpleasant few months for many people in many jobs across this city.
I'm a bit cynical about petitions in general, and online petitions especially - similar to those coloured underwear Facebook status updates of a while back purportedly in support of cancer research, they're just a bit too easy to do, without actually doing anything. That said, I'll be signing the petition, and hope that you will too. Here's the petition.
However, I thought I would offer a few more concrete ways to show your support for the arts.
- Contact your local councillor. A personal phone call, letter or email to your local councillor shows that you care enough about the arts to make the effort to get in touch. Tell them how you feel, and why, and remind them that there will be another election soon enough...
- Go see some live art. Make your way to a concert, art gallery, play, club, dance performance...by being in the audience, you not only show that you support the arts - you help provide vital revenues (box office, or art sales, etc.) for the artists involved.
- Donate to the arts. If you're in a financial position to donate to a local arts organization, do. Every arts organization has a responsibility to show a diversified revenue base, so when you make a donation (or attend a live event) you're helping them to do so. Most arts organizations (including Toronto Downtown Jazz) are charitable organizations, so can issue a tax receipt for your donation; many are set up for online donations through Canada Helps.
- Vote carefully. The provincial election is coming soon - October 6th. Make sure you know where your candidates stand on support for the arts, and make sure they know where you stand. And then be sure to vote.
There are many other ways to show your support for the arts; feel free to share your ideas by leaving a comment. Let's make sure that, whether by petitions or attendance or donations, the importance of the arts to this city and its residents is clear.
To take an active role in spreading the word about the value of the arts, consider volunteering for your local arts organization or email [email protected] and put volunteer in the subject line.