The Advocate’s Tool Kit: 2016 pre-budget consultation

No Money No Art, SP38, 2013; Photo: Anne Bertrand

What riding is your centre located in? Have you started thinking about our new government’s promise to double the budget of the Canada Council for the Arts? Here’s a copy of the letter sent to my MP asking he support the proposal to double the Canada Council’s budget to $ 360 million by 2017.

This toolkit has been developed by adapting materials and strategies produced by the volunteers of the Canadian Arts Coalition for the 2014 Arts Day on the Hill. Arca will update this resource as soon as the topic for this year’s pre-budget committee hearings is announced. Members of the artist-run community will then be encouraged, once again, to meet with their MPs to convey the message that the Canada Council is ready as of this year to receive new funds, and to vote for an increase to their budget. It may help to remind politicians that the cultural platform of the Liberal government reflected the recommendations and messages articulated by the Canadian Arts Coalitions for the 2015 federal budget (see 1st recommendation below). The more MPs are informed about the importance of investing in the arts – and more specifically for the artist-run centre infrastructure – the more likely we are to see the promised increase to Council’s budget.

Once again, Arca thanks the Coalition’s volunteers for developing and sharing their advocacy material in the past, and for making the community’s messages heard during the election campaign.

You can get involved by:

  • Meeting with your MP;
  • Sending him or her a message using social media;
  • Inviting him or her to an event in your centre.


  1. Find your MP using your postal code;
  2. Consult the House of Commons calendar to learn when your MP is present in your riding;
  3. Watch the training videos presented by Coalition volunteer Melissa Grueber of CARFAC, ;
  4. Book a meeting with your MP – Model letter;
  5. Print meeting script;
  6. Adapt and print two documents (in Word Format) to leave-behind at the meeting: 1) an introduction to artist-run centres produced by ARCA and 2) an information leaflet produced by the Coalition.

The meeting script is from last year’s consultation. This year’s recommendation is to support the promise to double Council’s budget to 360M$, as per The Canadian Arts Coalition’s recommendations from previous years. This is the recommendation that most directly affects artist-run centres:

Recommendation One: Double the Canada Council for the Arts’ Parliamentary appropriation to $360 million over the next 2 years.


Since 1990, the number of arts organizations supported by the Canada Council has increased by 65% – a response to the growing and diversifying engagement in creative and cultural experiences by Canadians across the country. Based on Census data, the arts sector has grown from 101,605 professional artists in 1990 to 155,500 professional artists in 2011. The Parliamentary appropriation to the Canada Council needs to reflect this significant industry expansion, helping it to remain sustainable while serving a growing, more diverse Canadian population.

Since 2007, the Canada Council’s Parliamentary appropriation has essentially flat-lined. In fact, per capita spending is slightly below 1990 levels at $5.34 per capita in 2010, down from $5.57 per capita in 1990[1]. With a balanced federal budget in sight, it is time to ensure that the Canada Council is able to affirm its historic commitment to providing Canadians with affordable access to diverse cultural experiences, while catalyzing local and regional economic growth through increased engagement in the arts.

The federal government has recognized the essential role of the Canada Council for the Arts on several occasions. It is known as a well respected, efficiently run, federal agency that contributes to sustaining the work of artists, arts organizations and cultural infrastructure across Canada. Most recently in Budget 2014, the federal government made permanent a $ 25 million contribution to the Council’s parliamentary appropriation that had previously been renewed on an annual basis. This is a promising step, and one that was well received by the Canadian Arts Coalition.

ARCA makes this information available to the community as a way to promote and nurture a culture of advocacy in artist-run centres as advocacy – delivering core messages with a strong, united voice – is one of the few known ways to help grow the proverbial pie.

[1] Canada Council for the Arts. Strengthening Connections: Strategic Plan 2011-2016. October 2010.