Maybe 2012 will really bring dramatic changes to our lives. Many services will be cut, hundreds of people will lose their jobs, and a significant number of communities will be affected.
Mayor Rob Ford has recently imposed a 10% budget cut in 2012. According to CBC news, among those are $6-8 million in arts funding. Major cultural institutions, such as the Toronto International Film Festival, are among the many that will be affected by the cuts in art grants. According to Posted Toronto, city manager Joe Pennachetti is expected to suggest “shaving 10% off arts funding by cutting grants to big players, and eliminating all grants under $10 000 and any grant that represents 5% or less of an organization’s budget.” Poll results show that the majority ofTorontocitizens are opposed to his actions. Mayor Ford’s support has dropped dramatically from 57% on June 1 to 42% in early September.
Taking a step back and looking at the overall structure ofToronto’s economy, Ford’s actions may be understandable. We have a deficit of $750 million and a debt totalling $3 billion. Judging from previous financial crises, running a deficit may not be a good idea. Some European countries are now facing bankruptcy because their governments decided to ignore their shortfalls.
On the other hand, it seems to us that Ford has not prioritized the cuts properly, as he showed in a debate hosted by the Art Gallery of Ontario on September 30th. Rob Ford stated: “We’re $300 million behind in road repairs. Don’t you think it’s more important to have safe streets and roads fixed before funding stuff we can’t even afford?” There are certain merits to Ford’s ideas, but if repairing the majority of roads in Toronto is prioritized before arts funding, there is little chance that the arts will be supported.
Some people, like Ford, believe that art groups can support themselves through fundraising activities. But traditionally, classical arts, such as orchestras and operas, do depend on government support.
Cutting arts funding will shut down art organizations and affect Toronto’s reputation in the arts. Toronto has many renowned art programs, such as our world-class orchestra. Our status in the musical world will be tarnished if the government takes away funding for this program. It will also have a ripple effect on our life; art activities attract tourists from all over the world and boost our economy.
As students, we need arts to help push our boundaries of imagination. Not only can arts develop our thinking and communication skills, but also our ability to innovate. This, in many people’s belief, is a skill necessary for success in the present day work force.
At the current situation, managing our economy effectively and controlling our deficit is vital. But at the same time, we should support organizations and groups that are able to benefit us in the future. We believe that arts, as an integral part of our culture, should be kept alive and thriving in order for our city to flourish.