Days after The City of St. John’s announced it would cut funding to The Arts by 50%, a large demonstration amassed outside of City Hall, to protest the poor call our elected officials had made. The outcry was so loud and hard and widespread and well-reasoned that today, at the first council meeting of the new year, city council reversed its decision.
The Arts uniquely contribute to our culture, and help diversity and strengthen our economy. Arts Grants are not handouts to artists, they’re investments in an industry that makes more money than it takes in the form of grants. To read more on the matter, read our previous article: You Don’t Slash a Nationally Renowned Arts Industry That Is Making Money to Compensate for One That Isn’t
While it’s certainly great news council moved to reinstate arts grants to their previous levels, of $200,000, that’s a per capita investment significantly lower than comparable cities, and they did not reinstate the $20,000 for art procurement, but, now isn’t the time for whining.
So where’d the $100,000 magically come from, to reinstate funding in full to The Arts? “A funding source from within the existing Community Grants Funding Program, normally held in reserve for opportunities that present themselves outside of the annual application process.”
Mayor O’Keefe addressed December’s outcry today by saying, “There has been concern expressed by both the artistic and business communities, as well as by residents in general, that this reduction in some way represent[ed] a devaluing of arts and culture by this Council, which could not be further from the truth.” He cited operating the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation “as a crafts incubator” and hiring local bands to perform at ongoing musical series in parks as examples.