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Staff propose direct arts & culture funding

To P&D Sept. 5, 1pm

City staff are proposing the creation of an arts and culture funding program to directly assist Burlington artists and cultural groups.

Individuals and groups located in Burlington (non-profit, charitable, multicultural or arts “collectives” with a minimum of three people) can apply each year for up to a $5,000 maximum grant. Twenty percent of the grant will be held back until receipt of a final report on how the money was spent and the impact on the community.

Applications will be assessed on artistic merit; program merit & strategic initiative; city-wide & community impact; and economic impact. These include such considerations as level of public access to and interest in the program; outreach to new and diverse communities; offering is unique and innovative; partnerships and ability to raise funds and other support outside the funding program; program delivered primarily in Burlington for our residents; and provides employment or training opportunities for Burlington artists, cultural workers and contractors, as well as spending and tourism in Burlington.

Applications will be reviewed in part by a peer assessed jury, chosen by the new citizen-led Arts & Culture Council of Burlington (ACCOB). Jury members will have to declare any direct or indirect involvement in cultural applications to avoid conflict of interest in the selection. Final funding decisions will be by staff.

No additional budget funding will be required. The city already transfers $50,000 per year to the Cultural Initiatives Reserve Fund. That amount will be transferred annually from the reserve to the Arts & Cultural Operating Budget to administer the program. City Council will receive an annual report of the successful applicants, as well as the number of unsuccessful applicants and the total amount of funds requested and disbursed.

As part of the proposal, the Cultural Action Plan Implementation Committee (CAPIC) of city staff and community stakeholders will be disbanded, having completed 80% of its recommendations, and the balance substantially complete with the implementation of the fund.

The most significant item not completed that may require attention in the future is recommendation number 37: “Provide ongoing base budget funding through the City’s annual current budget in order to provide an administrative office space within a City of Burlington owned facility for the external organization, including office furnishings and office equipment (not staff).”
ACCOB intends to be the primary organization engaging artists and the cultural community; the city will work with ACCOB to determine their needs.

The proposal goes to the Planning & Development Committee Sept. 5, 1pm, City Hall for discussion, then to City Council, 6:30pm Sept. 11 for a final decision. Residents can Register as a Delegation online to speak for 10 minutes at committee, 5 at council, or by email at or phone 905-335-7600, ext. 7481. Meetings are live webcast, and archived on the city website following the links to the agenda below.

Read the staff report: Arts and Culture Funding Program and Cultural Action Plan

Read program terms: Burlington Arts & Culture Funding Program

Visit the full P&D Agenda here: P&D Sept. 5

My Take: I have long advocated funding people rather than buildings and administration (like an office). Providing direct funds to artists will allow us to get the most bang for the buck for residents and the cultural sector, and to leverage existing resources in the community rather than duplicating efforts. I’m grateful to ACCOB stepping up to provide leadership and partnering with the city.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

What's your take?