It will definitely mean there will be program cuts at Canadian Heritage, but it'll be a few months before we figure that out.
—Thom Sparling, Executive Director of ACI
Arts groups were on pins and needles as federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered a deficit-cutting budget in the House of Commons on Thursday, March 29. But, the cuts are not as deep as some feared.
Most arts organizations and festivals in Manitoba receive funding from the Canada Council and Canadian Heritage. Groups receiving Canada Council funding had been asked to plan for scenarios of 5 per cent and 10 per cent reductions.
In the end, the Canada Council was spared. The council plans to generate savings independently in order to redirect funds back into the professional arts sector.
Over the next three years the council will implement cuts internally in areas of office space, operations processes and programs.
"It's good news for every arts organization and artist in the country," says Shawna Dempsey, co-executive director of MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women's Art). As a small arts organization in Winnipeg, it relies strongly on Canada Council funding.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, under construction in Winnipeg, is scheduled to open in 2014. (humanrightsmuseum.ca)
The National Museums Program will also not be cut.
Angela Cassie, Director of Communications and External Relations at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
, confirmed the museum would not be negatively impacted. "We're pleased the government continues to support Canada's national museums including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The government is a fundamental partner in establishing this museum."
However, other organizations did not fare as well. Telefilm Canada
, the National Film Board
and CBC will all be cut by 10 per cent over three years.
"So it's bad news for the film and television sector," says Thom Sparling. He is Executive Director of Arts & Cultural Industries Association
(ACI), an organization dedicated to training, infrastructure development and sustainability in Manitoba's arts and cultural sector.
"Canadian Heritage, though, is the question mark," Sparling added.
The department has been cut by 7.4 per cent, or $46.2 million.
"Nobody really knows how that's going to play out. It will definitely mean there will be program cuts at Canadian Heritage, but it'll be a few months before we figure that out."
Most of the festivals receive core funding from Heritage, including the International Children's Festival
Artistic Director Neal Rempel, is disappointed with the decision.
"It's a struggle enough for arts organizations to come up with the funds every year. It's disheartening when the federal government executes cuts like this. They're sending the message that they don't support the arts and especially arts for young audiences."
It could be mixed news for The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra
. The WSO depends on grants from the Canada
Council for regular programming, but the New Music Festival, Indigenous Festival and
outreach programs are funded by Canadian Heritage.
"No one is safe right now," concludes Sparling. "There are all kinds of players who could be impacted. The question is who and when and by how much."