Nfld. & Labrador

Mitchelmore noncommittal on increasing artist funding

Prominent figures like Rick Mercer and Petrina Bromley are calling for an increase in seed funding, but the minister isn't making any promises before the budget.

Campaign urges government to increase funding to $5 million by 2022

Culture Minister Christopher Mitchelmore told reporters on Thursday that artists will have to wait until the budget to learn if grants will increase. (CBC)

Prominent figures like Rick Mercer and Petrina Bromley are calling for an increase in seed funding for artists in the province, but the minister isn't making any promises before the budget is released next week.

The province currently funds Arts NL — a non-profit Crown corporation, which distributes the money to artists — to the tune of $1.9 million annually. There's a campaign to push the government to increase it to $5 million.

"The provincial budget will drop any day now," Mercer wrote in a Facebook post. "Artists in the province are asking the Government of NL to increase funding and lift us up to the national average."

The artists, along with NDP MHA Gerry Rogers, have said the number of requests for funding has increased in recent years, while the funding itself has decreased by about 1.5 per cent.

"In the past few weeks, government has made several funding announcements totaling hundreds of millions of dollars," Rogers said during question period on Thursday.

"Will the premier now join with our artists and commit to this modest request for one of the best investments this province can make for our people?"

Wait for the budget

On Thursday, Chris Mitchelmore, the minister responsible for arts and culture, would only say the answer will come when the 2019 budget is unveiled next week.

"We understand there's increasing demand that's taking place, but any decision that will be made on investment in the Arts Council of Newfoundland and Labrador would be a budgetary decision, and that budget would be coming down on Tuesday."

Actor and producer Amy House was at Confederation Building on Thursday, where questions were raised about arts funding. (CBC)

Actor and producer Amy House was at Confederation Building on Thursday, part of a small group of local artists in the public gallery for question period.

While Mitchelmore didn't commit anything, House said she was at least a little encouraged he didn't decline their requests.

"There's been no sign of a no yet, so he said we would probably find out on Tuesday during the budget," she said. "So we're all very hopeful and we'll be listening with ears to the ground on Tuesday for the budget."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Katie Breen

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