City pledges over $1.2 million in funding to support Black arts, business communities
Move comes weeks after motion to cut police budget and invest $150M in community programs fails
Mayor John Tory has announced an over $1.2 million funding investment in Toronto's Black arts community and business sector to address issues of systemic racism.
Tory laid out the details of the funding Friday, alongside Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson.
"I am proud to announce these new initiatives which directly impact our Black creative community and will help provide opportunities for Black artists in our city," Tory said in a statement.
"It is important that as a city we look at finding ways to address systemic racism within the services we provide. For many years, there has not been a focus on how we can deliver our services better and through a more equitable and inclusive lens. This announcement will change that by shifting our focus to address the gaps we are seeing in funding for the development of Black artists and the Black community."
According to a news release, moves the city will undertake this year include:
- Supporting key Black heritage organizations through the re-allocation of $300,000 in funding.
- Having Toronto history museums reopen with a "new programming philosophy of anti-oppressive practice, advocacy and storytelling," and to work with Black communities to "build room for self-reflection and accountability."
- Spending $300,000 to expand workforce development initiatives for Black youth in creative industries like film and television.
- Reallocating $300,000 to "support the career development of Black professionals in arts and culture."
- Providing $250,000 over five years, or $50,000 annually, to support the Black Innovation Fellowship offered by the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University.
"Through our Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit along with city divisions, we are identifying and supporting initiatives that help Toronto's Black residents, businesses, community organizations, and arts and heritage sectors to overcome systemic disadvantages and more fairly share in the city's success," Thompson said in a statement.
This move comes weeks after city council voted against a 10 per cent cut to the city's police budget that would then have been invested in other community programs. Such calls to defund police have been growing in cities across North America in the wake of widespread protests.
City staff confirmed that 10 per cent cut would have amounted to $150 million that could then be spent elsewhere.
That motion, brought forward by Coun. Josh Matlow and backed by Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, failed by a vote of eight to 16. Both Tory and Thompson voted against it.
Instead, councillors voted in favour of a series of reforms including the creation of a non-police response team for mental health calls and a mandate to require all officers to have body-worn cameras by 2021, a motion that was brought forth by the mayor.
With files from Nick Boisvert