The city’s arts and culture grant spending has grown in recent years, but less than anticipated
In 2015, the City of Ottawa provided $9.3 million in grants and financial contributions to arts and culture organizations and individuals, which works out to $9.70 per capita. These grants are made through numerous programs covering a broad range of activities, including productions by amateur and professional artists, museum programs and festivals. Ottawa follows the common practice of peer assessment in the grant allocation process.
Year over year, between 2012 and 2015, the amount granted has increased, with the total growth over three years amounting to 6.9%, equivalent to an increase of 5% per capita. The relatively significant increase between 2013 and 2104 is attributable to Ottawa’s Renewed Action Plan for Arts, Heritage and Culture in Ottawa, 2013-2018, which called for substantial increases in grants to organizations for programming and operations. The grants funding increases anticipated in the plan were not maintained beyond 2014.
Grants are one of three key ways municipalities invest in culture. Operating and capital expenditures represent other key channels. The City of Ottawa has dedicated significant funding to capital projects, in particular the Ottawa Art Gallery and Arts Court redevelopment, and renovation of La Nouvelle Scene francophone theatre.
- City of Ottawa. Cultural Funding. Accessed November 15, 2016.
Ottawa’s arts and culture grant funding is comparable to two of the three other largest municipalities in Canada
As reported by Municipal Benchmarking Network Canada (MBNC), in 2015, the City of Ottawa’s grants for arts, heritage and festivals were the second highest per capita among Canada’s four largest municipalities.
Significantly different outcomes between MBNC’s 2009 numbers and those arrived at by another independent analysis of culture grants by Canadian cities for that year, do suggest a need to be cautious with this type of data. Also, while the Ville de Montreal is clearly in a different league in its culture funding, part of the explanation lies in a long history of cultural development agreements with the province, which flow money through the municipality. In addition, Montreal’s funding jumped significantly in 2015 because of its preparation for its upcoming 375th anniversary.
There has been a collaborative initiative among Canada's six largest municipalities to come up with comparable numbers on culture spending, but the results are not currently available.
The way in which culture services are provided varies with each municipality. Because culture is unique to each municipality and service delivery is based on each one’s individual needs, there will inevitably be differences in levels of services. This municipal uniqueness should be carefully considered when comparing the results. Factors that can affect comparisons also include "in kind" services, tourism, access to services, types of service and service level.
- Hill Strategies Research Inc. Municipal Cultural Investment in Five Large Canadian Cities. 2012
- Municipal Benchmarking Network Canada. Culture. 2015. Accessed November 15, 2016.
Ottawa artists and organizations receive a relatively small share of funding from the two largest federal sources
The federal department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) are two of the largest funders of the arts in Canada. The CCA is mandated by Parliament to support the arts across the country. As a federal crown corporation, it operates at arm’s length from the government.
Both Canadian Heritage and the CCA allocate funding to individuals and organizations through a variety of programs, based on grant applications. Unlike Canadian Heritage, the CCA does not provide heritage grants, and is more exclusively focused on supporting artistic excellence among professional artists.
As federal institutions, these organizations report on how funds are distributed by province and territory. Another way to look at the geographic distribution is to calculate how much money goes to each municipality on a per capita basis. Excluding grants for nationally-focused initiatives, the amount received by Ottawa organizations and artists in 2015 worked out to $8.56 per resident from Canadian Heritage (roughly comparable to the amount granted by the City of Ottawa), and $4.09 from the CCA. This is modestly more on a per capita basis than the funding flowing to Edmonton and Calgary from these same funders, but significantly less than Toronto, and dramatically less than Vancouver and Montreal.
Based on available information, it is not possible to determine the extent to which variable funding levels between cities reflect differences in the number of applications submitted, versus differing rates of approval.
Although the Canadian Heritage measure excludes funding streams that are primarily for national initiatives, some funding for organizations with a national focus may end up being included. This would likely cause the effect of over-estimating the funding to Ottawa, although there are also national organizations in other cities.
- Government of Canada. Open Data. Analysis provided by the City of Ottawa.