CORNWALL, Ontario – Facing the prospect of a steep increase on residential property taxes, the Community Agencies Committee carefully considered the more than $200, 000 in funding requests it had before it on Wednesday night.
Ultimately, the committee had $127, 000 in its purse to give out and with the looming fight over the tax budget on the minds of the members of the committees, some community agencies saw their funding cut.
One such agency was Your Arts Council (YAC), a community agency dedicated to supporting and promoting the arts in Cornwall and the surrounding counties.
The committee decided to grant the YAC $15, 000 of their requested $50, 000.
The YAC sent an appeal to its supporters to get them to convince the committee and Cornwall City Council, to change its mind.
“Though we are grateful for any contribution, $15,000 is not enough for us to function in any remotely efficient way in 2017,” the YAC statement said. “We are a resource to the City of Cornwall in many ways. We are connected to and respected by many arts groups and artists in the community and are adding new connections every day.”
The YAC then outlined some of the artistic and culturally significant events that they had brought to the city.
“We have staged or contributed to the success of many art events and initiatives” the YAC argues. For example, Apples & Art would not have been as successful as it has been without our help, and it generated a lot of pride and income for the community and it’s artists. YACabuskalooza was a fun family celebration featuring local performers, artists, and arts groups. It covered dance, pop opera, accordion, soloists, duo’s, rock, country, ballads, a tent with working visual artists from Focus Art, face-painting, balloon sculptors, and Benson’s was kind enough to sponsor our refreshment stand.”
The YAC also argued that they were the most cost effective way of promoting the arts in Cornwall. Cornwall City Council recently heard plans to build a new art centre in the city and the YAC argue that it could not be run effectively without them.
There is no other group better established, equipped, or positioned to run a successful art centre. We could step into that role tomorrow.
“We are the most cost-efficient solution available,” the YAC’s statement reads. “The $50,000 we have requested for 2017 is significantly less than what previous efforts at addressing the Arts and Culture sector in Cornwall have cost, and a small portion of what the proposed Art Centre projected yearly expense will be. Our incredible and dedicated volunteer base enables us to deliver a high volume of quality services at a very reasonable ROI. The Cornwall taxpayer has spent a total of $78,000 on YAC since our inception in 2012. We have returned many times that if you consider Apples & Art alone. Cornwall’s $50,000 investment for 2017, coupled with our incubated events budgets and our own fundraising efforts, will help us qualify for 3 years of core funding from the Ontario Arts Council starting in 2018.”
The YAC closed their appeal by asking residents to lobby on their behalf to tell council that tax dollars were worth spending on the arts and warned that this cut could wipe away what they have built.
The Community Agencies Committee voted to disburse $82, 000 of the possible $127, 000 they had in their envelope. If their recommendation is passed by Council that would mean $45, 000 in savings on the City’s budget.