Flat-lined but Still Alive

Overview of the 2012-13 Provincial and Territorial Budgets from the Perspective of the Arts and Culture Sector

This report, based on an analysis of budget information from each province and territory, provides a summary of cultural spending in 2012-13 by each provincial and territorial government, along with a brief analysis of overall trends.

The report recognizes the challenges of comparing cultural funding between provinces and territories. Key differences between the provinces and territories include:

  • Different cultural policies and programs.
  • Differing histories of cultural support, resulting from varied political, economic, and social contexts.
  • Different methods for administering cultural revenues and expenditures. In addition, the report indicates that “not all expenditures and revenues that can be considered ‘cultural’ are counted.”

The analytical section of the report highlights social factors taken into account in provincial and territorial decision-making regarding culture. The report indicates that, in “Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia, culture is viewed as a means of promoting creative and prosperous communities that attract tourists and creative workers. However, this message is less prominent in the other provinces and territories.”

The report notes that fiscal restraint was a key priority for many provincial and territorial governments, limiting the potential for growth in cultural budgets. In this context, the report indicates that “cultural budgets in most jurisdictions are flat-lined” in 2012/13.

There appears to be a trend of providing tax credits for children’s arts activities, with several provinces introducing new credits or expanding sports-related tax credits to arts activities. New tax credits were announced in British Columbia, the Yukon, and Quebec, while Manitoba implemented a similar credit in 2011. Saskatchewan did so in 2009. The report argues that, “with the flat-lining of arts budgets in all these jurisdictions, it appears that these provincial governments are trying, among other things, to encourage the arts community to offer classes for children and thus increase their reliance on the market for ongoing support.”

In most jurisdictions, film-related tax credits were maintained. However, in Saskatchewan, the Film Employment Tax Credit was eliminated.

In New Brunswick, the provincial government did not change cultural budgets, pending completion of a major Cultural Policy Renewal exercise.

Heritage-related changes were, in general, thought to be “neutral or mildly negative”. While many jurisdictions had no change in their heritage supports, a number of provincial museums received moderate decreases in their budgets.

The analysis concludes that “across Canada, there is a persistent sense of unease about future levels of provincial support for the cultural sector”.

While not nearly as thorough as the Canadian Conference of the Arts report, an information sheet from The Arts Advocate (http://on.fb.me/17vNWh1) provides highlights of provincial arts and culture spending in 2013/14. Many arts councils and boards saw no change in funding, and there were some increases and some decreases in other provincial supports. Positive developments include the establishment of Creative BC, Creative Saskatchewan, the Ontario Music Fund, and Arts Nova Scotia. However, the new Saskatchewan organization follows the loss of film tax credits in the province.

Summary: 

This report, based on an analysis of budget information from each province and territory, provides a summary of cultural spending in 2012-13 by each provincial and territorial government, along with a brief analysis of overall trends. The report notes that fiscal restraint was a key priority for many provincial and territorial governments, limiting the potential for growth in cultural budgets. In this context, the report indicates that “cultural budgets in most jurisdictions are flat-lined” in 2012/13.