Federal Budget 2012

Federal Budget 2012

Much has been written about the federal budget, delivered by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on Thursday, 29 March – and more will be written in weeks to come, as detailed departmental spending estimates are released. In the meanwhile, though, we’ll provide the headlines we think are particularly pertinent to the orchestral sector.

Budget 2012 explicitly indicates that the budget for the Canada Council for the Arts will be maintained at $181 million for 2012-13. We have subsequently received informal confirmation from Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore that three other programs well-used by Canadian orchestras, the Canada Cultural Investment Fund (which includes the Arts Endowment Component), the Cultural Spaces Fund and the Canada Arts Presentations Fund, will maintain funding levels in 2012-13.

As has been widely reported elsewhere, other agencies of the Department of Canadian Heritage have not fared so well, with the National Arts Centre taking an ongoing funding reduction of $1.9 million and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation taking a $115 million cut. The effect of these funding reductions will be clarified in coming days.

While this news provides valued breathing room to Canadian orchestras, it’s fair to say that the notion of “business as usual” has fundamentally changed. Budget 2012 explicitly states that “[o]rganizations within the Canadian Heritage portfolio will streamline corporate support functions, consolidate office space and improve the efficiency of operating processes, improve processes for managing programs and operations, and prioritize grants and contributions. Canadian Heritage will move to a more integrated policy framework that focuses on the socioeconomic benefits that their programs offer to Canadians and their communities. The Department will also focus on funding that leverages contributions from partners.”

Similarly, the Budget Day release from the Canada Council for the Arts quotes Director Robert Sirman as saying that “[t]he government’s decision to maintain the Council’s funding gives us the opportunity to independently take actions that will generate savings that we can reinvest back into the professional arts sector. It will also enable us to ensure our programs continue to be relevant, cost-effective and responsive to the changing needs of the community. Over the next three years we will implement a number of changes that are already in development, including reducing the cost of our office space, streamlining operational processes and adjusting programs.” The release goes on to say, “[i]n the coming months, the Council will review options that address its traditional commitment to the core of creative arts practice while reflecting areas of increasing priority, including equity, public engagement, and national and international market access.”

In addition to the measures specific to arts investment that were announced in Budget 2012, there were also a number of references to the Canadian charitable and not for profit community.

They included:
• the fundraising potential inherent in the discontinuation of the penny;
• stricter guidelines for reporting political activity by charities, and the development and delivery of education programs by the Canada Revenue Agency to ensure that charities are accurately reporting their political activity. By law, charities are able to dedicate as much as 10% of their time and resources to non-partisan political activity; however, new measures will be put in place to better track and report it, including a new section in the annual T3010 form. For more information about this, please visit cra-arc.gc.ca;
• stricter guidelines for charities accepting gifts from foreign sources to underwrite political activity.

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