After a busy winter of arts advocacy on the budgetary front, we have seen some very positive developments that bode well for the future of the arts. The most notable and timely of these have no doubt already hit your radar with yesterday's 2016 Federal Budget announcements including $1.87 billion in arts and cultural investments over the next five years. The media coverage and response from arts organizations at the national level has already been in active circulation so I'll leave it to these notable links to speak to the particulars - though we are naturally very excited about the direct support to artists that is brewing in Canada Council funding increases and the reinstatement of international touring programs.
Even better still for our local arts community here in Hamilton is the decision of our City Council to wholeheartedly support both the second and third years of phased increases to arts and cultural investments through the City Enrichment Fund. After last year's protracted game of Budget Survivor to secure that initial $500,000 increase to support new Arts programs as well as $250,000 for other City Enrichment Fund programs, this year's Budget process proved to be a welcoming environment - one in which our Mayor and Councillors understood the positive impacts of last year's decision and the merits of maintaining that momentum by following the three-year road map proposed by the Arts Funding Task Force in their 2014 recommendations.
As such, the City Enrichment Fund received an additional $300,000 for Arts programs and $150,000 for other funding streams, including Communities, Culture and Heritage funding that supports much of Hamilton's grassroots cultural celebrations. This 2016 budget boost provides the funding needed to deliver two new Arts funding streams that were opened to applications last autumn: Capacity Building for Arts Organizations, and a much anticipated Creation and Presentation Grants program that provides support directly to individual artists in all disciplines.
In an equally encouraging move, a motion from Mayor Fred Eisenberger to extend advanced approval to 2017 increases to the City Enrichment Fund passed during this year's budget process. This alleviates any remaining uncertainty around the final $200,000 increase in Arts investment for next year and paves the way for City staff to implement the remaining funding programs proposed for the City Enrichment Fund, from Arts Innovation Grants to Capital Improvement and Equipment Grants. A full listing of the proposed Arts framework is available on the City website via this PDF.
Another benefit of this City-level support for the arts is that Hamilton Community Foundation will continue to deliver its own new grant programs through the Creative Arts Fund, which was established as equal parts incentive and enhancement to the City Enrichment Fund. As though in acknowledgement of this exceptionally good week for the arts, HCF has just opened applications for the 2016 Creative Arts Fund. Be sure to follow that link for guidelines and forms to pursue this valuable funding opportunity - the Creative Arts Fund is exceptionally well suited to small arts presenters and community engaged programming.
The Creative Arts Fund deadline to receive applications in Wednesday June 1.
2016 Grant Recommendations from the City Enrichment Fund will be reviewed by the Grants Sub-Committee at its Tuesday May 24 meeting.