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The Case for Arts in Communities - The Importance of a Budget Increase

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Through a Purchase of Service Agreement with the City of London Culture Services - Neighbourhood and Community Wide Services, the London Arts Council has provided various arts programs for the community over 23 years that build and sustain Londoners’ awareness of, involvement in, and support for all artistic disciplines. These programs have celebrated and supported London’s diverse artistic expressions by providing paid opportunities for professional artists of diverse backgrounds and experiences to develop and deliver artworks and art performances while encouraging community participation in the arts for all Londoners and visitors.

Londoners have expressed that they want our community to be welcoming, inclusive, and accessible. The London community believes that the City of London should be a leader in standing up against hate and intolerance by ensuring all Londoners have opportunities for full participation in accessible community programs without experiencing barriers. Londoners have expressed that they want to experience Arts and Culture throughout the city in their everyday lives, which is clearly reflected in growing community demands for diverse arts activations and programming (see charts 1 and 2).

London's culture reflects our community's identity, shared histories, values, beliefs, pride, and traditions, all of which are enriched by the diversity of our community. Culturally rich and diverse cities bring communities together by instilling a strong sense of belonging and social cohesion, and our diversity contributes to what makes London a vibrant, welcoming, and inclusive community. As we acknowledge our commitment to Indigenous peoples in London and surrounding First Nations and recognize the growing populations of diverse communities, London must provide adequate support to preserve and promote diverse expressions through arts and cultures. The London Arts Council recognizes the precarious nature of the arts sector and contributes to London’s talent attraction/retention of artists/creators through paid performance/mentorship/collaboration opportunities. The income statistics based on the 2021 Statistics Canada Census indicate that Ontario’s artists are at a significant disadvantage: the median personal income of Ontario professional artists was just $29,600 in 2020, whereas the median personal income of all Ontario workers was $50,400, meaning professional artists’ median income was 41% less than other workers (see chart 7). The London Arts Council also recognizes London’s growing population (see chart 3) especially within culturally diverse communities (see charts 4 and 5). The London region is one of Canada's and Ontario's fastest-growing metropolitan areas. According to Statistics Canada for 2022, international migration accounted for 75% of London's increase, and our diversity continues to contribute to what makes us a vibrant, welcoming, and inclusive community. Recent surveys, however, show that 34% of Londoners have encountered discrimination in the last 5 years due to ethnicity/culture, race/skin colour, and so on (see chart 6), and that 60% of immigrants in London-Middlesex have suffered discrimination and harassment in the last 3 years (London-Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership and Western University:

Since 2022, London Arts Live has received over $250,000 per year in programming requests from artists/creators and various community partners, greatly exceeding the current budget’s capacity. During COVID, London Arts Council successfully leveraged and managed an increased number of outdoor concerts and arts activations through the support of the London Community Recovery Network (LCRN) and other COVID emergency funding programs, meeting the community’s demands; however, these funding programs were discontinued as a result of the government’s decision re: COVID emergency support. London Arts Live and COVID-19 (in-person and online arts activations)

Compared to the previous year, in 2020, the number of artists participating in the London Arts Live activations decreased due to COVID 19. During the early stage of the pandemic, the London Arts Council provided daily London Arts Live Online sessions, which provided more than 160 live arts activations through Facebook until the government restrictions were lifted, which explains the sharp increase in the number of activations in 2020.

Leveraging COVID Emergency Funds for London Arts Live

In 2021 and 2022, the London Arts Council leveraged COVID-19 emergency funding to support artists with outdoor live performance opportunities: My Main Street reimbursement funding in early 2022 for 2021 activations and London Community Recovery Network (LCRN) funds to provide outdoor concerts and arts activations. As a result, in 2022, over 600 arts activations were delivered through London Arts Live, resulting in over $260,000 in artist fees (6.5 times more than London Arts Live's annual base budget). As most government funding programs discontinued COVID emergency support for the arts and culture sector, the 2023 budget was reduced significantly, yet community expectations for live arts experiences and artists needs for more performance opportunities are growing.

Chart 3. Population Change Over Time – London vs. Ontario (2017 - 2032)

Source: City of London Community Profile: Demographic Trends (2022)

According to the 2022 Statistic Canada data, The London region is among Canada’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas and the fastest in Ontario, with its population growing by an astonishing 10 percent (almost double the national average of 2%).

Chart 4. Total Percentage of Immigrants by Year – London vs. Ontario (2017-2032)

Source: City of London Community Profile: Demographic Trends (2022)

According to 2022 Statistics Canada figures, London’s growth was boosted in large part by international migration. In fact, three in every four of the London area’s 16,844 new residents between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, were immigrants.

London expects continued population growth, and the total percentage of immigrants is expected to grow faster than the overall population growth. By 2023, the total percent of immigrants will reach 26% of the total population.

Chart 5. Total Percentage of Racialized Communities by Year – London vs. Ontario (2017-2032)

Source: City of London Community Profile: Demographic Trends (2022)

London expects continued population growth, and the total percentage of racialized communities is expected to grow faster than the overall population growth. By 2023, the total percent of racialized communities will reach 26% of the total population.

Chart 6. Discrimination – London vs. Ontario

Source: City of London Community Profile: Discrimination and Safety (2022)

Chart 6 shows that Londoners experience higher numbers of discrimination in comparison to overall Ontario. Discriminations related to ethnicity/culture and race/skin colour were reported as the most common types of discrimination. Whereas the most common situations of discrimination were in work environments and in other common spaces, such as banks, stores, or restaurants.

Chart 7. Median Personal Incomes of Professional Artists in Ontario and Canada vs. All Ontario Workers (2020)

Source: Hill Strategies, research supported by Ontario Arts Council, using custom data that Hill Strategies requested from Statistics Canada’s 2021 long-form census.

The income statistics indicate that Ontario’s artists are at a significant disadvantage, with personal incomes 41% less than other workers. That disadvantage carries over into household incomes that are 23% lower than other workers.

The median employment income of Ontario artists was just $11,200 in 2020, which is about one-quarter of the median employment income of all Ontario workers ($42,400).

The median personal income of artists (from all sources) was $29,600 in 2020, 41% below that of all Ontario workers ($50,400). Once again, the level in Ontario helps to define the median of all Canadian artists, which is a very similar ($30,200). The chart shows the median personal incomes of all artists in Ontario, all Canadian artists, and all Ontario workers.


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