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Subject heading: Take a moment to think about the arts this parliamentary session
Dear [insert MP’s name],
My name is [insert your name]. I am a [insert an artist/cultural worker/arts patron/other…] currently living in [insert municipality/region]. I am writing to you today because I believe that the arts are an essential aspect of Canadian society. The activities of artists and arts organizations participate in strengthening communities across the country, foster dialogue on Canadian identity and heritage, and contribute to current conversations around social, environmental, and economic issues that impact the everyday lives of Canadian citizens.
Sustaining a healthy arts and culture sector in Canada can only have beneficial impacts on the lives of Canadians across the country, and on the overall Canadian economy. There are countless non-measurable benefits to increased arts and culture funding, with trickle down effects into the economy. These include: increased quality of life, strengthening Canada’s identity and communities, and increased recognition of Canadian artists and artistic production at the international level.
I trust that you are well aware of the numerous studies that demonstrate the positive impacts of the cultural sector’s activities on Canada’s economy. At the dawn of the 21st century, we need to consider sustainable economic practices, innovative approaches to development, and the ever-increasing need to think about changing social conditions in a globalized culture. The arts are well positioned to address these ideas, foster social and economic growth through creativity, and encourage inter-cultural dialogue at local and global levels.
The annual Arts Day on Parliament Hill was scheduled to take place on October 22, 2013. Unfortunately, due the prorogation of parliament earlier this Fall, Arts Day on the Hill had to be cancelled. Nevertheless, as a citizen that believes in the importance of the arts’ contributions to Canadian society, I have taken the liberty to remind you of the issues that would have been discussed on the Hill should the Arts Day have taken place. I would like to share the following information from Hills Strategies research, which I believe you will find informative of the situation of artists in the country:
The gap between artists’ average earnings and overall labour force earnings is 37%.
A typical artist, on their own, lives in a situation of extreme low income: the median earnings of artists are 38% below the low‐income cutoff for larger urban areas ($20,800).
The average earnings of Aboriginal artists are 30% lower than the average for all artists.
On average, female artists earn 28% less than the average earnings of male artists.
42% of artists are self-employed, 6x the rate of the overall labour force (7%).
Individual artists are at the heart of the Canadian arts and culture sector, yet their situation is becoming increasingly precarious. In light of these observations, I encourage you to consider the following facts and statistics and set in place measures to increase federal funding to the arts. Increasing federal funding to the arts will help ensure that Canadian artists can continue to produce and present work locally.
I support the Canadian Coalition for the Arts’ recommendation to stimulate job creation and local economic development by increasing the annual Parliamentary allocation to the Canada Council for the Arts by a minimum of 10% in 2014-15.
I thank you for your time and hope that the federal government will take actions to ensure the sustainability of Canadian artistic production. I strongly believe that we can’t afford to prorogue the arts.