A Business Case from Our Arts Community

So I blew it. There have been a lot of survey requests coming my way and I missed the deadline for the Prince Edward County Arts Council Survey of Candidates. What makes this even more frustrating for me is that along with their survey request, PECAC sent a terrific backgrounder/business case that lines up with my own guiding principles. You may recall these are:

  1. Be Fact Based/Employ Data
  2. Search Out Best Practices
  3. Quantify the Impact
  4. Recommend Specific Actionable Targets

You can find the link to their excellent paper here:


Some things I learned from their paper

  1. The Prince Edward County Arts Council represents 400 artists, galleries, arts organizations and community arts participants
  2. Moneysense.ca ranked the County 9th out of 100 cities in their list of “Canada’s Best Places for Arts and Community (2017)”  (So we have momentum!)
  3. County Arts signature programs generate more than $1 million in direct and indirect economic benefits, including roughly $250,000 in arts sales, attended by 15,000 people
  4. 3.1% of the County workforce is in the arts, recreation and entertainment sector – on par with Stratford.
  5. The County Arts lab has created 30 new teaching jobs for artists and paid out $25,000 in teaching wages to artists
  6. The US National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has found that at risk students involved in the arts, compared to students with little to no arts exposure, have higher secondary school graduation rates and higher grades and test scores – including math and science. (Could they be of help to our highschools)

They have identified ideas from other communities

  • Stratford and Kingston pay $3.56 and $4.36 per capita to arts related initiatives. The County pays $2.56.
  • Guelph requires developers to pay a 4% of the land value of a project to a Community Benefits Charge which in part funds the arts
  • Huntsville, Kingston and St. Catherines use a portion of the Municipal Accommodation Tax to fund art and cultural events
  • Toronto has a public arts program whereby 1% of capital budgets of all major municipal buildings is dedicated to public art; and the city encourages a public art budget of 1$ of gross construction costs on private development

The Target

The Prince Edward County Arts Council is seeking a doubling of the annual budget for arts related activities to 137,000. This would represent 0.20% of our annual spending. (Or basically 1/5th of 1% of our spending)

I support this but with a few requests:

  1. That the annual art show held at the Armoury in July be moved to a non peak time of year – perhaps May?  This fits with my goal of supporting tourism in shoulder seasons rather than peak seasons to smooth out the summer tourism impact and extend the tourism season to support the incomes of our people employed in the tourism sector
  2. Working with our school trustees, I’d like to see some of the funds be employed in our high schools for initiatives there to improve school results – seek out specific ideas from the US NEA?
  3. That we seek out project partners among nearby First Nations as part of our reconciliation efforts
  4. That the County encourage a matching program of donations. So we would start with an increase to $4 per capita (the halfway point between Stratford and Kingston)  but encourage a matching program from the community in the first year, perhaps working with the County Foundation.
  5. Discuss with the Vital Signs team at the County Foundation how to go about assessing the impact of the increased funding.

I hadn’t realized just how impactful our Arts Community is. Thank you PECAC. Let’s Do More Of What Works!!

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