After 9 months of consultation with 3,500 residents, the city’s Culture Master Plan was unanimously endorsed by Councillors at the Committee of Council meeting on Wednesday. Mayor Jeffrey also moved a motion to provide funding in the amount of $372,000. This funding, pending approval in the 2019 budget process, would support developing a non-profit organization that would “work alongside the City to build a vibrant arts scene and creative economy in Brampton.”
The city has been without a plan or direction since June-2015 when the Brampton Arts Council (BAC) closed its doors after the city abruptly changed how it funded community organizations. The BAC for 13 years received 100% of its core funding from the city. After the funding changes, the group was forced to take a 50% cut and was unable to remain viable. The Brampton Safe City organization which ran the city-wide Neighbourhood Watch program suffered a similar fate.
In 2016 the city opted to develop a new Community Grants program that funded arts, culture and sporting events through an annual grant application process. This year, over $850,000 was awarded to 34 grant recipients that include the Rotary Club of Brampton’s Rib’n Roll, Carabram (Brampton’s multicultural festival), World of Jazz Festival, the Festival of Literary Diversity, the Canadian Ultimate Championships, Sikh Heritage Month, and Brampton Canadettes Girls Hockey Association which as an organization received over $120,000 to run two tournaments.
The Community Grants program was originally intended to broaden access to funding for community groups and eliminate individual groups delegating directly to council for funding. However, in 2016, after a delegation by the privately owned Brampton Beast hockey club, a majority of 8 Councillors approved a $1.5M “sponsorship” package for the club over 3 years against staff report recommendations.
Critics of the grant program also point out that there is no funding for core operating costs, no multi-year agreements, no transparent/community based selection process, and no funding for organizations like the defunct Safe City Brampton that didn’t engage in festivals, sports or arts programs. The new Culture Master Plan also includes the following critique:
“Since the dissolution of the Brampton Arts Council several years before, the City of Brampton has filled the gap in terms of setting directions and providing funding within the limits of the Community Grants Program. But this has been a stopgap situation, and the City’s role will be to facilitate, promote and partner as described in the Arts and Culture Benchmarking Study completed earlier in 2017.”
Read the Full Plan: Culture Master Plan