On October 25, 2018, the Minister of Canadian Heritage & Multiculturalism, Pablo Rodriguez, made the official announcement that the federal government was permanently lifting the cap on the Endowment Incentives component of the Canadian Cultural Investment Fund. This was welcome news for both arts organizations that currently have endowments, and those that are considering starting them, as it provides a tremendous incentive for private donors to give to the arts, knowing that the government will match their gifts.
How did we get here? Well, through a multi-pronged approach! This item was one of four priorities submitted by the Canadian Arts Coalition – both as a written submission, and covered with politicians during Arts Day on the Hill in 2018. This issue was also included in PACT’s pre-budget submission to the Finance Ministry in 2017.
In addition to these more formal appeals by arts service organizations, several large arts organizations (both within and outside of theatre) banded together to make a case for this change, meeting with both Department of Canadian Heritage staff as well the politicians in both Minister Joly’s and then Minister Rodriguez’s offices. Within these smaller groups we were able to describe the impact of the Endowment Incentives component by giving specific examples of what the endowments were funding, whether it be tours, training, bursary programs, or new artistic ventures, and outlining the effect of the dollars on the arts.
What ultimately resulted in the change to the program? We cannot say for certain, but we know that this multi-pronged approach worked. Long time staff of the department, as well as elected officials heard the message. The request was consistent from the arts service organizations. And individual organizations were able to provide meaningful examples, which allowed the government to understand the impact of their decisions.
Sometimes it can feel like advocacy efforts are not working, as change within government happens slowly. However, with a consistent message in front of many different stakeholders, these efforts can and do pay off!