We have heard great stories here on the PACT Advocacy Blog about the need for support for theatre for young audiences and overall access to the arts for young people. Well, I am here today to say that one of the best things you can do to get your politicians to understand the impact of our sector is to have young people themselves tell their stories!
Last year in Toronto, we once again found ourselves heading to City Hall to reiterate the vital importance of allocating a further $2Million toward municipal culture funding to bring us to a level of $25 per capita (which, I will note, is still one of the lowest in the country). Local arts advocates had been at this for over a decade. Many went to locations across the city to make deputations in support of this long-overdue funding. I, myself, was preparing to go and speak about the necessity of accessibility to the arts for young people in the GTA when it occurred to me that it would be far more effective…to have those young people speak for themselves.
On the evening of January 10, 2018, I headed to Toronto City Hall with three great young advocates in tow – Sayak, age 14; Naila, age 13; and Mercedes, age 18. After what I’m sure seemed to them an interminable wait, it was finally their turn to make their deputation to City of Toronto Budget Chief Gary Crawford and Committee Member Shelley Carroll. They were great. They spoke succinctly and convincingly – because they were telling their own stories. Councillor Carroll even had some questions for them which they handled wonderfully.
Sayak, Naila and Mercedes got a great chance to participate in civic engagement and to have their voices be heard on something they all cared about deeply, and in the end, the Toronto arts community got their $2Million, as well as a recommendation for similar funding on an annual basis. Now, I’m not saying that it was all down to my three young friends…but I am sure that it made those councillors stop for just a moment during a very long night of deputations to really listen.
We always hear that youth are our future, but I think they are one of our greatest resources right now. Let’s not wait to engage these fantastic young citizens!
Senior Director of Administration
Young People’s Theatre