As part of our unofficial countdown to the 2019 Federal elections, Beyond James is publishing a series of articles on the small, but impactful actions that arts supporters can take to ensure that arts and culture remain a priority for candidates seeking election.
In the first article of this series, we covered some questions to ask any candidate to help advocate for the arts during the Federal Election campaign period. The second article provided resources for a number of arts service organizations who represent arts workers from a variety of sectors and are running large scale campaigns to promote their platform to the individual parties. Our final article before the election provided information on where to find both detailed and summarized versions of the major political parties platforms regarding arts and culture.
On October 21, approximately 17.9 million Canadians, or 66% of eligible voters, went to the polls to vote in this year’s federal election that resulted in a minority government for the Liberals. If you’ve been following along in our election series, you are probably not only well versed in how to help advocate for the arts, but also knowledgeable about the work being done in the sector and the specific arts and culture platforms of each political party.
But if you thought the work of an arts advocate ended on election day, you’re wrong. As new representatives take office, they are learning about their ridings in a whole new way, with a lot of new responsibilities. This presents an incredible opportunity for artists and arts organizations to introduce themselves to their MP (whether they are new to the Legislature or a re-elected incumbent) by congratulating them on their recent victory and letting them know about your work. This small step can be the start of building and maintaining relationships at the local level, and helping to make your continued voice for arts advocacy heard.
From there, keep your MP involved. Invite them to your events; send them your newsletter and provide them with photo opportunities so they can share the good work and value that your art provides to the community.
Simultaneously, continue to advocate. Review the platform that the Liberal party ran on, and hold your MP accountable to those promises. Remind your MP of the value of the arts to Canadians using information from Statistics Canada, the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA), the Canada Council for the Arts and the Canadian Arts Coalition. Hill Strategies Research recently released a statistic suggesting that culture’s direct impact on Canada’s economy ($61.7 billion) is up to 10 times larger than that of sports. This is worth sharing and reminding your representative about.
Arts and culture don’t often become central issues in federal elections, but it is arts and culture which help to shape our national identity. Although this year’s federal election may be over, the conversations around arts and culture are not, and it is up to all of us to ensure they continue.