Friday, November 20, 2009

Beautiful City, Here We Come!

I just heard about an exciting bill that's coming up for a vote at Toronto City Council very soon.

Beautifulcity.ca
aims to tax public billboards and put the money raised into municipal arts funding. If it's passed, it would lead to much more public art in the city, and more funding for artists, festivals, and for marginalized communities in Toronto. It's a brilliant idea, and I think all Torontonians should go to the website, sign the petition, and call their city councillor to urge them to support this bill.



Here's a little bit of information from their website:

What?
BeautifulCity.ca is a city building initiative that aims to beautify, democratize and diversify access to public space, and in turn -- hold companies investing in billboard advertising accountable for their impact on shared spaces through an annual license fee. At earler staff estimated, mid-range revenues of 18 million per year (now knocked down to 11 million) the following would be possible:

• A historical 53% increase to the annual municipal funding available to all artists, festivals and arts institutions,
• Close to $100 000.00 dollars for public realm improvement for each Toronto ward, every year -- for projects such as greening,
• Almost a 1/3 of a million dollars for each of the 13 priority neighbourhoods to fund accessible youth arts programming, and
• Hiring 17 dedicated officers to enforce the new billboard bylaw.


How?
Through an tax paid for by third-party billboard advertisers. Revenue would go through Cultural Grants for arts, Clean and Beautiful funding to individual wards and the Community Resource Unit for marginalized communitties. Then directed to art in the public sphere (public art) through various arms-length agencies and peer assessed processes. A priority would be put on marginalized communities and youth art.


There is lots more at: http://www.beautifulcity.ca

Actions you can take:
> write and call your city councillor
> sign the petition in support of the bill at http://www.beautifulcity.ca
> show up for the debate and vote which will be November 30-December 1st.

And, for those of you outside Toronto, wish us luck -- it could have a ripple effect far beyond Toronto.

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