Sounding the Alarm for Brampton Arts

The future of arts in Brampton is in question.

Charles Scott, a Brampton resident, filmmaker and patron of the arts, is sounding the alarm on behalf of the entire arts community in Brampton, saying that Brampton City Council is woefully underfunding the arts and risking the financial success of the businesses and quality of life of residents who call the city home.

Charles Scott, MA
Charles Scott, MA

A recently approved budget by the City of Brampton offers little funding for the arts, and Scott blames Council for failing in their responsibility to the community.

“We don’t have a way for our emerging artists to gather,” says Scott. “Our artist-run centre, Beaux-Arts, has no core funding from our city; Even a town like North Bay, from where I am from, has a municipal art gallery and three artist-run centres funded by the municipality.”

Arts funding in other cities has shown measurable economic benefits, often helping to revitalize urban areas, all while enhancing the cultural experience and improving citizens’ quality of life. With politicians always needing to balance budget constraints and pressure from residents who decry tax increases, Scott believes that the city needs to look at the big picture.

“In Ontario, $28.5 billion of GDP is created by arts and culture. Over 300,000 jobs. Far more than from things like sports, yet Brampton is whole hog into sports, building giant arenas and soccer centres.”

Pointing out the recent $1.5 million given to the privately-owned Brampton Beast hockey team, Scott says that the city needs to balance its support for the community more effectively to ensure we get value for taxpayer dollars. “We’re paying $13,000 per home game, and there’s some kind of mystery marketing that we are getting out of it, and, as a citizen I don’t see it.” There is no marketing metric to measure the benefits of the Brampton Beast deal, and there has been no observable value shown to date.

Over the past three years, the City of Hamilton has invested an additional $1.5 million into their arts community on top of previous funding, and the effects have been profound, with areas previously plagued by problems like vagrancy and issues related to drug and alcohol abuse, seeing increased use and new life.

“Hamilton has changed completely,” says Scott. “The downtown of Hamilton is vibrant.” Scott points out that art galleries there are busy and the effects spill over into the rest of the city. “They get more people through the door on a Friday evening than probably come to an art gallery in Brampton in a year.” Over the next few years, Hamilton plans to invest an additional $500,000 every year towards arts and culture.

Scott believes the city is losing out to other municipalities. “In Brampton right now, we have people creating music. We have young artists working, and what happens is they all end up going to Toronto or to Mississauga,” says Scott. “We need to create an arts community here in Brampton, and that comes with some core funding.”

The fundamental question for policy makers becomes whether there is a real benefit to funding the arts community in Brampton, and a recent rash of restaurant closures in downtown Brampton may indicate that something is missing.

“Why are restaurants in a town of 600,000 people, quality restaurants, going out of business?” asks Scott. “They are going out of business because something is not attracting them to the downtown, and that could be the arts.”

With both a provincial and a municipal election scheduled for this year, Scott wants residents to consider their choices carefully, especially as candidates ask for their vote. “I don’t think that anyone should vote for a politician that doesn’t put arts and culture into their platform in this day and age, in the economy that we have, in Ontario.”

“We cannot be a global city without arts and culture, and right now, Brampton has almost no arts and culture,” warns Scott. “The groups that are working in Brampton are struggling, and the philosophy of funding is wrong. We need to change that philosophy.”

See the full interview with Charles Scott below via Brampton Focus, with host Michael A. Charbon.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I have already emailed the mayor and ALL city councillors complaining of this. If everyone involved in the arts community in Brampton does this MAYBE they’ll take notice.
    There is more to life than hockey.

  2. I have already emailed our Mayor and city council. If everyone involved in the arts in Brampton does this maybe they’ll take notice.
    There is more to life than hockey!

  3. To get ‘core funding’ for the arts first:
    – show us the benefits received by the City and its residents during funding of the Brampton Arts Council
    – show us that The money will not be spent outside of Brampton
    – show us a budget that clearly demonstrates a defined plan by the group to raise a minimum of 75% of their budget requirements
    – demonstrate that staffing of any offices etc. would be done on merit not connections

    • To the Concerned taxpayer.

      With the city of Brampton being one of the fastest growing cities in Canada and being extremely culturally diverse ethnically, the city does lack its own cultural identity. The 9th largest city in Canada, It currently seems that our city has come to some growing pains in this department for some reason.

      If we compare our city to the 9th largest city in the USA which is Dallas,TX and asked you to tell me what is the Known food and music and culture there I’m pretty sure the average adult who has never been there can give a pretty accurate answer of barbeque or tex-mex and musically country or blues.

      When it comes to cultural identity the art does give you an image of a place for example if you were to see heiroglyphs we think of Egypt, when you see the Mona Lisa painting or the statue of David we think of Italy. And same thing goes with music, there are certain sounds people connect with certain place or times of their lives with. Can we say the same with our city?

      Depending on where I travel to I hear many stories about people going to Toronto and loving it because of how much music is there and art. Toronto is even known in the the music industry for it’s sound because of artists like Drake and the Weeknd. Why not here?

      The benefits of having a budget for the arts isn’t just cultural identity, but business as well. There should be no reason why our downtown isn’t busy every weekend and why all the restaurants and coffee places aren’t generating enough money to keep there doors open. The city has been trying to generate movement there for quite some time now by having the rose theatre, live performances outside of the the theatre and and installing the huge screen so our residents can watch movies and enjoy sports events together like a community. Arts will only be another way to help generate more movement in our city like music does.

      Art also attracts people from other cities from around the GTA or tourism, And Normally when people travel somewhere they tend to spend money on food, drinks, hotels, and other things like going to the Mall or checking out our other local businesses.

      By supporting our arts and local artists is our city’s way of investing in its own taxpayers who support and vote for councillors to promote our talent and have our talent go out into the world and promote our city’s name, and with that being said normally for those who become successful do end up giving back to their community in more Than monetary ways.

      With that being said it seems that the reply to this article seems to be from someone at the position that can make this budget happen. The average taxpayer wouldn’t be asking about having a defined plan for 75% of the budget requirements especially on an article, also the line about demonstrating that staffing is on merit not connections. For the record I’m not part of the council at all, nor any other organizations or boards. Realistically I’m not understanding why our city has to be so divided on issues that in other cities it’s a no brainer. I really do hope that the reasoning behind this isn’t a personal one. Also it is an election year and for people who own a business they may be dependent on our city trying to help them save their business and if our councillors haven’t thought of a way to connect with the younger voter demographic which is a pretty big demographic for our city, perhaps with art and music you can connect with us. Or maybe our councillors have just lost touch with the community and it’s time for a change.

  4. We all know it’s about demographics. The Brampton of today is not the Brampton of 10 years ago. The needs of our ever evolving (for better or worse) City does not reflect a great need for money for “the Arts”. The Minority voice is fast becoming the Majority voice, and THAT voice gets to say where the money is spent. I would hazard a guess that most artistic endeavours put on by our “ever changing demographic” are entirely self-funded as their audience is also demographically determined. City money is not needed for such events so the City budget for the rest of us becomes less important. Only the bigger shows put on by the bigger venues – that can draw an audience from the entire GTA – seem to be important enough to be financially supported.

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