The directors of Sackville’s Struts and Owens art galleries are calling on the new Town of Tantramar to increase funding for arts and culture groups in 2023.
During a joint presentation to Sackville Town Council last week, Paul Henderson and Emily Falvey argued that investments in arts and culture pay huge dividends.
They cited a 2019 study from Oxford Economics showing, for example, that non-profit galleries, libraries, archives and museums in Canada generate nearly $4 in social benefits for every $1 invested in them.
Falvey says the returns for Sackville’s municipal investments have been even higher.
“The Owens’ annual operating grant from the town last year was $1,000, but we provided Sackville with $160,000 worth of exhibitions, arts education and community outreach projects and events,” she told council.
“For every dollar the town spent on the Owens in 2021-2022, it got $160 in benefits and that doesn’t include all the indirect benefits to tourism and the local economy that came from our programs — and the same is true for Struts,” she said.
Falvey, who made the presentation to council on behalf of both galleries, also referred to a report published in 2019, showing that, according to Statistics Canada, New Brunswick’s arts and culture sector generated nearly $1 billion in economic output in 2017 and contributed $550 million to New Brunswick’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), higher than other key sectors such as agriculture, the pulp and paper industry, seafood production or mining.
The StatsCan figures also show that New Brunswick’s arts and culture sector employed 7,570 people in 2017, 1,600 fewer than in 2010.
“When a business thrives, you invest in it and a few people get richer,” Falvey told council.
“When you invest in arts and culture, the entire community gets richer.”
Mayor Mesheau thanked Falvey and Henderson for their presentation.
“That’s incredible, that information,” Mesheau said. “It’s definitely an eyeopener.”
For previous Warktimes coverage of recommendations from the Premier’s Task Force on improving artists’ status and economic security, click here.