Priority Based Budgeting – Objective # 10

Today we look briefly at Strategic Objective # 10:

Nurture Our Arts, Culture and Learning Capital

There are a number of Outcomes associated with this Objective that are spread out across the four years of this Strategic Plan. 

2015 Outcomes 

  • Increased number of funding partners for the McPherson Theatre.

2017 Outcome

  • Victoria has an Arts and Culture Master Plan.
  • A new Arts Centre serves as a cultural hub.

2018 Outcome

  • Support for arts and culture is increased, inclusive and strategic.
  • Successful Western Canada Music Awards/ BreakOut West event with Rifflandia sees Region being asked to bid for the JUNOS.
  • A new Central Library serves the community.

There are a number of 2015 and 2016 Actions associated with this Objective which include:

2015 Action

  • Support the 2015 event Western Canada Music Awards/BreakOut West with Rifflandia.
  • Work with the CRD to increase number of funding partners for McPherson Theatre.
  • Identify resources required to develop Arts and Culture Plan.
  • Provide background on arts and cultural mapping to the public

2016 Action

  • Develop Arts and Culture Master Plan.
  • Fund an Economic Impact Study linked to a Cultural Master Plan.
  • Identify scope and develop budget strategy for a new Central Library.

There are five Considerations associated with this Objective:

  • McPherson funding strategy to be Councillor-led.
  • Scoping for new library can begin in 2016 with additional information from Greater Victoria Public Library,
  • Facilities assessment and property acquisition strategy, as well as economic development function.
  • Due to several considerations and information forthcoming from economic development, property acquisition strategy and Greater Victoria Public Library, “New Central Library” is moved to 2018. Greater Victoria Public Library is presenting to GPC on February 26 regarding a James Bay Library.
  • An economic impact study to be an inherent component of a Cultural Master Plan.

Lastly, as a hallmark of Priority Based Budgeting (the new city of Victoria emphasis), the section for Estimated Resources associated with Nurture Our Arts, Culture and Learning Capital includes nothing of substance:

  • Central Library requires capital funding. Currently not contemplated in Financial Plan.

So What Does This Mean?

Compared to some of the other Strategic Priorities reviewed to date, this section is quite the random assortment of items with no real overarching themes other than an implicit recognition of the Economic Impact of arts and cultural related actions to the City’s Economy. If you want to know about what departments in the city are currently responsible for Arts and Culture type items this includes both Parks Recreation and Culture (Ops Budget here) and the Victoria Conference Centre (VCC Ops Budget).

And during her budget presentation, Victoria Conference Centre manager spoke briefly of efficiencies that have been recently achieved through the “co-location” of cultural workers with the Conference Centre. She also indicated that she is working with Tourism Victoria to update her current economic impact measures as they are more than 10 years old. Which is to say, that the City of Victoria does not possess a solid methodology for assessing the impact of large scale events in the city to our economy (e.g., what sort of impact occurs when a big conference or concert is held downtown).

And by the looks of this strategic objective, an additional Arts and Culture specific Economic Impact analysis will be conducted in 2016. Sound efficient eh? But perhaps we’ll host the Junos for the first time ever?

So what about the other individual actions?

McPherson Theatre

This was an item from Councillor Coleman and according to the Capital Regional District CRD website:

Funding for the Royal Theatre comes from levies from the local service areas of Victoria, Oak Bay and Saanich in the form of property value tax, and fees and charges.

Only the City of Victoria paricipates in the McPherson Playhouse service. Funding comes from a property value tax and fees and charges.

If you look through the City’s budget, you do not find any mention of the McPerson Playhouse. Nor was any provided during the budget or strategic planning discussions. Clarity on this issue was actually only  received at a recent Special Governance and Priorities Committee meeting that was scheduled for a CRD presentation.

In response to a question from Councillor Isitt, the CRD Director of Finance revealed that an issue of land title is holding up any action on this file – it seems that City of Victoria staff have yet to complete the paperwork necessary to effectively transfer title of the property from  the City to the CRD. Which is why the City is still the solitary funder for the theatre to the tune of $750,000 a year, or $16.05 for the average homeowner – as collected by the CRD (see page 22).

So… I guess the strategic action is to cut down the city’s share?

Arts and Cultural Master Plan

What is an Arts and Cultural master plan? Here is an example of one from Port Moody, and if you take a look through it you’ll see that the primary function of such a document is to inventory all items related to Arts and Culture in a city. This is similar to what is known as Arts and Cultural “mapping” and as you will have noticed, a strategic 2015 Action for the City is that we’ll be provided “background” on what such mapping would consist of.

So what does the City currently do about Arts and Culture?

If you search the words “Arts and Culture” in the City’s budget the first mention you’ll find is in the Community Overview section (see page 3):

Victoria is home to a vibrant and eclectic arts and culture community, from world class performing arts, museums and festivals to local authors and artisans.

The next substantive mention is within the Departmental Summary for Parks Recreation and Culture where you’ll find (see pg 461):

Arts and Culture

    • Over 250 special event permits and 60 filming permits for public spaces
    • Coordination of Canada Day Celebrations
    • Festival Investment, Community Art, and Artist-in-Residence Grant program administration
    • Public art program policy, projects, and walking tours
    • Festival equipment loan program and support
    • Centennial Square and Cameron band shell programming and lunchtime concerts

As well as (see page 462):

Arts, Culture and Special Events

  • Art in parkades
  • Broad Street public art project
  • Evaluation of social media tools for special event promotion

And then from an actual fiscal perspective, you can find funding of nearly $1 million dollars for direct commitments to Arts and Culture activities spread across the following four city accounts (see page 516 – 532):

  • Arts and Culture (Business Unit 5240) section of the budget with estimated costs for 2015 of $327,646;
  • Maintenance of Public Art (Business Unit 5245)  with estimated 2015 costs of $15,000;
  • Public Art Creation (Business Unit 5246) with estimated 2015 costs of $0 because of an anticipated transfer of $145,000 from the Public Art reserve fund with the City of Victoria;
  • Special Events (Business Unit 5270) withe estimated 2015 costs of $445,261.

Of note is that an additional city project was discussed during the department budget reviews when Councillor Loveday asked about the website known as website which is primarily funded by the City. Where or how I do not know but Councillor Loveday was interested in seeing more advertising related to this site. It is supposed to be an online space for the Arts community.

Outside of the City, I can see the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria and from a tourism perspective, there is a Arts, Culture and History listing from the Tourism Victoria website. There are probably others as well, and I wonder how many of them will be involved in the anticipated 2015 Action of figuring out how to fund and generate a Victoria BC Arts and Culture Master plan?

And I ask this because I assume a certain amount of collaboration would be needed for the anticipated 2018 Outcome of Support for arts and culture is increased, inclusive and strategic. But then what kind of support are they talking about – public, private or from the City? I do not know.

A New Central Library

This new library issue is an odd one that I’ve previously written about within the context of Governance and Priorities Committee meetings. First there was the Greater Victoria Public Library 2015 budget presentation that occurred on February 26th and next there was approval of an additional Council motion on March 12th for a staff report in implications of including capital funding for such a library in the 2017 capital plan – in support of the 2018 Outcome of a new library.

But then if you look at the Considerations and Estimated Resources for this Objective, you almost get the sense that staff is defining “a new central library” as NOT a new library in James Bay (through the proposed Capital Park Development) – which seems to have been the focus of all other efforts to date.

So again, I do not know.

Nor do I know what the 2017 Outcome of A new Arts Centre serves as a cultural hub is supposed to represent because this issue was never really discussed in depth I don’t believe.

What Do I Know?

I know that there is a pot of money worth $841,744 that has been put aside every year for the next five years under in an account called Strategic Plan grants (see page 800-803 Corporate Grants) and that nothing about this fund is defined within the budget. I also know that a summary of this exact account is provided on the Community Arts Grants page of the City of Victoria website, despite no strategic Actions having been listed under this Objective Nurture Our Arts, Culture and Learning Capital to increase available City grants for Arts and Culture.

Perhaps Kristina Oberg, Manager of Arts, Culture and Special Events (who can be reached at 250.361.0524 or at might actually know more?





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