This morning City Council discussed Councillor Peter Demong’s notice of motion that I talked about over the weekend.
I try to back up my words with action if I am able. Yesterday I proposed a call to action and to attend the City Council meeting today.
As a result I attended the meeting in person. I was surprised at how quickly this meeting moved along. I was expecting substantially longer than what it actually took to get to the agenda item I was waiting for. As it turned out, the TV cameras and news reporters barely got there in time for the agenda item.
Councillor Demong placed a revised Notice of Motion onto the table when the agenda item was called.
The revised notice of motion, was for all intents and purposes the same as before. The major change was that the entire final paragraph was removed as seen in the before and after photos below.
This REMOVED paragraph in the revision (see original above, and revision below), ORIGINALLY contained the following:
AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED; that the service provided by the Public Art Board be temporarily suspended until further notice.
Councillors that spoke to the revised motion (see photo above), included things like a bizarre story from Councillor Sean Chu who regaled those in attendance with a fabulous tale about his children, ATMs and Mercedes Benz vehicles.
However, relevant points to the topic at hand were brought forward by Councillors Andre Chabot, Dianne Colley-Urquhart and Evan Woolley.
Through the comments made by these three members it was disclosed that other attempts to find cost-cutting measures have been proposed, but not dealt with, at this stage.
Another relevant comment brought forward was a reminder that in 2008, during the last economic set-back, the federal government actually increased funding for infrastructure projects instead of cutting as expected.
The inference was that to debate cuts before the budgets from both provincial and federal governments is a premature action. Not to mention that this notice of motion also unfairly targets a small portion of the city budget and an entire program that has already been allocated during the budget process last November. Allowing this motion to move forward to debate, only opens the door to further cuts to/of other programs individually.
It was discussed that this type of discussion should take place as part of a larger discussion about budgetary cuts and/or increases. The idea that some programs might even need an increase such as was a topic of discussion in a previous agenda item with regards to the Family & Community Support Services (FCCS) Calgary.
This revised notice of motion needed a 2/3 majority to move forward to debate. It was defeated by a vote of 9-5 (those on the losing side being Councillors Demong, Chu, Magliocca, Keating and Stevenson) with Councillor Ward Sutherland being absent for the vote.
As a result the motion did not even make it to the floor for debate.
However, I would suggest that we must remain vigilant.
I leave the final word to former Director of MoCA-Calgary and more recently, the former Artistic Director of Contemporary Calgary, Jeffrey Spalding who earlier today stated the following:
It is just sad that an argument can be floated that suggests that the public needs to be appeased by a symbolic blood-letting: by cutting arts funding. This has never been the effective strategy anywhere in the face of financial downturns. Culture is an economic driver, you need arts to help spur a recovery. The solution during the Great Depression of the 1930s was the WPA (the Works Progress Administration program in the USA. Spending money via the arts was foreseen as a societal good and an aid to their recovery.
…and oh yes, arts jobs are ‘jobs’ too!