Nova Scotia is home to an incredible, vibrant arts and culture sector, a critical economic building block for the province. According to the Culture Satellite Account (2020), culture contributes $989 million to Nova Scotia’s GDP and accounts for more than 14,000 jobs, employing more people than farming, fishing and forestry combined.
We reflect Nova Scotia in both traditional and cutting edge ways in every village and city of the province from Yarmouth to Sydney. Through music, dance, theatre, circus, visual arts, media, literature, craft and all the other disciplines, we create community identity, connect people from different communities and backgrounds, instil pride in Nova Scotians, and are a major draw for both tourists and new residents to Nova Scotia.
However there has been historic underfunding, and the operating programs* of both the NS Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage and the NS Arts Council have been essentially frozen since 2006.
That's through five provincial governments. And at the same time as those dollars have stayed stagnant, the minimum wage rose from $7.15 to $13.60, inflation has continued to rise and the actual cost of, well, everything, has steadily risen, even before the advent of COVID-19.
Not only has that kept organizations from thriving, the lack of new investment has limited new voices from entering the operating fund pool, which Nova Scotia needs to keeps the arts and culture sector revitalized.
Our sector, which is made up of thousands of Nova Scotians, has also suffered tremendous hardship throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last three years, we have seen drastic reductions in income, workforce, and wellbeing. The sector has endured repeated and prolonged closures, layoffs and terminations, the loss of highly professionalized staff, and alarming impacts on mental health. We were the first to shut down and will be the last to fully reopen. Federally, the sector has been categorized as “hardest hit.”
In the spring of 2021, the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council and Arts Nova Scotia facilitated conversations with nearly 200 community stakeholders. These sessions focused on the challenges faced during the pandemic, and how this sector could and should be harnessed to make Nova Scotia more vibrant, resilient, and inclusive. The resulting report, Building Back Better: A Vision for Culture Sector Recovery in Nova Scotia (BBB), assessed what needs to be done to ensure the arts and culture sector is a key part of Nova Scotia’s recovery and strong and visionary future.
While the disease may be waning, and restrictions may be lifting, that doesn't fix the pandemic-related or systemic issues facing our sector as outlined in the BBB report. The time is now to ensure our provincial government accepts the recommendations of that report and include immediate and sustainable investment for arts and culture in the provincial budget. We need your voice to ensure a successful recovery and rebuilding.
Take action now to rebuild Nova Scotia's Arts And Culture sector for the future. Arts and culture in Nova Scotia is a critical economic building block for the province. According to the Culture Satellite Account (2020), culture contributes $989 million to Nova Scotia’s GDP and accounts for more than 14,000 jobs employing more people than farming, fishing and forestry combined.
It is also important to note that Nova Scotians overwhelmingly agree that culture provides substantial benefits to their overall wellbeing.
80% of Nova Scotians say that culture helps create community identity
76% of Nova Scotians say that culture helps connect people from different communities and backgrounds
76% of Nova Scotians say that culture makes them proud of where they live
Culture is a key driver to attract visitors and new residents to Nova Scotia
"Our sector has suffered tremendous hardship throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last two years, we have seen drastic reductions to income, workforce, and wellbeing. The sector has endured repeated and prolonged closures, layoffs and terminations, the loss of highly professionalized staff, and alarming impacts on mental health. We were the first to shut down and will be the last to fully reopen. Federally, the sector has been categorized as “hardest hit.”
[While] the culture sector [has] greatly suffered as a result of COVID-19…culture [has] played an essential role in helping people through the pandemic…Perhaps now more than ever, we find ourselves in a moment where the public understands that culture is an intrinsic and necessary part of our daily lives.
…We believe culture must play an essential role in the province’s post-pandemic recovery plans. Throughout the spring of 2021, the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council and Arts Nova Scotia partnered on an initiative to solicit input from the sector on how best to do this. Together, we facilitated conversations with nearly 200 stakeholders…These sessions focused not only on the challenges they faced and the issues that emerged during the pandemic, but also on how this sector could and should be harnessed to make Nova Scotia more vibrant, resilient, and inclusive."
The resulting report assessed what needs to be done to move the arts and culture sector into a healthier, equitable, and more sustainable future in Nova Scotia.
The operating funding programs (meaning those that provide stable annual support for organizations which serve their community on an ongoing basis) in Nova Scotia provide approximately $3.707m annually spread over 74 organizations. The majority of these organizations have had no increases in over 10 years, and nomeaningful increase since 2006, and there is little opportunity for new arts organizations to gain investment.
The provincial government is setting its budget now and the need has never been greater to ensure they adopt the recommendations included here.
We hope you will help advocate for these recommendations by
making a submission to the Budget Consultation (email@example.com)
contacting your MLA
advocating with the public and those connected to arts and culture organizations.
Our three requests (totalling less than $7 million for the whole sector in NS) are:
The arts, and specifically the live performance sector in Nova Scotia must be provincially recognized as a “hardest hit sector” that requires critical emergency investment immediately to bridge the gap to the recovery phase of the pandemic crisis.
The Operational Support for Cultural Organizations Program has not seen a meaningful budget increase since 2006. Since then, inflation has grown 50% and continues to grow as a result of the pandemic. New investment for operations from the Department and NS Arts Council will facilitate increased stability, welcome new organizations, and include avenues to recognize and sustain self-producing artists, all required for a successful economic recovery in the post-pandemic world. Such investment will positively impact on the sector, and therefore individual artists. We are asking for a doubling of support for operating programs and the program to be indexed to inflation in subsequent years.
3. Building Back Better
The Province of Nova Scotia needs new and sustained investment in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, and further investment in other innovative programs which will stimulate an equitable and robust recovery.
For more information about this campaign or the issues facing the arts and culture sector, please contact