Indirect Cultural Investments in Saskatoon in 2016

With comparisons to seven other Canadian municipalities

This report summarizes non-financial supports provided by eight Canadian municipalities to the cultural sector in 2016, based on in-depth discussions and a survey of cultural staff members in the municipalities, which included District of Sechelt (B.C.), Edmonton, Saskatoon, London, Brampton, Mississauga, Greater Sudbury, and Halifax Regional Municipality. The report builds on a similar project conducted for five of Canada’s largest cities in 2013.

Following Statistics Canada’s definition of culture (“Creative artistic activity and the goods and services produced by it, and the preservation of heritage”), 11 categories of non-monetary, or “indirect”, cultural investments were identified:

  1. “In-kind services for festivals, special events, film, etc. (e.g., permits, fire, police, EMS, waste management, transit, etc.)
  2. Below-market or nominal rent in municipally-owned spaces for arts, culture, and heritage organizations
  3. Property tax rebates / abatements / exemptions for arts, culture, and heritage organizations (whether through local decision-making or provincial statutes)
  4. Line of credit / loan guarantees for arts, culture, and heritage organizations
  5. Fund management / investments (e.g., endowments, trusts) on behalf of arts, culture, and heritage organizations
  6. Community capacity building (e.g., board development, organizational development, workshops, seminars, meetings)
  7. Free or below-market rates for arts, culture, and heritage organization advertising on city structures (e.g., bus shelters, buildings, etc.).
  8. Formal arts, cultural, or heritage districts (approval, development, or planning)
  9. Heritage conservation incentives (indirect / non-monetary)
  10. Modified planning regulations to support cultural sector (with no direct financial implications)
  11. Density bonusing (i.e., allowing higher building density in return for community cultural benefits)”

The report indicates that, in general, “similar types of supports are provided in many municipalities”:

  • “Four supports are provided by all eight municipalities” (in-kind services, below-market or nominal rent, property tax relief, and capacity-building efforts).
  • “Seven of the eight municipalities award density bonusing (i.e., allow higher building density in return for community benefits).”
  • “Six municipalities provide free or below-market rates for arts, culture, heritage organization advertising on city structures (e.g., bus shelters, buildings, etc.).”
  • “Five are involved in the approval, development and/or planning of formal arts, cultural, or heritage districts, and the same number provide indirect (non-monetary) heritage conservation incentives.”

While the average number of indirect supports provided in the participating municipalities is eight, there are some differences: ten supports are provided in Brampton and London, nine in Halifax and Mississauga, seven in Edmonton, Sechelt, and Sudbury, and six in Saskatoon.

The report outlines several challenges in the attempt to estimate the value of these non-monetary supports:

  • The lack of a “standard methodology for estimating the value of indirect cultural investments. This study uses municipal estimates of out-of-pocket expenses and foregone revenues as the best possible estimates.”
  • “Many data gaps – areas where the value of indirect financial cultural investments could only be approximated or could not be estimated at all”.
  • The two-tiered municipal structure of a few participating municipalities, which led to potential data gaps in some areas.
  • Complexities in “identifying all costs for each of the 11 supports”, which led to partial value estimates and a lack of overall comparability of monetary estimates.

Five of the eight municipalities provided full estimates of the value of property tax rebates / abatements / exemptions (the wording of which varies across the country). On a per capita basis, the value of property tax relief was $1.16 in Saskatoon, $2.22 in Halifax, $2.68 in Edmonton (2012 estimate), $3.51 in Sechelt, and $5.86 in London (a figure that includes “substantial 100% exemptions for two major cultural venues”).

Summary: 

This report summarizes non-financial supports provided by eight Canadian municipalities to the cultural sector in 2016, based on in-depth discussions and a survey of cultural staff members in the municipalities, which included District of Sechelt (B.C.), Edmonton, Saskatoon, London, Brampton, Mississauga, Greater Sudbury, and Halifax Regional Municipality. Eleven categories of non-monetary, or “indirect”, cultural investments were identified.