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Indirect Cultural Investments in Five Large Canadian Cities

A Preliminary Analysis

November 13, 201313 November 2013

Arts and culture funding and finances

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Based on a survey of and follow-up interviews with cultural staff members in five large cities (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal), this report provides a brief summary of indirect supports provided to the cultural sector. The report attempts to gauge the broader range of local supports for culture – beyond direct monetary support (which was highlighted in Municipal Cultural Investment in Five Large Canadian Cities, a previous report for the five cities).

While there is no standard definition of “indirect cultural investments”, nine elements were examined as potential indirect supports for culture (based on information provided in three previous reports related to this topic):

  1. Below-market or nominal rent
  2. Property tax rebates / exemptions (whether through local decision-making or provincial statutes)
  3. Free or below-market rates for advertising on city structures (e.g., bus shelters, buildings, etc.)
  4. In-kind services for festivals, special events, film, etc. (e.g., permits, fire, police, EMS, waste management, transit, etc.)
  5. Heritage conservation incentives (indirect / non-monetary)
  6. Density bonusing (i.e., allowing higher building density in return for community benefits)
  7. Community use agreements / public use of private spaces (e.g., a re-zoning condition allowing for cultural use of private space at a nominal rent)
  8. Modified planning regulations to support cultural sector (with no direct financial implications)
  9. Loan or line-of-credit guarantees by the city

The survey found that “the five cities provide a relatively similar ‘suite’ of indirect supports for the cultural sector”. All of the cities provide at least five of the nine indirect supports, with Vancouver providing eight supports, Toronto providing seven, Ottawa providing six, and Montreal and Calgary providing five.

Three of the indirect supports are provided by all five of the large cities:

  • Below-market or nominal rent for cultural organizations
  • Property tax rebates / exemptions
  • In-kind services for festivals, special events, film, etc.

Three indirect supports are provided by four large cities (with the city responding “no” being different for each of these supports):

  • Heritage conservation incentives (Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal)
  • Density bonusing (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Ottawa)
  • Modified planning regulations to support cultural sector (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal)

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