As you probably read in my last post, Ottawa City Council is proposing to cut 100% of funding for most arts organizations, which would decimate local culture at a tax savings of about $4 per person, per year.
Unsurprisingly, this has caused a fair share of outrage from the local arts community and the people who support it. The community has united in a way that it doesn’t normally do to fight these cuts and to get people to take action by writing their councillors and telling them that their Ottawa includes culture.
The same thing happened in 2004 when the same cuts were proposed, and the arts community had to drop everything to fight a ridiculous budget plan. The difference in 2008 is the way the community mobilized.
They created information pages with a mechanism to send a letter directly from the page, Facebook groups with thousands of members, videos and microsites for people to pass around and get their friends to express their concerns. Social media gave the local cultural a much larger voice than they’ve ever had. Beyond that, we organized through social media as well – collaborating on spreading the word and assembling at City Hall to make our voice heard.
The results won’t be seen until Friday, but most of the councillors I have spoken with have expressed that they have been inundated with hundreds of comments about the cuts. If they listen to their constituents even a little, this proposal will be defeated.
So, to those who live in Ottawa and value culture, I say this: “Pass it on.”
Thanks to Susan Murphy and Cheryl Gain for helping out with the editing on these videos.