The Peterborough Arts Umbrella (PAU) -- a respected arts organization that provided rehearsal space for musicians, digital media tools for filmmakers, and that organized key arts events in the city; and that advocated on behalf of artists -- has closed its doors after missing out on a $20,000 government grant.
Like many arts organizations, the PAU required on a patchwork quilt of grants as well as paid memberships. According to a report in the Peterborough Examiner, The PAU operated on grants from the City of Peterborough, Ontario Arts
Council, Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the
A local filmmaker, who is quoted in the story, describes the role of the PAU well: "It was a place where young artists and musicians could jumpstart their careers." The organization's mandate speaks volumes.
The Peterborough Arts Umbrella is a multi-disciplinary,
membership-based facility for working artists and community members
interested in the thriving Peterborough arts community. We offer many
services, including rehearsal spaces for musicians and other
performers, a digital media centre with audio and video editing suites,
and a 400-square-foot gallery. Since 1995 the Peterborough Arts
Umbrella has been a facility-based organization providing visibility
for the arts in our community as well as providing a supportive
environment where artists in all disciplines and all stages of
professional development in their careers meet, collaborate, learn,
discuss, produce and disseminate art. The Peterborough Arts Umbrella is
the only organization in the region that delivers both programs and
services across all disciplines. The Peterborough Arts Umbrella is
membership-based and governed by a volunteer board of directors who
report to our membership. The Peterborough Arts Umbrella encourages
discipline-specific collaboration with our membership and community
through working groups and community partnerships. The Peterborough
Arts Umbrella's unique artistic structure has enabled the PAU to remain
relevant to the needs of artists in the community and in our region.
This is the very type of project that should be at the top of the list for infrastructure funding, but, once again, arts and culture funding screen remains off the radar for this government -- and on Dean Del Mastro's home turf, no less. Dean Del Mastro, you may recall, is the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Heritage James Moore.
I can't help but wonder if the PAU's mandate to advocate on behalf of artists might have led to arts dollars gravitating towards other arts organizations, assuming the dollars lost were federal. (The news article is a big vague. It sounds like the dollars lost were Canada Council dollars, but I'm not 100% sure. Can anyone confirm?)
The Peterborough Arts Umbrella is a primary advocate for the arts
sector and as such plays a major policy role within our larger
community. The PAU provides sponsorship for non-registered groups and
organizations, providing charitable trusteeship for fundraising
activities. The PAU is a member of or actively involved with key
municipal, provincial and national stakeholders. The PAU has a
permanent seat on the City of Peterborough's Arts, Culture and Heritage
Division Board, a body which formally advises municipal government on
issues that affect our sector. The PAU is an advisor to Artscape's
Creative Clusters Development Program in Ontario and is also active in
Visual Arts Ontario, Community Arts Ontario, Theatre Ontario, IMAA
(Independent Media Arts Alliance) and NAMAC (National Aboriginal Media
We already know that the Harper government isn't big on funding any activities designed to help anyone speak up. And the PAU fulfilled that mandated brilliantly during the last federal election, helping to launch Ordinary Canadians for the Arts.
Coincidence? Maybe. But I thought someone should at least raise the possibility that arts advocacy organizations could be finding themselves to be the least popular kids on the arts organization federal funding block these days.