Since the loss of the Brampton Arts Council (BAC) back in 2015, local arts groups in Brampton have been expressing the lack of essential support to keep their organizations thriving.

The mission of the now-defunct Brampton Arts Council (BAC) was to foster and promote the arts in Brampton. But it lost its funding after Council voted to restructure the city’s grants program, leaving the organization without enough funding to keep operating.

BAC had its challenges, and some criticized it for frequently funding the same groups, but its exodus left the local arts community to face its challenges alone — things like funding and space have always been difficult for the arts community in Brampton.

The Brampton Arts Coalition, a new group made up Brampton Music Theatre, Beaux Arts, Brampton Folk Club and others, is asking council to take action.

Last year the city launched an Arts and Culture Master Plan, where it took stock of everything and set milestones for enhancing the local arts scene and tapping into its economic opportunities moving forward.

Last June Brampton City Council voted unanimously to support the Master Plan and by extension, to set up an arms-length organization to lead arts-related activities in Brampton. They also approved a minimum budget of $372,000 to implement arts and culture programming and services as well as an additional $1 million towards the arts.

The coalition says it’s been missing some fundamental things — arts events, peer-to-peer networking and promotional opportunities are just a few. It recently presented to council and is taking them to task on what they see as council’s flagging commitment to support local arts.

Currently, Brampton spends less than $1 per capita on the arts. It’s a far cry from cities like Toronto, which spends $25 per capita, and Ottawa, which spends $28.

“We are hopeful about the future of the arts in Brampton and feel this is the beginning of a rebirth of stronger support for the arts,” says Sharon Vandrish, Director at Brampton Music Theatre and elected chair of the new arts coalition committee.

In its presentation, the coalition provided examples of what other cities are doing. In Toronto, artists have lots of access to funding and grants. In Hamilton, there are thousands of events they can participate in, and in Montreal, there are opportunities for partnership.

The coalition’s main request is to have council set up an interim task force to develop a model for a future arts council that’s “best suited” for Brampton — with a goal of having the new arts council set up and operational by the end of 2019 in order to be ready for 2020 budgeting.

For now, Brampton City Council has asked staff to report back to make sure any decisions made represent the heart of the Arts and Culture Master Plan. A report is expected in the next few weeks.

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