Paul Dewar releases report on Ottawa arts scene

Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar hosted a pub night to mark the release of “Arts and Minds,” a report on the state of the arts in Ottawa. The report was based on comments received from a town hall in November of last year.

The report details five key areas of the Ottawa arts scene that were identified as needing improvement, and offers recommendations for a plan of action.

Dewar outlined the main topics of the report, over pints and plates of food, at a full house at the Fox and Feather on Elgin Street.

The report recommends increased promotion of arts in the education system, stressed the importance of having teachers who are trained in the arts to work in schools, and to increase arts opportunities for senior citizens.

In order to alleviate artist poverty, the report recommends “increasing the threshold for taxable income for the self-employed” at both the federal and provincial level.

“Once people understand how hard artists work then this is a no-brainer,” said Dewar.

Dewar reminded guests of the importance to hold candidates accountable on advocacy for the arts when the time comes to elect a new city council.

“This city should be known and branded as an arts-friendly city. And I’m talking about the grass roots of this city. That needs to be put on the political agenda,” said Dewar.

“When we look to the federal and provincial governments for funding we want to make sure it’s tout ensemble, that this city is speaking as one when it comes to the arts. And that means we have to have a council that gets it, a council that’s vocal on it, and a council that’s going to advocate for the arts,” said Dewar.

“There are other things we do in this country,” said Dewar about expanding areas that get funding.  

“It isn’t just about playing hockey,” he said.

Peter Honeywell, executive director of the Canadian Council for the Arts in Ottawa, said that this was the first year in his memory that he did not have to make a presentation to city council advocating for the arts.

“It looks pretty good this year,” said Honeywell.

“I think we’ve actually changed the thinking on city council. I’ve been talking to city councillors who five years ago did not support the arts,” said Honeywell. “I think we’re cracking them.”