BILLBOARD TAX GETS TEETH BACK
>> Tax Upheld 3-0 by Ontario Court of Appeal, Grandfathering Removed >>
Toronto, Canada // Today the Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld Toronto's billboard tax 3-0, overturning the lower court's earlier decision. This represents a big win for everyone who pushed for the tax and defended it during the court action.
BeautifulCity.ca expects that the decision will be useful during next year's budget process to help service the commitments Toronto City Council made to increasing arts funding. To date, council has made three unfulfilled commitments to enhancing Toronto's vibrancy and competitiveness including the Creative Capital Gains Report (Passed May 2011) Strategies for Arts and Culture Funding (2010) and The Cultural Plan (2003.) Currently investment by Toronto ranks lowest by a wide margin among comparable Canadian Cities (Hill, 2012) and due to inflation, has eroded by over 5% in the past two years.
The appeal process started after a unanimous decision by Planning and Growth Management Committee on March 25, 2011.
Resources:Court Decision Document:http://www.ontariocourts.ca/decisions/2012/2012ONCA0212.htm Municipal Cultural Investment in Five Large Canadian Cities (Hill, 2012)http://www.hillstrategies.com/docs/Municipal_cultural_investments_5cities.pdf
- xxiii -Community ReleaseMarch 25, 2011
PGM PASSES APPEAL UNANIMOUSLY
The Planning and Growth Management Committee has unanimously approved appealing the billboard tax. Many thanks to Councillors across the spectrum including Karen Stintz, Ana Bailão, Frank Di Giorgio and Adam Vaughan as well as guest Councillors including Joe Mihevc, Shelley Carroll and Janet Davis. Extra-special thanks to Councillors Gary Crawford (Scarborough Southwest) and Peter Milczyn (Committee Chair) for showing leadership on ushering this issue through successfully to council for (deep-breath) final decision on April 12. If you have a moment, please take one to thank the Councillors.
Deputations included Shannon Litzenberger ( http://www.shannonlitzenberger.com ) with dash of Ravi Jain ( http://www.theatrewhynot.org/ ) Claire McWatt ( http://www.thetyc.ca/ ) Claire Hopkinson ( http://www.torontoartscouncil.org ) Rami Tabello ( http://www.illegalsigns.ca ) Devon Ostrom ( http://www.beautifulcity.ca ) and an excellent deputation by Clara Fraser, simultaneously channeling both Seema Jethalal and Nayani Vathsaladevi-Thiyagarajah ( http://www.themanifesto.ca ) Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed on short notice.
'Circle, Councillors Gary Crawford and Ana Bailão' (back view) Photo Credit: Liezel LaPointe, 2011 http://www.lapointeproductions.com/ More here: http://tinyurl.com/PGM-24-11-album
NEXT (HOT) STEPS The next step is for Council to approve the appeal on April 12. While the issue is hot, please visit http://app.toronto.ca/wards/jsp/wards.jsp to find your councillor and let them know how important it is that the billboard tax is appealed. Please let us know how it goes so we can (a) say hi and (b) get a better idea how things are going across the city. There are some useful arguments to use in the section below.
'Same as above, two towers and a circle' (front view)Photo Credit: Liezel LaPointe, 2011 http://www.lapointeproductions.com/ More here: http://tinyurl.com/PGM-24-11-album//////////////////////////////////////////////////////
11 KEY ARGUMENTS FOR APPEALING THE BILLBOARD LEVY
1. Shows customer service excellence | 70% of Toronto's taxpayers (citizens) support the levy across 3 independent polls. (Please see: http://beautifulcity.ca/bcbf.asp?id=29 )
2. Unique tax | The billboard tax is not like the other taxes in dispute. It was introduced independently under Mayor Lastman in 2001, is supported by a large majority and was frequently cited in staff reports as popular. (Please see: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/time/consult.jpg )
3. Accountability | If left as-is, the city is out 10 million. This takes us one step further away from the $25 per capita increase to arts investment Mayor Ford agreed to while campaigning. (Please see: August 25, 26 and 27, 2010 Council.)
4. Decision is unclear | The basis for exempting signs erected before 2010 has been described by councillors as "ridiculous," akin to exempting people born before a certain date of income tax and could set a dangerous precedent. The court decision also needs further clarification around the word 'respect'. (Please see: http://tinyurl.com/OntCourtRuling pg. 45-48)
5. Responsiveness | It shows respect for almost a decade of youth-led, citizen effort to improve Toronto's shared spaces for citizens and businesses alike. (Please see: http://beautifulcity.ca/bcbf.asp?id=19 )
6. Community Support | Over 60+ organizations endorse the idea from across Toronto and there are over 4700+ signatories from every Toronto ward.
7. Diversity | The objective of the fee for use of public airspace is to beautify public spaces across the city and expand access to artistic expression.
8. Value Shared Spaces | Almost all other forms of advertising subsidize significant cultural content in exchange for the public's attention (e.g. TV includes 45 minutes of educational or entertaining content in exchange for 15 minutes of advertising, newspapers about 50/50.) Billboards, however, effectively give only advertising to the public as people have no choice in viewing the messages.
9. Responsible | It is disappointing and demeaning to the idea of civic engagement if the court system can be used to override hard-fought, democratically achieved decisions.
10. Investment | A 2006 McKinsey and Co. study found that "for every 1 dollar of public arts funding in a regional economy, 8 (dollars) are generated."
11. City Building | According to EKOS Research, 80% of Torontonians think that government investment in arts in public spaces improves the local economy.
////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ATTEND THE CREATIVE CAPITAL CONSULTATIONSDate: Monday March 28 and Thursday April 7, 2011Time: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. both nightsPlace: Toronto City Hall, Council Chambers (100 Queen St. West)More info: http://tinyurl.com/CCIConsult
MEDIAPatrick White, 'Toronto, ad firms plan separate appeals over billboard tax ruling' Globe, March 24, 2011http://tinyurl.com/PGM-globe1Kelly Grant, '$10-million sign tax ruling is likely to prompt some soul-searching' Globe, March 4, 2011http://tinyurl.com/PGM-globe2Don Peat, 'City committee votes to appeal billboard tax ruling' Sun, March 24, 2011http://tinyurl.com/PGM-sun1Hamutal Dotan 'City May Appeal Court Ruling on Billboard Tax' Torontoist March 24, 2011http://tinyurl.com/PGM-Torontoist1Enzo M, 'Cityscape' section, scroll Down' Now, March 24, 2011http://tinyurl.com/PGM-Now
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March 16th, 2011 (additions on March 22)Community Advisory
Background & Update: Billboard tax court decision
Whether or not the court appeal should be launched will be decided by Planning and Growth Management Committee (PGM) Thursday, March 24th, in Committee Room 1. This will be followed by Council on April 12th. While Justice Penny upheld the tax, the court struck down the ability of the City to tax signs that were erected prior to the date the City began collecting the tax in April 2010. This effectively kills the tax as more than 95% of signs in Toronto were erected before April 2010. Without the tax, Toronto will also be short the $10 million it needs to balance its 2011 budget.
The lawsuit, launched by Pattison Outdoor and industry association Out of Home Marketing Association of Canada (OMAC), follows the industry practice of using the courts to undermine democratic decisions of municipal governments.
Left unchallenged it also disrespects almost a decade of hard fought campaigning by BeautifulCity.ca and citizens across Toronto. According to three independent public opinion polls, going back as far as 2005, approximately 70% of Torontonians support the tax for art and over 4500 people signed a petition of support. The tax was also frequently cited in staff and consultant's reports as being highly popular.
BeautifulCity.ca is a broad based alliance of over 60 youth, arts and civic sector organizations who introduced the idea of a billboard levy for use of public airspace under Mayor Lastman. The objective of the tax is to beautify public spaces across the city and expand access to artistic expression.
These goals are underlined by the fact that all other forms of advertising subsidize significant cultural content in exchange for the public's attention (e.g. TV includes 45 minutes of educational or entertaining content in exchange for 15 minutes of advertising, newspapers about 50/50.) Billboards, however, effectively give only advertising to the public as people have no choice in viewing the messages. The tax is meant to offset this imbalance.
City builders are taking heart in that during his campaign, Mayor Rob Ford voted to increase lagging arts investment to $25 per-capita as part of a 40/1 council decision.
>> March 24th PGM InfoPlanning and Growth Management Committee (PGM) Thursday, March 24th, in Committee Room 1.Meeting monitor: http://tinyurl.com/PGMmeetingmonitor Agenda item: http://tinyurl.com/PGM-item-m24 Invite: http://tinyurl.com/PGM-Thurs-24>> ResourcesSuperior Court Ruling: http://tinyurl.com/OntCourtRuling pg. 45-48)Polling Info: http://beautifulcity.ca/bcbf.asp?id=29
>> InquiriesDevon Ostromdevon@beautifulcity.ca416 528 5747
Community Advisory / ForwardJan 18, 2011 Forward >> Calling all artists and arts organizations: Please join us at City Budget Deputation meetings being held January 19 and 20
For the first time, all of Toronto's funded arts organizations are collaborating on a shared presentation for the Budget Committee. There are four separate meetings being held, and presentations will be led by one of: Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, the Major Cultural Organizations or Toronto Arts Council at each meeting.
As is stands now, the City's proposed budget for arts organizations including TAC is a flat-line. This means no cuts and no increases. Toronto Arts Council, working with our colleagues, will present the case that Toronto City Council should honour its previous recommendations to increase arts funding to $25 per capita by 2013.
Anyone wishing to add their voice to the budget discussion may register to depute to: email@example.com before January 18.
Even if you don't want to speak - please come out to support your arts colleagues who will present budget recommendations on behalf of the community.
Public Deputations on Toronto's budget are being held, as follows:1. Wednesday January 19, 6-9 p.m. at both: a) North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St. and b) East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Avenue2. Thursday, January 20, 6-9 p.m. at both:a) Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive, andb) York Civic Centre, 2700 Eglinton Avenue WestClick here for directions to all civic centres:http://www.toronto.ca/311/locations.htm Facebook Groups:-> Scarborough: http://on.fb.me/g0NQnA-> North York: http://on.fb.me/ijkRvl-> Downtown & East York: http://on.fb.me/fURsJ3-> Etobicoke & York: http://on.fb.me/g5Aw75
Show your support!
P.s. Art AttackHands: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh2HCqJ3ssoMoney: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIrVd8tTTM8** Save the Dates **Executive Committee, Feb. 17City Council, Feb. 24 - xxii -
Community ReleaseAugust 26 2010 //// Victory: Council Passes $17.5 Million Increase to Arts Investment 40-1! //// Toronto // Today Toronto city Council passed a recommendation to increase arts funding to $25 per capita by 2013. This should result in 17.5 million dollars in additional yearly investment by 2013. This city building decision was made possible by the hard fought billboard tax initiated in 2001 by Beautifulcity.ca -- but goes above and beyond the projected revenue. The effort was also boosted forward by an unfulfilled council decision from 2003 from the Culture Plan and recent studies showing the critical importance of increased investment in arts and culture in Toronto. Devon Ostrom, founder of the Beautifulcity. Alliance stated: "This is an amazing day in Toronto's development. Council has fulfilled the obligation to leverage the revenue from the billboard tax revenue into the arts, build a vibrant cultural capital, put food in the fridges of thousands of artists and has given a voice to hundreds of under-served communities across the city." Regarding the upcoming election, co-coordinator Sabra Ripley noted that, "Almost all of the front-running mayoral candidates have endorsed using the billboard tax to rejuvinate the arts and cultural industries in this city. The next step is to get out and vote, encourage others to do the same and elect arts friendly, city building politicians to make sure this decision sticks."
/ InquiriesSabra@beautifulcity.ca | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com | skype: devon.ostrom / Save the Date!Mayoral Arts Debate - Wednesday, September 29- AGO 7pm - 8:30pmPresented by Business for the Arts, in partnership with ArtsVote Toronto, the Toronto Arts Council, the AGO and Manifesto
-xxi-August 16Community Release // Executive unanimously recommends increase in arts investment to $25 per-capita // Toronto, ON // Today the Executive Committee of the City of Toronto unanimously recommended an increase in arts funding to $25 per capita by 2013. Pending approval by Council on August 25/26 this will result in 17.5 million dollars in additional investment by 2013. The cash starved arts and culture sector will see the funds broken into a cumulative 5.83 million dollar increments added every year for the next 3 years. The Toronto Arts Council, Major Cultural Organizations, Local Arts Service Organizations and community arts are to be recognized as the highest funding priority. This city building decision was made possible by the hard fought billboard tax iniated in 2001 by Beautifulcity.ca -- but goes above and beyond the projected revenue! Currently, Toronto lags behind most North American cities in per-capita spending at $18, whereas Montreal currently invests $33 per capita. (See quotes from Executive below.) ! Action Point ! ** Time to get our collaboration on! Please phone your local councillor and ask them what you can do to make sure the increase passes Council on August 25/26. Find your councillor here: http://app.toronto.ca/wards/jsp/wards.jsp ** / Photos of Exec. http://tinyurl.com/BeautifulcityPhotos / Previous PR, Video, Mayoral Endorsements http://beautifulcity.ca/bcbf.asp?id=22 / Inquiries Sabra@beautifulcity.ca | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com | skype: devon.ostrom
/ Quotes from August 16th Executive:"The Agenda for Prosperity and the Culture Plan are key to the economic development of our City." "When you fund the arts you are funding poverty… people in the arts are living in poverty and that is a disgrace." Councillor Kyle Rae
"It is not a question of 'can we afford to do it.' We cannot afford not to do it."Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone
"We have a culture plan. Now we need to fund it." "Community arts really is about building neighbourhoods… and that's what we should be supporting as we move forward."Councillor Janet Davis
"We wouldn't have a Distillery District, we wouldn't have a Regent Park revitalization project… we wouldn't have tax bases like these if we didn't have the artists."Councillor Pam McConnell
Re: The upcoming election: "This is just one moment in a series of moments and we have to be very strong and stick to our guns as we work to make the culture plan a reality"Councillor Joe Mihevc
Community ReleaseAugust 13th
// Friendly Reminder, Monday 10am - City Hall, Support the Arts ! + New Video City Hall //
>> Come show your support for increased arts funding in Toronto supported by the billboard tax. Monday Aug. 16th 10-11am - Committee Room 1, Please spread the word! Speakers to include: Karen Kain, Eric Peterson, Che Kothari, R.H. Thomson, Cameron Bailey, Jim Fleck and Sabra Ripley <<
Show Support for Arts Funding Increase - Monday Aug 16th - City Hall, 10:00am from BeautifulCity.ca on Vimeo.
Mayoral Quotes, PR & Key Asks: http://tinyurl.com/2v2gzfm Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=108689862519545&ref=ts Strategies for Arts and Culture Funding Report: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2010/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-32905.pdf New Video: http://www.vimeo.com/14105047 Video Mirror: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzOgnms-Dl4
Press ReleaseAttention News EditorsAugust 6th, 2010
// Executive Committee to decide on long-term plan to increase arts funding supported by billboard tax //
>> Top mayoral candidates join the almost unanimous endorsement of a move to bring arts spending up to $25 per-capita. New funds available as a result of ground-breaking campaign by BeautifulCity.ca. >>
Toronto, ON // On August 16th City Council's Executive Committee will decide on a long-term plan to increase arts funding with new money made available from the recently implemented billboard tax. In a unprecedented show of support from across the spectrum, advocates, citizens, councillors and top mayoral candidates (see quotes section below) are united in a call to create a more vibrant and healthy city by increasing funding for the arts. This investment of new funds is in-line with commitments made in the City's 2003 Culture Plan and will bring per-capita arts investment in Toronto closer to the levels achieved by other major North American cites.
Applauding an increase in arts funding the Beautifulcity.ca Alliance holds that:- The maximum possible amount of funds should go into grants, as this is the most cost effective means of getting funds to artists. - The primary mechanism to distribute the new funds should be through the Toronto Arts Council which, as an existing artist driven entity with a transparent, peer run delivery system, is well positioned to adjudicate funds in a fair and sustainable way. - New funds should be directed to arts immediately, beginning with the 2011 budget.- The TAC should work with Beautifulcity.ca to ensure that the allocation of new funds is consistent with the values established by the Alliance and prioritizes accessible funding for new, emerging and diverse artists and art in public spaces.
// Recent Legislative History On April 15 2010 -- in response to strong and sustained public pressure including the 'Invoice Town Hall' (vid 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0sLY4R5Hkk + vid 2: http://vimeo.com/10467626 ) and an EKOS Poll ( http://www.beautifulcity.ca/ekos.pdf ) showing that only 18% of Torontonians support a billboard tax that merely goes to general revenue -- the 2010 city budget was passed with a motion by Budget Chief Shelley Carroll to direct "the GM of Economic Development and Culture to submit a report to Executive Committee within the current mandate, on possible strategies for Arts and Culture funding in future years, taking into consideration the new revenue stream created by the Billboard Tax and Council's previously adopted Culture Plan, appended to the Martin Prosperity Institute report which evaluates the cost of addressing inflation as well as matching expected growth in the sector." More info and facts: http://beautifulcity.ca/bcbf.asp?id=19
// InquiriesSabra@firstname.lastname@example.org@beautifulcity.ca skype: devon.ostrom
// Mayoral Quotes of Support"At the first debate in the Mayor's race, I called for funds generated by the billboard tax to be put to use enhancing our arts and culture sector and improving the public realm. It's good to see that the city is finally fulfilling the pledge they made to Beautiful City."George Smitherman, Mayoral Candidate
"As a first step, Rossi's Creative City plan would immediately increase per capita funding of the Arts to $25 - a 39 per cent increase. About two-thirds of the estimated $17.5 million cost of this change will come from billboard tax revenues."Press Release: 'Rocco Rossi vows major new role for arts,' July 2nd 2010
"I remain committed to doubling arts funding, precisely because it is that one organic entity that never dies long after a city declines, and, God forbid, decays. Toronto is especially lucky to have a collective as well organized as the beautifulcity.ca group, and I can only hope to champion their cause when I am elected on Oct. 25th."Rocco Achampong, Mayoral Candidate
"I am 1000 percent behind the billboard tax going to art."Councillor Joe Pantalone, Mayoral Candidate
"Arts and cultural organizations have a huge economic impact on cities. They stimulate creativity and create vital communities that generate jobs and revenues. They are employers, producers and key promoters of our city. Arts and cultural organizations have a crucial impact on our economy. But they also deepen our understanding of the human spirit, extending our capacity to understand others and imagine how to create a better world. Our municipal government must set the stage of support for our arts and cultural organizations. I believe the billboard tax collected should be applied to supporting arts and cultural organizations in Toronto."Sarah Thompson, Mayoral Candidate
// Supplementary Quote"The challenge ahead is to take the innovative change we have created together and make it sustainable and fully integrated / institutionalized into the larger structures so that good things can happen on a perennial basis. Success will be found in the negotiation between the values that brought BeautifulCity.ca together, the need to rejuvenate our shared funding bodies and the stability and fairness they offer. "Devon Ostrom, Co-coordinator / Founder - Beautifulcity.ca Alliance
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Community ReleaseApril 16, 2010
Moscoe Brings Magic Art Wand, Billboard Tax for Art Motion Passes
Heyo! The billboard thing passed. Denzil's motion to remove it from budget failed miserably 13/32. Apparently Mammoliti is going to announce a new arts policy next week too.... the calls got to him I guess. He said that the billboard tax is crumbs for the arts and they deserved better in being a meaningful part of the city (wtf! - how many people called and emailed him anyway? Great job!)
This is my read on things...
(1) Props & Thank You ListHoward Moscoe - literally brought magic art wand and waved it around: email@example.com / 416-392-4027Pam McConnell - advocated extremely well: firstname.lastname@example.org / 416-392-7916Shelley Carroll - took it forward: email@example.com / 416-392-4038+ the other 30 councillors in favour!
(2) Councillors Against that Could be Persuaded OtherwiseBill Saundercook (13 Parkdale-High Park) / firstname.lastname@example.org / 416-392-4072 (tons of artists in his ward)Brian Ashton (36 Scarborough Southwest) / email@example.com / 416-392-4052David Shiner (24 Willowdale) / firstname.lastname@example.org / 416-395-6413 John Parker (26 Don Valley West) / email@example.com / 416-392-0215 (requested that billboard funds go to staff pay increases)Karen Stintz (16 Eglinton-Lawrence) / firstname.lastname@example.org / 416-392-4090 (previously said that "Notionally everyone agrees that taxes need to be paid and even the sign industry wants to contribute to the beautification of the city")
The vote count sinking Denzil's Motion to Remove Shelley's Motion, April 15th (2.1) Email to Modify and Send to Above 'Councillors to Be Persuaded'
Dear Councillior X I was disappointed to see you vote against the billboard tax finally going to art and Council realizing its commitment to the Culture Plan by increasing Toronto's per-capita spending to competitive level. Please understand that enhancement of public spaces with art is, by its nature -- for all of Toronto's citizens, not only for artists as some have misunderstood. Like any industry, the arts need ongoing investment to project on the world stage and innovate. The ROI is good, please check out this McKinsey & Co report titled: 'A Business Case for Investment in the Arts': http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bcbf/CBAC.ppt (900kb PPT). Add to that, EKOS Research found that 80% of Torontonians believe that government investments in arts and culture to enhance public spaces improve the local economy. The benefits of investment as far as reducing crime have also been well documented. According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, "Low income neighbourhoods with higher cultural participationare four times more likely than average to have low delinquency rates. Neighbourhoods with an active arts scene are nearly three times more likely to see their poverty rates decline and their population increase." I realize that you might think that Toronto can't focus on an 'extra' like the arts right now with the projected budget problems. However, please understand that the city never has enough. Faced with this problem, Torontonians created and supported a source of funds (the Billboard Tax) to fund the art and city beautification projects they wanted in their neighbourhoods. The city would not even have the funds without the citizen-led effort and the allotment is less than 0.09% of the budget next year. The residents of your ward will get no visible benefit if it goes to general use. At the end of the day this is about more than funding the arts - it's about art and city beautification projects that can provide jobs, strengthen communities, engage youth, adults and seniors, reduce crime, increase tourism, create hope and develop local pride. Could you please let me know why you voted this way on April 15th? I know you want to build a more inclusive and economically vibrant Toronto. Please don't stand in the way of this citizen-led initiative to improve our city when the report comes back to council. Yours, X
Dear Councillior X
I was disappointed to see you vote against the billboard tax finally going to art and Council realizing its commitment to the Culture Plan by increasing Toronto's per-capita spending to competitive level.
Please understand that enhancement of public spaces with art is, by its nature -- for all of Toronto's citizens, not only for artists as some have misunderstood. Like any industry, the arts need ongoing investment to project on the world stage and innovate. The ROI is good, please check out this McKinsey & Co report titled: 'A Business Case for Investment in the Arts': http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bcbf/CBAC.ppt (900kb PPT). Add to that, EKOS Research found that 80% of Torontonians believe that government investments in arts and culture to enhance public spaces improve the local economy. The benefits of investment as far as reducing crime have also been well documented. According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, "Low income neighbourhoods with higher cultural participationare four times more likely than average to have low delinquency rates. Neighbourhoods with an active arts scene are nearly three times more likely to see their poverty rates decline and their population increase."
I realize that you might think that Toronto can't focus on an 'extra' like the arts right now with the projected budget problems. However, please understand that the city never has enough. Faced with this problem, Torontonians created and supported a source of funds (the Billboard Tax) to fund the art and city beautification projects they wanted in their neighbourhoods. The city would not even have the funds without the citizen-led effort and the allotment is less than 0.09% of the budget next year. The residents of your ward will get no visible benefit if it goes to general use.
At the end of the day this is about more than funding the arts - it's about art and city beautification projects that can provide jobs, strengthen communities, engage youth, adults and seniors, reduce crime, increase tourism, create hope and develop local pride. Could you please let me know why you voted this way on April 15th? I know you want to build a more inclusive and economically vibrant Toronto. Please don't stand in the way of this citizen-led initiative to improve our city when the report comes back to council.
(3) Other AgainstDoug Holyday (3 Etobicoke Centre) Cliff Jenkins (25 Don Valley West) Denzil Minnan-Wong (34 Don Valley East) Case Ootes (29 Toronto-Danforth) Frances Nunziata (11 York South-Weston) Mike Del Grande (39 Scarborough-Agincourt)
Thanks Everyone! Also if you get a chance check out: http://publictransitcoalition.ca/ for a rally on Wednesday April 21st, 6pm in Council Chambers concerning the recent Provincial cuts.
DevonBeautifulCity.ca Denzil's Failed Motion to Remove Shelley's Motion, April 15 2010- cr 33 - Community ReleaseApril 8, 2010Octopus Wrestling at City Hall, Progress! - Quotes from Smitherman, Carroll, Fletcher, Moscoe, Davis, Pantalone, Mihevc, Hopkinson.. --> Info following quotes about yesterdays' 11/1 billboard-tax-for-art win at Exec. // QUOTES OF SUPPORT // "This will open the door to stronger funding for the arts - this not a Kafka novel, I promise. Keep at it and elect arts friendly city builders to council."Councillor Mihevc "At the first debate in the Mayor's race, I called for funds generated by the billboard tax to be put to use enhancing our arts and culture sector and improving the public realm. It's good to see that the city is finally fulfilling the pledge they made to Beautiful City."George Smitherman, Mayoral Candidate "We have kick-started the culture plan!"Councillor Janet Davis "I am 1000 percent behind the billboard tax going to art."Councillor Joe Pantalone, Mayoral Candidate "Arts and cultural organizations have a huge economic impact on cities. They stimulate creativity and create vital communities that generate jobs and revenues. They are employers, producers and key promoters of our city. Arts and cultural organizations have a crucial impact on our economy. But they also deepen our understanding of the human spirit, extending our capacity to understand others and imagine how to create a better world. Our municipal government must set the stage of support for our arts and cultural organizations. I believe the billboard tax collected should be applied to supporting arts and cultural organizations in Toronto."Sarah Thompson, Mayoral Candidate"Most of council made a commitment that the money from the tax on the billboards that are scarring our city should go to beautification of the city through the arts. As a former art teacher, I am strongly in favour of the funds going to art for young people in priority neighborhoods. Cultural participation is an essential part of developing well rounded individuals and thus healthy, safer and more vibrant communities in general." Councillor Moscoe "Toronto Arts Council congratulates Executive Committee, and in particular Budget Chief Shelley Carroll, for today's ringing endorsement of Toronto's arts community. Everyone with Beautiful City Alliance who has worked so hard to put the arts at the forefront of the city agenda deserves a big vote of thanks." Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director TAC "It's a great day for the arts sector and Toronto's economy. The arts are a $96 billion industry that employs 86,000 people. In 2003, City Council adopted the Culture Plan and I would like to see us live up to our obligation to meet the goals laid out in that plan. Utilizing the new revenue stream created by the Billboard Tax to increase our investment in this key sector will provide organizations like the Toronto Arts Council with the resources they need to enhance their support of artists and arts activities in every discipline and every neighbourhood." Councillor Paula Fletcher "Time is running out. Council must finish the work it started in 2003. The Creative City Culture Plan expands municipal support for arts and culture to the outer edges of our city limits and touches every child, youth and senior citizen if we succeed!"Councillor Shelley Carroll
// INFO //A motion by Shelley Carroll was passed 11/1 that directed staff to report back on implementing the Culture Plan including bringing per capita spending up to 25 dollars per person (in-line with the investment made by comparable cities across North America) within the context of the new revenue from the billboard tax. The item is to be brought forward within this mandate but still needs to pass council (April 15/16). Hats-off and thank you to the following councillors who made an extra effort in speaking up and winning the day: Paula Fletcher, Pam McConnell, Joe Pantalone, Shelley Carroll and especially Howard Moscoe. If you feel like thanking them, the numbers are here. Also thank you to the councillors and staff who did not speak up but were working the back channels. Barbs and phone calls to mayoral canditate Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7 York West / email@example.com / 416-395-6401) for being the only councillor on Exec. against the motion and divisively trying to pit the needs of senior citizens against a city building initiative by young people. Give him a ring or email and let how you feel about using the arts as a punching bag to win votes in the upcoming election. Ask your grandma (or anyone over 65) to give his ear a pull too and tell him this is not how seniors in this city want to be represented. Good stuff people and remember -- we're going into an election, let's keep the arts and vibrant communities a priority issue! Thank youBeautifulCity.ca
// RECENT MEDIA //Public-space advocates point out that the city would not even have the extra money from the billboard tax if it wasn't for arts groups proposing and pushing for it. "The city has always been broke and that's why we came up with this idea as a way to fund the kind of improvements that we wanted," Devon Ostrom, of beautifulcity.ca."The perpetual crisis is the way to suck the air out of the debate and I don't think anyone should fall for it. I think there are structural problems that the city needs to address, but I don't think that should ever come at the expense of [citizen led] city building." Mr. Ostrom pointed to the economic impacts of the arts community and pointed to a study that found that for every one dollar spent on arts, the city gets eight back.Natalie Alcoba, "City to study increase in arts funding" National Post Thursday, April 08, 2010 http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/toronto/story.html?id=2776120#ixzz0kWxkbR3f
"Detractors think arts funding is beneficial only to downtowners, but the money would actually help spur creativity throughout the city, said Councillor Paula Fletcher. The arts employ some 86,000 people and make a huge contribution to the city's economy, she said. "This is not a handout," she added. "This is a prudent investment in a strategic piece of Toronto's economy."Paul Moloney, "Artists left starving for billboard bucks" Toronto Star, April 07, 2010 http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/791804--artists-left-starving-for-billboard-bucks
Devon Ostrom, the leader of the Beautiful City campaign, said he would be happy to see the billboard cash help fulfill that target, so long as some of the money goes to youth and "marginalized" communities creating art in public spaces. Still, he said it is unfortunate Torontonians won't see the tangible benefits of the billboard tax until after the election. "I don't see why Toronto needs to settle for mediocrity," he said.Kelly Grant, "Budget chief wants revenue from new billboard tax to support the arts" Globe and Mail, April 07, 2010 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/budget-chief-wants-revenue-from-new-billboard-tax-to-support-the-arts/article1525791/
The BeautifulCity.ca Alliance, co-founded by Devon Ostrom, is an example of nine years of advocacy and mobilization that brought over 300 members of the arts community to council chambers in December 2009. BeautifulCity.ca is a predominantly youth led alliance of 60 organizations who first introduced a tax on billboards in 2001 as a means of beautifying Toronto and giving voice to high-need communities. They believe that vibrant public spaces enhance property values and increase traffic for small businesses, boost civic pride and tourism, build community cohesion and give something highly visible back to residents. The efforts of the group resulted in over 4,500 people signing a petition in support of a billboard tax (with the revenues going to support arts and culture), a 2007 Environics and 2009 EKOS poll that demonstrated that seven out of 10 Torontonians were in favour of the tax as well as hundreds of people calling their local councillors and becoming civically engaged. Shahina Sayani, "Billboard tax should go to the arts" My City / The Star, April 07, 2010 http://thestar.blogs.com/yourcitymycity/2010/04/citizen-participation.html
Instead, she put forward a motion asking staff to look at ways to use the new billboard tax as a justification for increased arts funding. The move was an attempt to mollify arts activists, who supported the billboard tax hoping it would provide guaranteed funding to the arts. Carroll made it clear she wasn't prepared to go quite that far. "I'm not directing that exact dollars in the billboard tax go towards the arts - just to report back on how we might fund the arts," she said. "In fact, we've dragged our heels for so long now it will take more than the billboard revenue to catch up. We're down at $18 per capita on arts spending - in Montreal, the city is at $25 per capita." Devon Ostrom of the arts group beautifulcity.ca was cautiously optimistic following Carroll's motion. "I think they're going in the right direction; it's a matter of making sure they keep going in the right direction," he said.David Nickel, "Mayoral politics played out as committee discusses budget," April 7 2010http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/cityhall/article/661439
Here's some of what's at stake:•Whether the visual pollution created by billboards will be counteracted by arts funding for the public sphere, or whether a billboard tax becomes like parking tickets and stripper licenses a new revenue stream for the city's tax base.•Whether or not the original intent of the tax as presented to Council, recommended by City Staff, and supported by Torontonians by a 5-1 margin in a recent EKOS poll is actually reflected in the budget.Michael Wheeler, "It's a huge week for arts funding in Toronto" April 9, 2009http://praxistheatre.com/2010/04/its-a-huge-week-for-arts-funding-in-toronto/comment-page-1/#comment-2676// NOTES ON THE LAWSUIT FILED BY OMAC AND PATTISON //For Rami of illegalsigns.ca's analysis, check out http://illegalsigns.ca/2010/04/07/city-hit-with-two-lawsuits-over-billboard-tax/
Regarding the claim of an indirect tax, at the PGM meeting in November 2009 where the industry could depute every single part of the industry from fabricators, to designers, to industry associations, to operators, to property owners and everyone in-between seemed to contradict each other by saying that the tax would ultimately fall on them. Some also said the consumer: http://torontoist.com/2009/12/billboard_companies_protest_their_regulationon_illegal_billboards.php So who is it then?
At an ethical level, every other form of advertising subsidizes some sort of educational or enjoyable content in exchange for attention. (e.g. TV = 25% ads for 75% content, newspapers about 50/50). Billboard operators don't have to do that as people don't have a choice in viewing their messages. They are doing virtually nothing to support enjoyable or educational content. As advertisers they have broken the contract with the public. In fact, it could be inferred that industry is making record profits (up 11-19% in 2008) undermining the viability of other, democratic / participative / content supporting media outlets in providing "the lowest cost per thousand impressions of any media" and passing the full cost onto public spaces.
We should look at public spaces as a conversation, and in a conversation it is always the responsibility of the strongest voice to ensure the smallest voices are heard.- cr 32 -
LNB Ep 8 - Devon Ostrum - Beautiful City Alliance from Late Night in the Bedroom on Vimeo.
Community ReleaseMarch 17, 2010
// GOOD NEWS, KEEP SHAKING TREE ! //Budget Committee has approved an increase to the Community Partnerships and Investments Program "in recognition of the work on the billboard tax." This is great as it will provide almost a million additional dollars for community led programming including everything from food programs for high-need kids to art in major institutions every year! The bad news is that it is a bit short of the 2.5 million left from the billboard tax for art projections this year and 9 million next. Additionally, not targeted to enhancing public spaces with art as the increase is essentially a 2% cost of living / inflationary adjustment to existing programs. For example it presently means only about 300K will go directly to Toronto's hundreds of arts organizations. Some have said that the arts avoided a 5% cut in general -- but that is a bit silly in the context of a 100 million dollar surplus and that the billboard tax for art is more than 5% of arts funding - find other arguments here: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/bcarguments.pdf
However! Budget Chief Shelley Carroll also stated that there will be a "much improved plan" going forward to specifically benefit the arts at the April 7th Executive meeting (Committee Room 1, 9:30am - please save the date / RSVP at the facebook group here: http://tinyurl.com/yf233sn) Our position is that substantial resources need accompany the go-forward plan this year -- conditions are good and positive precedent needs to be set in order for the policy to survive the election.There is no good reason settle on mediocrity...please help make this point via the 2 minute action below.
// 2 MINUTE ACTION ! //The calls and emails are working. We need to do a round of really polite calls and emails to the Mayor, Pants and Shelley urging them to put the resources behind the billboard tax for art this year. Please call in (or email separately) something like the below. If possible, please reword, put a personal story and challenge if emailed back.
Mayor Miller - 416-397-2489 / firstname.lastname@example.org Councillor Shelley Carroll - 416-392-4038 / email@example.com Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone - 416-392-4009 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mayor Miller:Dear Councillor Carroll:Dear Councillor Pantalone: Thank you for moving forward on the billboard tax for enhancing public spaces with art. It is going to do amazing things for Toronto: vibrant public spaces enhance property values and increase traffic for small businesses; they boost civic pride and tourism, build community cohesion and give something highly visible back to residents. With the surplus, the city has the resources to accomplish the commitments of the Culture Plan and Agenda for Prosperity, ensure marginalized youth have a voice and thus ownership in their communities and support hundreds of beautification projects across every ward. Let's move this dream and opportunity for building a better city one big step forward and into reality. I urge you to do something bold and innovative. There is no good reason to settle on mediocrity with this issue. Significant resources need to be allotted this year to set a positive precedent for next year. Please think of all the community enhancing projects that could happen this summer and the tremendous amount of goodwill that will be generated. Thank you for your time,your name
Dear Mayor Miller:Dear Councillor Carroll:Dear Councillor Pantalone:
Thank you for moving forward on the billboard tax for enhancing public spaces with art. It is going to do amazing things for Toronto: vibrant public spaces enhance property values and increase traffic for small businesses; they boost civic pride and tourism, build community cohesion and give something highly visible back to residents. With the surplus, the city has the resources to accomplish the commitments of the Culture Plan and Agenda for Prosperity, ensure marginalized youth have a voice and thus ownership in their communities and support hundreds of beautification projects across every ward.
Let's move this dream and opportunity for building a better city one big step forward and into reality. I urge you to do something bold and innovative. There is no good reason to settle on mediocrity with this issue. Significant resources need to be allotted this year to set a positive precedent for next year. Please think of all the community enhancing projects that could happen this summer and the tremendous amount of goodwill that will be generated.
Thank you for your time,your name
>> BONUS ADD-ON - FOLD IN A LITTLE HISTORYIf you feel like getting creative with your pitch, please attach one or more of the images to fold a bit of history back into the process. Click the links for full sized or download the entire pack here: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/history.zip Nov. 2001 - Culture Plan Youth Consultation Summary http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/time/consult.jpgOct. 2007 – Presentation to Council: New Taxation Measures: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/time/tocouncil.jpgOct. 2009 – Staff Report, Results from Public Consultations: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/time/publicconsult.jpgOct. 2009 – City Press Release http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/time/pressrelease.jpgDec. 2009 - EKOS Poll http://www.beautifulcity.ca/ekos.pdf Dec. 2009 – Staff Presentation to Council: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/time/presentation2.jpg Dec. 2009 - Post-vote Inside Toronto Article: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/time/insideTO.jpg Feb. 2010 – NRU Article http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/time/NRU-2010.jpg Sample: Culture Plan Youth Consultation Summary, Nov. 2001>> Please Share / Spread the Word: http://tinyurl.com/yf233sn
March 10, 2010 Attention News Editors Surplus Breathes Life into Budget: Billboard Tax for Art Resurrected >> Unexpected surplus creates an excellent opportunity for Council to follow through on their commitment to youth arts and beautification - investing in a better future for Toronto <<Toronto, ON // Last week citizens, young people and mayoral candidates gathered at the „InVoice‟ Town Hall (photos: http://tinyurl.com/yz28kob ) and were told, despite City Councillor's desire to put funds raised through the billboard tax toward enhancing public spaces with art, the money was simply not available in the budget. The Mayoral announcement of a 100 million dollar surplus in the City's budget may change all that - giving Council a chance to set things straight."An amazing opportunity has opened up for the Budget Committee to follow through on their expressed support for investment in our public spaces and to act with the strong citizen engagement process that brought these funds to the table," states Devon Ostrom, a co-founder of BeautifulCity.ca. Ostrom notes that despite overwhelming support for a billboard tax to fund city arts and beautification projects, many were beginning to feel that their energy, limited resources and enthusiasm had been used to merely get money from the billboard industry. "That‟s not what this is about," he explained, "it's about diversifying access to expression in public spaces, creating opportunities for community engagement and improving how our city looks." Now with an unexpected surplus on the table it looks like Council has the capacity to meet those goals.What could this do for Toronto? - Vibrant public spaces enhance property values and increase traffic for small businesses; they boost civic pride and tourism, build community cohesion and give something back to residents. - Strategic investment is an important part of long-term fiscal stability. A McKinsey and Co. study in 2006 found that "for every 1 dollar of public arts funding in a regional economy, 8 are generated." - Toronto is falling behind other cities in relative cultural spending: according to the Martin Prosperity Institute after inflation, cultural funding has been stagnant since 1991 and average cities around the country have expanded their cultural expenditures by more than 4 times as much as Toronto, putting the city on the low end of competitive growth. - According to EKOS Research, 80% of Torontonians think that government investment in the arts in public spaces improves the local economy and only 18% support the funds going to general revenue.History BeautifulCity.ca is a youth led alliance of 60 organizations who first introduced the tax in 2001 as a means of beautifying Toronto and giving voice to high-need communities. The proposal is backed by three rounds of public opinion polls EKOS (2009) Environics (2007) and Pollara (2005) and a 4667 person petition. The tax as a means to enhance public spaces with art was council's original direction to staff and repeated in city press releases, over 45 times in council chambers, two rounds of public consultations and multiple staff presentations (see archive and polls here: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bcbf.asp?id=29 ).Media InquiriesDevon Ostrom email@example.com +16472674221Julia Che - Agents of Change Julia@beautifulcity.ca +14169281978- xiii-
Mike Smith, The Battle Over Beautification, Now Magazine, March 4,Canadian Business / CNW
Feb 24 2010BeautifulCity.ca Town Hall: InVoice6:30pm March 1st, Committee Room #2, City Hall ** Featuring: Live painting by Elicser Elliot, Lexr and Celo // Music by Tanika Charles and Deejay L'Oqenz **
INFOJoin city builders, young people, artists, academics, councillors and mayoral candidates to determine positive steps forward for BeautifulCity.ca and learn about how to make the city budget process work for you. Open discussion will follow concerning the value of building vibrant and democratic public spaces. Moderated by: Ravi Jain (WhyNot Theatre, ArtsVote), Sabra Ripley (Community Health Advocate, HoP, B-girl) and Che Kothari (Manifesto Community Projects.) BACKGROUNDThe billboard tax has been passed but zero new money has been invested in beautifying or democratizing access to public spaces with art in the 2010 Budget. This goes against highly favourable public opinion polls by EKOS (2009) Environics (2007) and Pollara (2005) and a 4500 person petition, 60 endorsements by organizations and reams of city plans to build a successful Toronto for the long-term. City councillors from across the political spectrum have also been very supportive of a billboard tax to fund art in committee, council and the press. Similarly, public consultations, staff and consultant's reports stated that the purpose of the tax was to support arts and city beautification projects. We are not really sure what happened, however the budget has not passed yet. It's time to get a bit pissed -- then get smart and help correct this mistake by coming to the town hall. It worked to get the tax. It might just work to take it back!
TAKE ACTIONJoin / Invite / Spread the word via Facebook Page:http://tinyurl.com/yzwsno7E-flyer:http://bit.ly/cv1RxE MORE INFO & COUNCIL VIDEOhttp://www.beautifulcity.ca
GUEST ARTIST LINKShttp://www.myspace.com/tanikacharles http://www.loqenz.com http://www.elicser.com http://www.alexahatanaka.com http://loganmiller.carbonmade.com MODERATOR LINKShttp://www.theatrewhynot.org http://www.houseofpaint.ca http://www.artsvotetoronto.ca http:///www.themanifesto.caDOCUMENTATION BYhttp://www.latenightinthebedroom.com http://www.meghanj.caSUPPORT PROVIDED BYhttp://www.thetyc.ca http://www.themanifesto.ca http://www.beautifulcity.ca
** Please forward and spread the word. See you on Monday! **Adriana Alarcón, Art Vs Brawn, Praxis, Feb 22 2010Feb 17, 2010, TorontoFor Immediate Release City Hall Desk > Arts Desk
Budget Process: BeautifulCity.ca Set to 'InVoice' City Hall >> Zero new money in budget for enhancing public spaces with art // BeautifulCity.ca Town Hall: 'InVoice' March 1st 6:30pm City Hall, Committee Room #2 // View video of previous town hall here: http://vimeo.com/5639645 <<Toronto, Canada // After unanimous endorsement by the PGM Committee followed by a 29/12 win at Council in Dec. 2009 (drastically improving regulation of billboards) the final decision on the billboard tax for art has been set to occur at some point during the budget process. The new tax was justified as going to enhanced funding for art in public spaces in staff and consultant reports, public consultations, city press releases, over 45 times in Council and a wide variety of media outlets after.
In yesterday's Staff Recommended 2010 Operating Budget, zero new money has been allotted to enhancing public spaces with art. The rationale is that the arts avoided a 5% cut in general. However, the billboard tax revenues are significantly more than 5% of the present arts budget. It is also undemocratic (i.e. without public consultation, council direction or a vote) to assume that a 5% cut could have been automatically applied to some of the city's most popular, already anemic and least resource intensive programs. Additionally, 'the arts in general' is a different than enhancing public spaces with arts (Executive Committee's original direction and the basis that the tax was sold to the public in consultations.)
A large number Councillors stated their support for enhancing public spaces with art through the new tax. Budget Chief and Toronto's Official Youth Advocate, Councillor Shelley Carroll moved the billboard tax revenues to the operating budget process as a safeguard to effectively direct the funds. In council she repeatedly underscored the need to follow-though on the city's commitment to the Agenda for Prosperity and Culture Plan and was reported in Inside Toronto as promising that the funds would be targeted toward to the arts. Mayor Miller was also recorded as saying that he would "to use the new revenues to achieve the goals of our cultural plan," In council, Councillor Rae stated "I am committed, deeply to the funds, going to, as the Hemson report suggested into the public realm and to the arts." Spacing reported that "every single member of Budget Committee has expressed their support for a billboard tax that funds arts and public realm enhancements." BeautifulCity.ca, understands the budget pressures. We have proposed a solution in our policy document and look forward to working with these councillors to ensure that funding dedicated to enhancing public spaces with art.
Quick Facts1. According to EKOS Research, only 18% of Torontonians are supportive of a billboard tax with the funds going into general revenue.2. Over 4500 people have signed a petition of support and over 60 organizations have endorsed BeautifulCity.ca3. The city would not even have the tax without the arts community coming up with the idea and pushing it through for the past 8 years.4. The revenue is only 0.04% of the budget this year, 0.09% of next – Torontonians will get no visible benefit if it goes to increasing funding for entrenched interests – but if it goes to art in public spaces the effect will be revolutionary in supporting youth arts programs and creating a more vibrant city.5. According to EKOS Research, 80% of Torontonians think that government investment in the arts in public spaces improves the local economy. 6. After inflation, cultural funding has been stagnant since 1991 and most artists live below the poverty line and also work non-arts jobs.7. According to the Martin Prosperity Institute average cities around the country have expanded their cultural expenditures by more than 4 times as much as Toronto, putting the city on the low end of competitive growth. 8. Fiscal stability should include strategic investment: a McKinsey and Co. study in 2006 found that "for every 1 dollar of public arts funding in a regional economy, 8 are generated."9. Vibrant public spaces enhance property values, boost tourism, give something visible back to residents and will help build the city for the long-term.
Call to Action- Call your city councillor and ask them to support the funds going to enhancing public spaces in accordance to how the tax was conceived and sold to the public.- Register your arts, public space or arts related organizations to depute at Budget Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name, title, deputation subject and address for March 1st.- Show your support at the BeautifulCity.ca Town Hall: 'InVoice,' on March 1st 6:30pm in Committee Room 2 at City Hall.
ResourcesWatch a Recap Video of PGM & Council:http://www.beautifulcity.caDownload Position Paper (including transcripts, EKOS Poll):http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/BC-BudgetProcess.pdf Register for Town Hall Updates:http://tinyurl.com/yzwsno7 Download and pass on this PDFhttp://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/BC-PR11.pdf Media Inquiries Devon Ostromdevon@beautifulcity.ca +16472674221
Julia Che Agents of ChangeJulia@beautifulcity.ca +14169281978 Staff Writer, 'Sign Bylaw Revenue,' NRU - City of Toronto Edition, Feb. 12 2010 (pdf)
Feb. 3, 2010New Policy Doc - Released for Public ReviewRecommendation for Dedication of Billboard Tax Revenue through the Budget Processhttp://www.beautifulcity.ca/bc/BC-BudgetProcess.pdf (1 mb)Media Excerpts - To Jan 20, 2010"The new Sign Regulation and Revenue Strategy also recommends the implementation of a Third-Party Sign Tax, under the authority of Section 267 of the City of Toronto Act, to support the administration and enforcement of the new Sign Bylaw, as well as city beautification and ongoing investment in arts and culture in response to City Council's direction of October 2007"City Press Release, October 28, 2009
"Arts and public space activists, meanwhile, remained optimistic despite the fact council offered no assurance the approximately $9 million of revenue would go toward the arts. Council passed a motion from Budget Committee Chair Shelley Carroll asking the disposition of the tax revenues go to the budget committee, which she promised would be targeted toward the arts…Mayor David Miller supported the bylaw and said arts organizations can rest easy."David Nickle, "City billboards will be under one bylaw, council approve," Inside Toronto, Dec. 8, 2009
"2009 - Visually, the story of Beautifulcity.ca would make a good musical. On one side of the stage, you'd have a group of young artists, photographers, theatre actors and producers singing about evil billboards and, on the other side, dancing lobbyists and corporate executives wearing suits and cardboard cut-outs of advertisements. This scene has played out, minus the theatrical flair, at City Hall over the past few months. The culmination of an almost eight-year campaign to get the city to tax billboards and use the money to fund public art, the group of artists behind Beautifulcity.ca collected more than 4,500 signatures on a petition and garnered the support of more than 50 organizations including the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Elementary Teachers of Toronto. On Dec. 6, city council approved a new billboard tax that is expected to generate $10.4-million a year." Maryam Siddiqi "Out with the aughts: The decade in which Torontonians became more engaged with their city" National Post Dec 24, 2009
"With little but an imperative to act, a willingness to collaborate, and the long-suffering of an ascetic, this determined group of young people were able to establish some cultural sustainability within the city by successfully petitioning council for a new tax on billboards, with a percentage of the monies generated going to a fund for city beautification through local arts. The billboard tax passed a day or so ago, at $10.4 million in revenue annually along with the new bylaw!"Kwende Kefentse, "Congrads to a BeautifulCity.ca," Creative Class, Dec 10
"In any case, the city looks to create about $9 million in revenue for beautification and cultural projects — and that's after they've accounted for the 19-member billboard-enforcement team."Chris Bilton, "Billboard-tax bylaw passed – finally!" EyeWeekly Dec. 7, 2009
While Miller offered his assurances the tax will be spent on city beautification projects, others disagreed. "This money's not going to the arts. You know it's not going to the arts. Everyone in this room knows it's not going to the arts," argued Rob Ford, claiming the revenues instead would be swallowed up by the city's burgeoning operating budget. "The arts and culture people who have been working hard thinking they're getting this money -- you're not getting this money."Bryn Weese, The Writing's on the Wall, Sun Media, Dec. 8 2009
"Part of that money is expected to be used to pay for arts programs in the city. City staff, Mayor David Miller and artist advocacy groups all welcomed the move. Devon Ostrom, who is part of a group called beautifulcity.ca, took up the cause to introduce the tax as a means to raise money for public art and improve the city's visual landscape. He said council's decision to support the tax is a major win. "Most other forms of advertising, they give something back in exchange of attention," he told CBC News, ""If you look at TV, you get 45 minutes of content for 15 minutes of advertising. With magazines, it's about 50-50, and with newspapers it's the same." But that rule doesn't apply to billboards a wrong that the new law rectifies, he said"Staff Writer, "Toronto billboard tax approved," CBC News, Monday Dec 7, 2009
"I'm confident it's going to go to the arts because the budget committee has the moral responsibility at this point," he said. "The tax wouldn't exist without the arts community coming forward and pushing for it, or even inventing it in the first place." But Councillor Kyle Rae, who sits on the budget committee, warned he can't offer guarantees. "I can't give them that because council is supreme, and council waffles and prevaricates and changes its mind whenever the wind blows in another direction," said Rae (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale). Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul's) was more reassuring. He said the city was simply following normal procedure by routing the revenue through the budget process."Torstar News Service, "City OK's billboard tax , fraction of money may go towards arts," Metro News, Dec 8, 2009
"After a long campaign by public space activists, the City of Toronto passed a tax on billboards. The CBC reported that the new tax is expected to raise $10.4 million, part of which will pay for arts programs in the city. The tax will come into effect in April 2010."Toronto Media Co-op, "Toronto Month in Review – December," Toronto Media Co-op, Dec 31 2009
"About $1.4-million of the money the tax generates will go to covering the cost of enforcement, the rest into the city coffers to be allocated during the budget process. Council decided not to immediately commit the money to arts programs, but activists said yesterday they're confident that is where it will end up."Natalie Alcova, "City Council approves billboard tax, more user fees," National Post / Global TV Dec 8. 2009
"Council took a "fair and reasonable path" in controlling the way private companies use public spaces, while ensuring a portion of their profits go back to Torontonians, Mayor David Miller said after the vote. The changes are a victory for community organizations that have lobbied for a billboard tax for years, arguing that those profiting off the city's public space should give a little back. Their original desire to have the money earmarked for public art has been postponed until the city hashes out its budget in the coming months."Anna Mehler Paperny, "Toronto passes sweeping new billboard rules," Globe and Mail, Dec 8"Ad nausum: The advertising Industry goes postal over a billboard tax that's expected to subsidize public art programs."Staff Writer "The Temperature" Toronto Life, Feb 2010
VOTEWATCH / VICTORY – Tax Passed 29/12 at 10.4 Million, Next Stop Budget Committee
HOW IT WENT DOWNThe billboard tax passed at $10.4 million in revenue annually along with a new and very strong bylaw governing billboards. This massive step forward means that thousands of arts projects will eventually be funded and that many of the problems associated with excessive and illegal billboard signage are finally being addressed. We are in support of Councillor Shelley Carroll's motion to deal with the disbursement of funds in the 2010 Budget Process. She has made a firm commitment that it will go to city beautification through the arts and in no way wants her motion to be perceived as taking the money away. We trust that she will keep her word. It needed to be done this way to get it through Council at the amount necessary to compensate Torontonians properly for use of public space and not have a bunch of councillors' personal agendas eat away at the allotment. To be short, it was the best way to get a winning vote.
That said, it must be mentioned that the majority of Torontonians are/were less likely to support this tax if it does not go to art (See Ekos Poll http://www.beautifulcity.ca/ekos.pdf ). Additionally, the allotment to art has also been a central part of how this tax has been sold to the public -- it's in almost all of the staff reports; Executive Committee, Planning and Growth Management Committee and independently commissioned research and press states that the funds will eventually go to arts. The councillors on the Budget Committee have all supported billboard tax revenue going to arts and city beautification in their statements to Beautiful City and also know that they would not have the new funds without the arts community thinking up the idea and ushering it through the system. Budget Committee now has the moral obligation to properly finish this process when they deliberate on the budget this winter.
We won it. Might not be how we wanted it in our wildest dreams but this is the next best thing! According to political veterans we ran an Obama-caliber campaign and proved that the arts have serious muscle in this town.
PARTY 2 - FRIDAY - 'HOUSEPAINT, PHASE 3: FIRESALE,' CLOSING RECEPTION 11:00AM-8:00PM @ 52 McCaul St. North of Queen West / FREE / Presented by Well and Good.The final public view of works that were once part of the first major exhibition of street art in Canada -- as well as the original installation at the former tent city site. Proceeds will go to outstanding costs, the successful implementation and monitoring of the billboard tax by BeautifulCity.ca. Housepaint artists included: Cant4, Case, Fauxreel, Royal, Dstrbo (HVW8), EGR, Elicser, Evoke, Specter, Starship (HVW8), Lease, and Other. Innovative and recognizable, the fire sale features works covered in the following media outlets: Canadian Art Magazine, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Azure, Inside Toronto, The Space Channel, 24 Hours, The Canadian Press, Art Daily, Toronto Living, The National Post and many-many more. We got bills to pay so no reasonable offer will be refused. Only 20 of the original 50 lots are left. View remaining works here: http://housepaint.ca/photos/housepaintcollection/40.html For sales info, contact email@example.com
PARTY 3 - FRIDAY - 'PETE ROCK'9pm @ Sound Academy / Dec. 11 / 19+ Event / Free w. RSVP Manifesto Holiday and Beautifulcity.ca Victory Party Part I.RSVP Here: http://themanifesto.ca/rsvp/peterock/
PARTY 4 - SATURDAY - 'THE MAIN INGREDIENT, FEAT. 45 KING'10 PM @ Revival & Stone Lounge / Dec. 12 / 19+ Event / Free w. RSVP Manifesto Holiday and Beautifulcity.ca Victory Party Part II.RSVP Here: http://themanifesto.ca/rsvp/mainingredient/ (Limited Free Spots)
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MondovilleThe Toronto ObserverT.Scenic America BlogCanoe Money (CNW)
Humber Et CeteraAttention Editors / Community Release Dec. 3 2009 Billboard Tax Vote Resumes Friday: Councillor's Motion Disrespects Majority of Torontonians >> Controversial motion by Councillor Norm Kelly guts staff recommendations and discounts public input: Tax halved, number of billboards allowed effectively doubled. Kelly also pushes for electronic billboards everywhere, closer to intersections, to be bigger and lax light pollution standards<< Voting on the billboard tax for art and enforcement is set to resume on Friday Dec. 4. (Estimated start time 10am). Currently on the floor is a controversial motion by Councillor Kelly that would:- Half the tax devoted to beautifying the city with arts and culture - after reducing the amount twice already.- Allow LED/electronic copy billboards in all neighbourhoods - trusting the industry not to use them as video boards.- Reducing the required distance of billboards to intersections from 30 to 6 meters - opening up hundreds of new billboard locations in suburban neighbourhoods and impacting driver safety. - Increasing the allowable height of all wall signs to a colossal 20 meters.- Reducing the lights-off provision - designed to reduce light pollution to protect the health of apartment dwellers and migrating birds.
The motion goes against staff recommendations, over 1000 public submissions, a 4500 strong petition as well as 7 out of 10 Torontonians who in an earlier Environics Poll supported "the city working to reduce the number of billboards in general."
BeautifulCity.ca encourages concerned residents to call their councillor and the mayor to let them know what they think about such measures. / RESOURCES /Kelly's Motion: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/KellyMotion1.pdf OMAC Circular: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/omacneeds.pdf Environics Poll: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bcbf/Environics.pdf EKOS Poll: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/ekos.pdf Economic Impact Study: http://tinyurl.com/ylcy5c8 'Why Art' http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bcbf/BC-WhyArts.pdf Watch on TV: http://www.rogerstv.com/option.asp?rid=16&lid=12&sid=1030
/ INQUIRES /Devon Ostromdevon@beautifulcity.ca 6472674221Julia CheAgents of Changejulia@beautifulcity.ca 4169281978 - xiii -
VOTEWATCH / FRIDAY, VERY LIKELY 10:00AM
Guardian Blog, UK (bottom of page)
TorontoistGlobe and MailGlobe and Mail
CityTVCanadian Business Online (CNW)SpacingSpacingNational Post
VOTEWATCH // DECISION DELAYED TILL TOMORROW AFTERNOON. STAND BY FOR DETAILS.
Media Advisory / Community ReleaseNovember 30, 2009Majority Supported Billboard Tax, Going to Vote on Dec. 1st at 9:30am Toronto, ON - The long awaited vote to put a tax on billboards with the funds going to art and enforcement is expected to begin at on Dec. 1 on 9:30am.
All eyes are on Council following the release of a new EKOS Research poll that found 70% of Torontonians support such a tax. The polling also shows that a clear majority are less likely to support the tax if it does not end up supporting the arts. Fully 80% of Torontonians also believe that government investments in arts and culture improve the local economy. The results are based on 700 respondents and are valid +/- 3.7 percentage points 19/20. View at: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/ekos.pdf
On Friday, The City of Toronto also released a report by Ryerson University economist Professor David Amborski, refuting many of the claims made by the billboard industry. The report concluded that the proposed billboard tax represents less than 7% of gross industry revenues, that the research methodology of OMAC's Altus Report was flawed and that the tax will not negatively impact the economy. View the report here: http://tinyurl.com/ylcy5c8
Beautifulcity.ca will also present a petition that includes over 4300 signatures in support for the billboard tax for art and enforcement. For comparison, this is over twice the number of names submitted against the Land Transfer Tax.
A post-vote event is planned for Dec. 1st at 9:00pm at 52 McCaul St.
Devon Ostromdevon@beautifulcity.ca647 267 4221
Julia CheAgents of Changejulia@beautifulcity.ca4169281978
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VOTE WATCH // BeautifulCity.ca Advisory // All Monday morning council shifts canceled. Do not attend. Next advisory at 11:15am Monday to confirm final time. Please stand by and keep calling your Councillors and the Mayor.
Also check out the post-vote event: 'Housepaint: Phase 3, Firesale'
Municipal DeskNov. 28 / 2009
New EKOS Poll Shows 70% Support Billboard Tax For Art And Enforcement
Toronto, ON. A new EKOS Research survey shows that a large majority of Toronto support the billboard tax for art in public spaces and by-law enforcement. This city building idea -- first proposed by BeautifulCity.ca in 2002 -- is finally being voted on during the Nov. 30 / Dec. 1 Council session. The polling also shows that a clear majority are less likely to support the tax if it does not end up supporting the arts. Fully 80% of Torontonians also believe that investments in arts and culture improve the local economy. The results are based on 700 respondents and are valid +/- 3.7 percentage points 19/20. The question formatting and results are available below or can be downloaded at: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/ekos.pdf
City's Independent Economic Analysis Released >> Billboard Tax Represents 7-8% of Gross Industry Revenues, Altus Report Unfounded and Tax Will Not Negatively Effect Economy << The City of Toronto has released an independent economic analysis of the proposed Billboard Tax, conducted by Professor David Amborski of Ryerson University. The economic analysis concludes that the proposed billboard tax represents "less than 7% (on average) of estimated annual gross revenue" for Toronto's billboard industry (pg.9). On page 22, Professor David Amborski takes to task OMAC's economic analysis of the tax conducted by Altus Group. David Amborski states that the Altus report, which OMAC has distributed to City Councillors, and which OMAC relies upon to conclude that the tax is unfair, "is not reflective of the actual third-party sign tax that is being proposed by the City." Furthermore, The Altus report "provides little empirical data, and relies almost exclusively on one source for the information used within the report." The report concludes: "It appears that the tax as proposed is within the rate that has been identified in the examples of charges and taxes presented earlier, capping out at 7-8% of gross annual revenues. There was no evidence that where these charges are in effect, that there have been any significant negative economic impacts." (pg.17)
Download the Report Here: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2009/cc/bgrd/sign/Appendix%20J.pdf
Beautifulcity.ca Petition Reaches Over 4000 Signatures >> Over 4000 people from every Toronto Ward have signed a petition supporting a tax on billboards to fund art in public spaces and better enforcement of billboard bylaws, to view a copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org << Inquires
Julia CheAgents of Changejulia@beautifulcity.ca 416 928 1978
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NOW Magazine, Nov 26, 2009
NEW POLICY DOC - NOV. 24New Policy Doc Released - Rationale to Keep Billboard Tax Revenues Alloted to Art in Public Spaces
Attn: Municipal Issues / Arts DeskToronto, November 5, 2009Download the press release here ( http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bcbf/BC-PR7-v2.pdf ) 180 KB CITY COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY ENDORSES NEW TAX AND LAW FOR BILLBOARDS
Toronto's new tax and regulatory regime for billboards overcame a major hurdle last night and will now be voted on by City Council at its next meeting. The unanimous vote at City Council's Planning and Growth Management Committee came more than seven years after the Beautiful City Alliance launched its campaign for a billboard tax for art and greater accountability and oversight of the outdoor advertising industry.
Devon Ostrom, a founder of the BeautifulCity.ca Alliance, was pleased with the committee's decision.
"The committee made the right decision last night because it embraced the vision of the vast majority of Torontonians who want Toronto to be a beautiful and creative city," said Ostrom. "We hope that City Council will see the wisdom in the committee's decision and give its approval without delay."
Rami Tabello, coordinator of IllegalSigns.ca and BeautifulCity.ca Alliance endorser, believes that Planning and Growth Management Committee sent a clear message to billboard companies.
"The Billboard Industry in Toronto has a culture of non-compliance with the law; that should come to an end with this by-law." said Tabello, a prominent outdoor advertising industry watchdog. "Between now and the next council meeting, we're going to be meeting with decision-makers to be sure each and every councillor understands the proposed tax is something the billboard industry brought upon themselves with their own outrageous conduct."
Toronto City Council will consider the new sign by-law and billboard tax for art at its November 30-December 1 meeting.
Free use, print quality images from Nov. 4th PGM: http://tinyurl.com/yz28kob Research and Polls: http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bcbf.asp?id=29
InquiriesDevon Ostromdevon@beautifulcity.ca 647 267 4221
Rami Tabello, email@example.com 822-3696
BEAUTIFULCITY.CA GOING TO PGM - NOV. 4th - 1:30PMDownload the press release here ( http://www.beautifulcity.ca/BC-PR5-draft.pdf ) 180 KB DownloadCheck out what Illegalsigns.ca is saying about the billboard industry trying to delay further here ( http://illegalsigns.ca )Download the brief, polls and other resources here: (http://www.beautifulcity.ca/bcbf.asp?id=29 ) The Globe and Mail
Voice of Toronto
Globe Investor (CNW)
TOWN HALL VIDEO - FIRST CUT
Beautifulcity.ca Town Hall - 1st Cut from BeautifulCity.ca on Vimeo.
DELAY - JUNE 2nd CANCELED
Weird and alarming but not necessarily bad news. We recently received a call that the billboard tax for art was yanked from the June 2 Executive Committee Meeting due to a problem in the City Solicitor's Office (the City's lawyers). The tax was good to go but there were problems with the by-law.
In light of this, please stop all calling and letter writing and save it for later. Please don't stop signing up to volunteer to work on swing wards/helping organize or writing articles about this.
Some detail about why this might have happened and how I see this impacting the campaign are below. But if you want to have a chance to ask questions, strategize for how to use the next three months or just vent about the delay, we'll be meeting on Saturday, May 30 at 4pm (#109, 358 Dufferin, RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org .) If that date looks familiar to you, it's because that was supposed to be a workshop for volunteers but that meeting has changed into the Bitching & Planning Meeting due to the circumstances. (The volunteer training session on Thursday, May 28th is postponed.)
With the housekeeping stuff done, there are a few trains of thought for why this happened. One is that there was a legal letter from the industry that caused an already conservative (not ideologically i.e. timid) solicitor to stop the process and ensure that the by-law was extremely strong and would survive a legal challenge. [Didn't we/they not know this all along though?] Still another belief is that City staff, despite doing their best, dropped the ball due to one of their managers being extremely sick. Despite a delay being exactly what the industry wants and needs right now, one should be wary of believing that their influence is responsible. In all likelihood, the reason for the delay is probably a combination of some or all of the theories outlined above.
Regardless, this is bad because:1. This will give the industry a chance to regain its composure and wage an even larger battle against the tax/by-law.2. We were really, really well organized and had a lineup of speakers for June 2nd that was going to knock the socks off of Executive Committee (damn).3. The billboard industry wants this time to slow things down and try and put through variances on signs that don't comply with existing by-laws. A moratorium on all new sign permits and variances will be necessary to respond to this so some of our attention will go toward working on that solution.4. Significant resources and time has been spent working things up to June 2nd, but not necessarily lost. This will largely depend on your willingness and enthusiasm to continue.5. There has been no significant assurance from the city staff, Mayor or Solicitor that they will not be subject to this kind of error or pressure again.
This is good because:1. Due to the huge amount of public support and some amazing staff we had the majority of Executive Committee locked down as in our favour for the vote. By more than a few insider estimations we were already doing victory laps. We can do this again but better now that we have a whole team of councillors and their offices onside. 2. We will have a lot more time to build the alliance – at the rate and type of endorsements we are receiving, there will be no problem reformulating our strategy and gearing up again. (However we will have to stop using 8.5x11 stock and switch to legal as we have run out of space for members -- for example the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, representing 11000 teachers in over 450 schools, voted yesterday to join the Alliance.)3. Beautifulcity.ca campaigners will have time to start doing dishes again and maybe spend some time in the sun.4. We have enough time to come back three times as strong and a lot more organized in hitting our targets for Council.5. The next time this comes to committee/council will be September/October, just in time for Manifesto 2009 – not to mention Nuit Blanche, so we'll have the chance to get thousands more people engaged in this BeautifulCity.ca!
We will be applying all the pressure we can to ensure that there are no further delays and that the issue is back on City Hall's agenda as soon as is possible. It looks like, in the worst case scenario September for Executive and October for Council. Please don't lose sight of the goal, stay in touch and keep on volunteering. See you at the meeting.
"Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Carrie Fisher
Beautifulcity.ca from BeautifulCity.ca on Vimeo.RECENT PRESS:http://www.publicadcampaign.com/2009/05/toronto-making-huge-strides.htmlhttp://www.rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/redeye/2009/04/billboard-fee-fund-public-art http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090508.R30SECOND08ART1904/TPStory/Business http://torontoist.com/2009/05/everything_you_ever_wanted_to_know.phphttp://www.nowtoronto.com/daily/story.cfm?content=169332 http://ideaschangeeverything.wordpress.com/index.php?s=beautifulcity.ca http://boywithnoname.com/2009/05/02/beautiful-city-vs-billboard-industry/ http://thecyberkrib.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/beautifulcityca-billboard-fees-to-fund-local-artist-programs/ http://www.4real.com/default.asp?tab=news http://www.1loveto.com/2009/05/05/beautiful-citytonight-at-city-hall/ http://www.canadanewswire.com/en/releases/archive/April2009/22/c4195.html http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/33068 http://newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/May2009/04/c8172.html http://www.formatmag.com/news/beautifulcityca-town-hall-may-5th-630-pm-at-toronto-city-hall/ http://michelle.kasprzak.ca/blog/archives/438 http://torontoist.com/2009/05/urban_planner_may_5_2009.php http://www.vimeo.com/4493190http://spacing.ca/wire/2009/05/01/event-town-hall-on-reining-in-the-billboard-industry-may-5/ http://www.1loveto.com/2009/04/21/beautiful-city/ http://www.blogto.com/arts/2009/04/ads_for_arts_sake/index.php http://www.nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm?content=169221 (scroll down to the poll)http://www.marketingmag.ca/english/news/media/article.jsp?content=20090423_143923_7528 http://www.examiner.com/x-6833-Omaha-Art-Community-Examiner~y2009m4d23-Arts-in-trouble-Try-billboard-tax-or-art-loans http://rabble.ca/whatsup/town-hall-get-city-council-increase-arts-funding http://www.globeinvestor.com/servlet/story/CNW.20090422.C4195/GIStory http://illegalsigns.ca/topics/city-hall-death-and-taxes/ http://www.canadianbusiness.com/markets/cnw/article.jsp?content=20090504_150502_2_cnw_cnw BEAUTIFULCITY.CA TOWN HALL – CITY HALL MAY 5TH 6:30 PMNo image? Too Small? Want something bigger or to print a poster: ( http://www.beautifulcity.ca/poster.pdf) 4M download
Would you support?
- A historic 53% increase to the annual municipal funding available to all artists, festivals and arts institutions?- And, close to $100 000.00 dollars for public realm improvement for each Toronto ward including projects such as greening every year?- As well, as over $300 000.00 annually for each of the 13 priority neighbourhoods to fund accessible youth arts programming?- Topped by hiring 17 dedicated officers to enforce the new billboard bylaws and collect fines?
Sound like a dream? It is…but Toronto City Council is voting on it anyway on June 2nd and early July. These numbers proposing potential usage are taken from a mid-range estimate of revenues from the billboard charge, currently being worked on by city staff. The Beautifulcity.ca / BCBF proposal would see revenues from this tax or fee on billboards dedicated to art in the public sphere.
You can make this future possible! Please attend the Town Hall to ask questions, find out more and show City Councillors and the media that there is serious weight behind this proposal. Toronto City Hall100 Queen St. West Tuesday May 5th Committee Room 2 (Second floor) 6:30-9 PM
Presented by Manifesto Community Projects, the Toronto Youth Cabinet, Youth Action Network, CYAN and the BCBF (Beautiful City Billboard Fee) Alliance as part of International Youth Week.Suggest possible agenda items regarding youth, art and public space for consideration at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=70651528738 Need this to Happen? Seven Easy Steps…
1. Find out more, circulate / sign the petition and volunteer:( http://www.beautifulcity.ca)2. Send examples, favourites or images of what 'art in the public sphere' / 'public art' means to you to:( email@example.com) Send jpgs at 800w x 600h pixels max please. Images will be projected during the town hall.3. Send City Staff a quick message saying that you 'support the idea of a dedicated tax on billboards for art'( firstname.lastname@example.org) Personalize it with a message of what art can do for Toronto!4. Call and invite your local Councillor, find out who at:( http://app.toronto.ca/wards/jsp/wards.jsp) Tell them you think 'a dedicated tax on billboards for art and enforcement is a [insert superlative!] idea' 5. Join the Alliance facebook group and invite your friends:( http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=4798915838&ref=ts)6. Write a piece or send the press release to your favourite journalist:( http://www.beautifulcity.ca/PressRelease_Beautifulcity_Town_Hall_May5.pdf)7. Attend the Town Hall on May 5th and please, please (please) forward this message to at least 7 people.ATTN Municipal Affairs / Arts DeskApril 22nd 2009 – Toronto, ON'Tax billboards for Art,' Say Hundreds of Artists and Activists Set to Rally at Toronto City Hall on May 5
On May 5th as part of International Youth Week, hundreds of young artists and organizers will rally at City Hall and discuss the BeautifulCity.ca campaign. Going to Executive Committee on June 2nd and City Council for decision in early July, this city building initiative would see the proceeds from the currently proposed billboard charge dedicated to art in the public sphere and enforcement of the City of Toronto's signage laws.
Once implemented, it would mean a historic increase to Toronto's arts budget: enough to more than double the numbers of artists receiving individual grants or, to fund hundreds of new arts projects across the city -- effectively turning every day into a vibrant arts festival!
The BeautifulCity.ca proposal will also help spur the economy. A Council for Business and the Arts study in 2006 stated that "for every 1 dollar of public arts funding in a regional economy, 8 are generated." However, in 2008, the Martin Prosperity Institute found that "the fact that average cities around the country have expanded their cultural expenditures by more than 4 times as much as the City of Toronto has put Toronto on the low end of competitive growth."
The proposal also emphasizes funding the work of talented young artists who live in Toronto's most impoverished communities. This will not only make Toronto a more fair and reflective city -- but also healthier. According to a report from the University of Pennsylvania "Low income neighbourhoods with higher cultural participation are four times more likely than average to have low delinquency rates. Neighbourhoods with an active arts scene are nearly three times more likely to see their poverty rates decline and their population increase."
BeautifulCity.ca is endorsed by 40 organizations, 1400 signatories and backed by multiple Councillors. Environics found that 7/10 Toronto voters support "a tax on billboards with the funds going to public art," making the proposal the most popular tax measure a government could implement.
Presented by Manifesto, Youth Action Network, Toronto Youth Cabinet, Canadian Youth Arts Network and the BeautifulCity.ca Alliance, a video of the last Town Hall can be viewed via the following link: http://www.themanifesto.ca/townhall2008/ManifestoCyanMeeting.mov
Please see the invite below.
Event detailsToronto City Hall Committee Room 2 (second floor)May 5, 20096:30-9:30PM
Register withJulia CheAgents of Change email@example.com 928 1978April 16Web Update
SAVE THE DATE - BEAUTIFULCITY.CA TOWN HALLTuesday May 5th Committee Room 2 from 6:30-9 PM
Presented by Manifesto Community Projects, the Toronto Youth Cabinet, Youth Action Network, CYAN and the BCBF (Beautiful City Billboard Fee) Alliance.
Come find out how you can be a part of historical change in the city. Discussion will focus on how to implement a charge on billboards to fund art in the public sphere with a priority on marginalized communities and youth art. Topics also include policy recommendations for the city defining enforcement of graffiti art
Suggest possible agenda items regarding youth, art and public space for consideration at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=70651528738
Sign the petition and learn more at http://www.beautifulcity.caMarch, 15 2009 Web UpdateBCBF PETITION - GOING TO EXEC. COMMITTEE JUNE 2nd & COUNCIL IN JULY----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The dedicated tax on billboards for public art is finally going to council. Please sign and circulate the petition here http://www.them.ca/bcbfpetition.asp(if you have not done so already.)
Signatures have been instrumental in getting city councilors on board with the initiative, bringing about a new billboard bylaw and are critical to it passing. The BCBF has the potential to dramatically increase arts funding in Toronto while greatly diversifying and democratizing access to public space. Once implemented, it would mean a historic increase to the annual Toronto Arts Council budget: enough to more than double the numbers of artists receiving individual grants or, to fund hundreds of new arts projects across the city -- effectively turning every day into a vibrant arts festival!
Towards the aim of diversifying access to public space, the BCBF entails a funding priority on marginalized communities and youth art. This will not only make Toronto a more fair and reflective city -- but also healthier. According to a report from the University of Pennsylvania "Low income neighbourhoods with higher cultural participation are four times more likely than average to have low delinquency rates. Neighbourhoods with an active arts scene are nearly three times more likely to see their poverty rates decline and their population increase."
The BCBF is endorsed by 36 organizations and 1200 individual signatories. A Council for Business and the Arts study in 2006 stated that for every one dollar of public arts funding in a regional economy, eight are generated and, according to Environics, 7/10 Toronto Voters support "a tax on billboards with the funds going to public art through the Toronto Arts Council." However for some city Councillor this is not enough, please add your support and circulate this message.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Join the Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=4798915838&ref=shareMore info: http://bcbf.them.ca
August 20, 2008Web UpdateThe public consultations for the new billboard bylaw have been initiated by the city. There will be four sessions across Toronto (Sept 10, Etobicoke Civic Centre, Sept 18th North York Civic Centre, Sept 24th Scarborough Civic Centre and Sept 25th Toronto City Hall -- all are at 7pm.)Wednesday, September 10, 20087:00 p.m.Etobicoke Civic Centre2 Civic Centre Court, 2nd floorCouncil Chambers Thursday, September 18, 20087:00 p.m.North York Civic Centre5100 Yonge St, 1st FloorCouncil Chambers Wednesday, September 24, 20087:00 p.m.Scarborough Civic Centre150 Borough DriveCouncil Chambers Thursday, September 25, 20087:00 p.m.Toronto City Hall100 Queen Street West, 2nd FloorCommittee Room #2 Nov 22, 2007Web Update
In the good news / slow-but-measured-progress department, the Environics stats backed by 32 organizations, related positive press, the hard work of our allies and a handful of Councillors has been paying dividends towards better enforcement of billboards. A number of measures have now been passed or are in progress such as dedicated personnel, wide reaching reviews and revoking of bad permits. Additionally, the signs harmonization has been accelerated. The background report also says the tax is likely to be rolled out in 2009 -- if it goes to public art or not is up to us (and you!)- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Nov 1st, 2007Attn: Municipal DeskToronto, ON
// Environics Poll Indicates 8/10 Voters Want Illegal Billboards Removed & Increased Fines, 7/10 Want a Reduction in General //
In the run-up to the new billboard bylaw, an Environics survey commissioned by the BCBF Alliance indicates that a strong majority of Torontonians support enhanced protections for pubic space.
78% of the general population and 8/10 of municipal voters support "the city removing billboards that violate city bylaws and implementing fines to a level that discourages future violations." (For more information on illegal billboards please visit http://www.illegalsigns.ca)
68% of the general population and 7/10 of municipal voters are in support of "the city working to reduce billboards and corporate posters in general." This result clearly positions civic space advocates as a public interest group -- rather than treatment or portrayal as a fringe, or special interest.
The survey was limited to people living in the City of Toronto and has an actionable margin of error at +/- 6.7% (19/20) To download the summary, please see: http://www.them.ca/bcbf/Summary_EnvironicsPoll_A-B.pdf
For more information:
(647) 267 4221http://firstname.lastname@example.org
***********************************************Please note: tomorrow there is a MLS motion regarding illegal signs!http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2007/ls/agendas/2007-11-02-ls08-ar.pdf
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August 23, 2007Web UpdateMUNICIPAL UPDATE After drawing wide support from the community during the somewhat harrowing public consultations concerning new revenue tools -- the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer recommend that:
"In conjunction with the development of a new City sign by-law, DCM Richard Butts be directed to consider and report back to the Executive Committee on the potential application of a billboard or public signage tax, specifically for the purposes of raising revenue to administer the by-law and raise revenues for City beautification, arts or cultural initiatives;" (Staff Report, June 11th) This action was later passed by the Executive Committee (Executive Committee Item 10.1, June 25th)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -ATTN: Arts & Municipal Issues DeskMay 12, 2007
MAJORITY SUPPORT BILLBOARD TAX FOR PUBLIC ART
Enacting the Beautiful City Billboard Fee (BCBF) through the new revenue tools (currently under public review)would see six million dollars would go to public art in Toronto.
Funds would be gathered from an annual license fee, paid by billboard advertisers and be directed though the Toronto Arts Council into public art -- with a priority put on marginalized communities and youth art. According to a Pollara poll, only 15% of Torontonians are against such a fee.
Objectives of the BCBF include:- Urban beautification & employment for artists- More funding for tracking & policing billboard advertisers- Helping move Toronto towards a pedestrian focused aesthetic- Promoting community ownership of public spaces- Diversifying access to public communication
Supported by: 411 Initiative for Change; Arts & Contemporary Studies Student Union; Artsvote; Centre for Integral Economics; Digital Propaganda; Earwaks.com; Grassroots Youth Collaborative; Illegalsigns.ca; Kate Henderson Intellectual Property & Trademark; Lotus Leaf Communications; Manifesto; Mural Routes; nataliagrosner.com; PressPause; Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre; Rhythmicru; Spacing Magazine; Style in Progress; The Remix Project; The Gladstone Hotel, The Faculty Of, them.ca, Toronto Arts Council Foundation, Toronto Youth Cabinet, UrbanArts & Youth Action Network
More info: http://bcbf.them.ca
Media Inquiries:Julia CheLotus Leaf CommunicationsJulia@lotusleaf.ca416.702.5414
For Immediate Release:
September 26, 2005
UN8 LIVE PAINTING AT HARBOURFRONT: BCBF PHOTO OP + AFTERPARTY
Toronto, ON. -- On Saturday Oct. 1 and Sunday Oct 2. 2005 join Them.ca at Harbourfront Centre for the Culture Shock – Voices of an Emerging Generation festival with live painting by some ofCanada's top street artists: Other (http://other.them.ca) Dstrbo (http://www.hvw8.com), Case ( http://case.them.ca), thesis (http://thesis.them.ca) and Elicser ( http://www.presspause.ca) will paint in dedication to the United Nations 8 millennium goals. Culture Shock is a festival which celebrates arts, culture and politics.
The live painting piece will also illustrate the possibilities of public art -- providing a vibrant backdrop for the public launch of the Beautiful City Billboard Fee (http://bcbf.them.ca). This proposal (under review by the Mayor's office) would establish a fee put on billboards around Toronto with the funds going towards art commissioned at the community centre level. The project will not only beautifyToronto and create jobs for Canadian artists, but will also serve to promote community ownership of and diversify communication in public spaces. Over 15 organizations support the BCBF and only 11% of Canadians are against such a fee (+/-2.4% 19/20 Pollara). BCBF campaign postcards will be on-hand to fill out and mail to the Mayor and Julia Che will be available for interviews.
On Sunday, take your completed and stamped BCBF postcard and receive $1 off at the Culture Shock After Party. The After Party will take place at the Supermarket, in the heart of Kensington Market. It will feature a live painting battle between Them.ca and Presspause.ca (two of Canada's top street art groups). Rhythmic Crew's Owl will act as referee. The finished pieces will be auctioned to fund the BCBF project. L'Oqenz, Mensa, Phat Conductor, Farbsi and Evstarr will also spin tunes throughout the evening with throwdowns by breakdance crew The Drunken Monkz. The event is sponsored by Solo Mobile, Moosehead (1$ beers!), Lotus Leaf, them.ca, Hip-Hop Canada, District Six and Thecybercrib.com.
The event will begin at 9pm. This is a 19+ event with a cover of $5 ($4 with the completed BCBF postcard)
The Culture Shock Festival takes place from September 30 – October 2, 2005.
235 Queens Quay West
Visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com/shock for more information.
The Culture Shock After Party takes place on October 2nd, 2005
The Supermarket: 268 Augusta
For information on Culture Shock contact:
Media Relations Coordinator
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September 12, 2005 – MEDIA ADVISORY
The Mayor's office has accepted the BCBF for review!
CNW - AUGUST 9TH http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/August2005/09/c8636.html
Attention News Editors:
Majority of Canadians Support Fee on Billboards to Fund Public Art
TORONTO, Aug. 9 /CNW/ - The Beautiful City Billboard Fee (BCBF) proposes
that billboard companies pay an annual fee with the proceeds used to
commission public art.
According to Pollara, 66% Canadians support the proposal and only 11% are opposed. In Toronto, 66% of participants support the proposal and 15% are opposed.
The objectives of the BCBF are: 1) urban beautification 2) employment for artists; 3) diversifying access to visual communication in, and thus promoting community ownership of, public spaces.
Information, images, quotes and resources can be found at:
For further information: Julia Che, Lotus Leaf Communications,
(647) 295-8086, email@example.com; Devon Ostrom, Project Administration,
(416) 604-7804, firstname.lastname@example.org
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ATTN: ARTS / COMMUNITY DESK For Immediate Release: July 15, 2005
Majority of Canadians Support Fee on
Billboards to Fund Public Art
Street Art Organization, Them.ca introduces The Beautiful City Billboard Fee "BCBF"
Toronto, ON – Them.ca announced today the launch of a new project called The Beautiful City Billboard Fee (BCBF). The BCBF proposes that billboard companies pay an annual fee with the proceeds used to commission public art. If initiated, the BCBF will add a grassroots touch to the "Year of Creativity 2006" and provide further support for the Mayor's "Clean & Beautiful City" initiative. The BCBF could fund the renewal and celebration of local communities through creative expression.
"Typically, we accept advertising in other forums such as magazines, as it is seen to subsidize useful or enjoyable content for the consumer of the message. This fee will help billboard advertising to assume a more legitimate place in the public's perception. Spin-off effects could include a reduction in vandalism (on advertising) and people paying more conscious attention to billboard advertisements," says Them.ca curator, Devon Ostrom.
According to a Pollara (www.pollara.ca) public opinion poll, a majority of Canadians support the institution of a fee on billboard advertising that would be redirected into public art. A total of 2006 Canadian adults participated in the survey, 66% of which supported the fee and 11% were opposed. (±2.2%, 19/20) This result was closely mirrored in Toronto, with 66% of participants supporting the proposal and only 15% opposed (±8.3%, 19/20).
The primary objectives of the BCBF are: 1) beautification of the city; 2) creation of employment for artists and 3) diversifying access to visual communication in public spaces to reflect the creativity and multiplicity that exists in Canada's urban centres.
Them.ca proposes a charge of $6.00 per sq. foot of billboard space per year. Those funds will then be redirected towards public art. Thus, five 15'x25' billboards could subsidize one small art piece for the cost of $10 000.00 (allowing $1250.00 for administrative and maintenance expenses incurred by city and granting bodies). On a larger scale, the estimated 5000 billboards in Toronto could generate six million dollars for public art per year.
"…To me, there's room for advertising in the world in moderation and in balance with other kinds of messages. We don't have that; our 'pure' artists are certainly at a disadvantage when it comes to resources. A reasonable balance between conflicting agendas is what we always hope for. Seeing more of the best work of our best artists in public places would contribute to that. That would also make this city and the world better places to live in," says Jim Garrard, Past Executive Director, Toronto Arts Council.
The Beautiful City Billboard Fee (BCBF) will not only beautify Toronto and create jobs for Canadian artists, but will also serve to promote community ownership and diversify communication in public spaces. Them.ca looks forward to working with the Beautiful City Roundtable and the Mayor's Office to further refine this concept by providing a venue where all stakeholders can maintain involvement.
The Organization: Them.ca
Them.ca is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to: 1) providing a community of practice, promotion and platform for its artists; 2) mentoring, supporting and developing young urban artists; 3) researching and conducting urban renewal using art, and 4) promoting and producing art exhibits, events and festivals. Them.ca encourages arts organizations in other municipalities to use the BCBF polling results for additional local initiatives.
For more information including: quotes, sources, FAQ, a copy of the full proposal, resources, images and the findings from poll, please visit: http://bcbf.them.ca
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For further information contact:
Lotus Leaf Communications
Attn: SALLE DE RÉDACTION / ARTS - COMMUNAUTÉ
Communiqué - pour diffusion immédiate
La majorité des Canadiens sont favorables à l'idée d'une redevance d'utilisation des panneaux publicitaires pour subventionner l'art public
Them.ca lance le projet «RAVIR» («Redevance d'affichage pour des villes qui inspirent et respirent»)
Toronto, le 14 juillet 2005 - Them.ca a dévoilé aujourd'hui son nouveau projet de «Redevance d'affichage pour des villes qui inspirent et respirent» (RAVIR). Ce projet propose que les compagnies qui utilisent les panneaux publicitaires paient une redevance annuelle dont les recettes serviraient à commander des oeuvres d'art publiques au profit des communautés locales. Si elle est instituée, la RAVIR apporterait une contribution populaire à «l'Année de la créativité 2006» et un soutien à l'initiative «Ville belle, ville propre» ("Clean and Beautiful City") du maire de Toronto David Miller. La RAVIR mettrait à profit l'expression créatrice pour soutenir la rénovation et la célébration des communautés urbaines.
«Cette redevance pourrait non seulement aider à embellir notre ville, favoriser le multiculturalisme et donner du travail à nos artistes systématiquement sous-employés, dit Devon Ostrom, conservateur de Them.ca., mais elle pourrait aussi rehausser l'image de la publicité extérieure aux yeux du public. On peut très bien imaginer qu'elle pourrait entraîner également une diminution des actes de vandalisme contre les annonces et qu'elle inciterait le public à porter plus d'attention aux panneaux publicitaires.»
D'après un sondage réalisé par Pollara (www.pollara.ca), la majorité des Canadiens sont favorables à l'idée d'une redevance sur les panneaux d'affichage qui seraient réinvestie dans l'art public. Sur les 2 006 Canadiens ont participé au sondage, 66 % étaient d'accord avec la redevance et 11 % y étaient opposés (± 2,2 %, 19/20). Ces résultats nationaux était presque identiques aux résultats obtenus à Toronto, où 66 % des répondants se sont dits d'accord et seulement 15 % en désaccord (± 8,3 %, 19/20).
Le projet RAVIR a trois grands objectifs: (1) embellir nos villes, (2) créer des emplois pour nos artistes et (3) diversifier l'accès à la communication visuelle dans les espaces publics de manière à refléter la créativité et la diversité qui existent dans les centres urbains à travers le Canada.
Them.ca propose une redevance annuelle de 6,00 $ au pied carré d'espace d'affichage publicitaire qui serait destinées à des projets d'art public. Par exemple, cinq panneaux publicitaires de 15 pi par 25 pi suffiraient pour subventionner une œuvre modeste coûtant 10 000 $ (dont 1 250,00 $ serviraient à payer les frais d'administration et à assurer l'entretien de l'oeuvre). À plus grande échelle, les quelque 5 000 panneaux publicitaires à Toronto pourraient générer six millions de dollars pour l'art public chaque année.
Pour Jim Garrard, ancien directeur général du Conseil des arts de Toronto, «il y a de la place pour la publicité dans le monde, dans la mesure où sa présence est modérée et équilibrée par rapport aux autres types de messages. Ce n'est pas le cas à l'heure actuelle; nos artistes «purs» sont définitivement désavantagés sur le plan des ressources. Ce qu'on souhaite surtout, c'est un équilibre raisonnable entre des intérêts qui ne sont pas toujours concordants. Le fait de pouvoir voir un plus grand nombre des meilleures œuvres de nos meilleurs artistes dans les espaces publics serait un grand pas dans la bonne direction, tout en rendant notre ville et notre monde plus agréables à habiter.»
La RAVIR embellira la ville de Toronto et créera des emplois pour les artistes canadiens. Elle stimulera la prise en charge des espaces publics par la communauté et y diversifiera la communication. Them.ca souhaite travailler avec le «Beautiful City Roundtable» et le bureau du maire Miller pour mieux définir les paramètres du projet et créer un lieu où tous les parties intéressées pourront continuer à oeuvrer ensemble à sa réalisation.
Them.ca est un organisme sans but lucratif qui a pour mandat de (1) constituer une communauté de pratique, de promotion et d'expression de ses artistes, (2) d'offrir un mentorat, un soutien et des moyens de développement aux jeunes artistes urbains, (3) de travailler conceptuellement et concrètement à la rénovation urbaine au moyen des arts et (4) de monter et de promouvoir des expositions, événements et festivals artistiques. Them.ca invite les organismes à vocation artistique des autres municipalités à se servir du sondage sur la RAVIR et à mettre sur pied des projets semblables dans leurs communautés respectives.
Pour tout complément d'information, y compris les citations, sources, documents sur le déploiement de la fonction qualité, ressources, images et résultats du sondage, suivez ce lien: http://bcbf.them.ca.
Julia Che – Coordinatrice des relations avec les médias - 647.295.8086 - email@example.com - Lotus Leaf Communications
- David Meslin, "Not So Fast on Billboard Tax," Now Magazine, May 10th 2007- "International Youth Week + BCBF" Catch da Flava Radio & Audio Arts Program / CKLN88.1FM, May 1st 2007- Staff Writer, "BCBF" Public Art Review, Vol. 17 No.1 Fall-Winter 2005 - Anne Marie Aikins, "Beautiful city billboard campaign looks for municipal support" Novae Res Urbis, Aug.12 2005 (PDF Dowload - 385kb)- Wire Release, "Majority of Canadians Support Fee on Billboards to Fund Public Art," CNW Group, Aug 9th, 2005 - NA, "Solutions: Devon Ostrom on the BCBF." Toronto Arts Coalition News, August 2nd, 2005- Devon Ostrom, "Taxing Billboards for a better city", Mural Routes News, August, 2005 (PDF)- Jamais Cascio, "Beautiful City Billboard Fee," World Changing, July 21, 2005- NA, "Beautiful City Billboard Fee." Spacing Wire, July 18th, 2005- Devon Ostrom, "A Beautiful Billboard Fee." them.ca, June 2005- Devon Ostrom, "A Beautiful Billboard Fee." UrbanArts, June 2005 (PDF)- Liam Thurston & D.Thomas, "Art vs. Ads," Fuse Magazine, May 2002- Carly Zwarenstein,"Let the Big Guys Pay," Eye, April 2002- Liam Thurston & Devon Ostrom "Art Vs Ads" Youth Action Forum, August, 2002