An initiative called Beautiful City (www.beautifulcity.ca) has worked for the past seven years to create increased public funding for the arts in Toronto, through the establishment of a tax on billboard advertising across Toronto.
A billboard enforcement bylaw would be the initiative to kick off this new tax, which will be voted upon by Toronto City Council on November 30/December 1, 2009.
The Beautiful City objective states…
Advertising is increasingly infringing on our public spaces, and the privilege of leveraging our city for commercial ends should come with a responsibility to keep them healthy. Almost all other forms of advertising subsidize content in exchange for your attention. The billboard tax is a fair and just means for private advertisers to take responsibility for their impact on the city.
A billboard tax would provide the funding to properly enforce the new billboard bylaw, and would also provide funding for increased arts programming in communities across Toronto – including murals, sculptures, festivals, accessible arts programming, outdoor performances and more. The fact that every dollar spent on public arts funding, creates eight dollars of generated funds in the local community (McKinsey Co.), the increased investment in arts and culture has been proven to be effective in cultivating healthy and prosperous communities.
At the target of 18 million in revenue (annually) it would create the opportunity for:
- An historic increase to Toronto’s arts and culture budget, potentially doubling the number of artists and projects receiving grants.
- Providing approx. $100,000 annually to each Toronto ward for urban beautification, streetscape improvement, and green initiatives.
- Provide approx. $300,000 annually to each of Toronto’s 13 priority neighbourhoods to support accessible youth arts programming.
- Creation of a well-supported bylaw enforcement team to keep pervasive illegal advertising in check and an arms-length variance system.
Go to http://www.beautifulcity.ca to find your councillor, scripts, updates, links and facts.