March 17, 2021- Saint John, NB- On behalf of the ArtsLink NB membership, we wish to express our disappointment in the inadequate level of recovery funds allocated to the arts and culture sector in the 2020-21 budget, presented on March 16, 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed the arts and culture sector and meaningful investment is drastically needed to stave off further decline. This can be illustrated in the province’s budget revision of tourism revenues, from $6.1 M to $1.8 M in 2020.1 Additionally, between January 2020 and January 2021, 17% of jobs in the information, culture and recreation sector were lost in New Brunswick. The Canadian arts, entertainment, and recreation sector suffered a 50% loss in generated revenues between December 2019 and December 2020.2
New Brunswick’s arts sector is a huge economic driver. In 2018, the NB cultural sector contributed $572 million to the GDP, making culture the province’s second-largest economic driver, generating a higher GDP than agriculture, pulp and paper, manufacturing, IT, seafood manufacturing, or mining. This sector also represents 7,525 workers, who boast higher than average education but low incomes.3
Though this week’s budget designates $7.2 M in relief funding to the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, that funding will be divided between the branches of arts, culture, heritage, tourism, archaeology, sports, parks and attractions. This amount is far from enough for the needs of the sector.
In the past decade, the only substantial investment by New Brunswick’s provincial government in the arts and culture sector was the initial investment in the province’s cultural policy in 2014, despite the clear data that illustrates the importance of this sector to the economic and social health of New Brunswick.
In the presentation of this budget to the legislature, there was not a single mention of arts and culture even when speaking about “vibrant and sustainable communities,”4 which is concerning for passionate and professional workers who have struggled to continue their work during untenable conditions. The arts and culture sector contributes so greatly to the health and fabric of our communities; it is vital that the budget allocations reflect their contribution.
About ArtsLink NB:
ArtsLink NB is a member-based arts service organization, founded in 2009 to advance the arts in New Brunswick by linking and unifying artists and arts organizations and promoting their value. We represent New Brunswick artists of all disciplines from across the province.
Julie Whitenect, Executive Director, ArtsLink NB
(506) 608 9914, firstname.lastname@example.org