Are Firefighters Smarter Than Artists in Cornwall Ontario by Jamie Gilcig – March 30, 2015

Dollar-iconCORNWALL Ontario – There may be something that artists in Cornwall Ontario can learn from Firefighters.    The charade that has been this year’s budget committee has given lip service to cutting taxes.

With half of council having signed a pledge to do so it seems the only things cut were the arts which are essentially lip service as the city doesn’t fund the arts much, certainly not as much as they do hockey.

Historically this is not unique as Cornwall slashed arts and culture years before after the Cornwall Comets fiasco.

This time around its a mixed mess of feel good for a small amount, after all, it’s only $56K that TAG was furnished last year, minus the $13.5K it’s received.

Firefighters, via their union have filled council chambers for awhile now with a stern group sitting at the back grimacing at council as a reminder of possible votes lost at the next election.  The result has been some noise, but no cuts.

Artists, have nary made a peep of protest or shown up to be part of the political process.    The knives are easier to wield with less witnesses.     It was the same for the white elephant known as the Benson Centre where enough people made enough noise that it was financed while there will never be an arts centre in this town because artists simply have not helped their own cause.

Our city has a Cultural Advisory committee.    Councilor David Benson Murphy is on it.     When Marty or Gerry pas gas Dave can tell you what they had for breakfast.       Mr. Murphy, the classy guy that he is, couldn’t be bothered for TAG’s presentation, or YAC’s, but was quick to vote down the public gallery’s funding.   Clearly he should not be on any board related to the arts and frankly on council either.

Other members of the committee that have remained silent are Julia Lucio who claims to be a “Culture Seeker”, Justin “Mr. Abstain” Towndale, Rodney Rivette (How can you be named Rivette and actively not support the arts never mind attack them as his dad Andre has?)  Carilyne Hebert’s mom is on the committee as well, (perhaps this is the nepotism committee where relatives of councilors go to hang?)

Chair Todd Bennett emailed in a response suggesting that he’s told people to email council, but he himself has not made a public statement supporting either TAG or YAC.

It truly is boggling.   If people really cared about the arts in Cornwall the council chamber would be full tonight as it’s the final budget meeting.  One councilor that is supportive claimed that they couldn’t get a seconder for a motion they wanted to put forward tonight.

You can’t make statements as Bernadette Clement has in the past about the arts and stay silent….or can you?

Tonight should be interesting, but no matter what the result clearly the arts community in this city has a lot of work cut out for itself to move forward and cannot count on municipal support to grow.

Are you an area artist?  Will you be at the budget committee meeting at City Hall tonight?  You can post your comment below.

UPDATED: Todd Bennett and not David Murphy is the Chair of the Committee.


  1. It all comes down to priorities. Right now the priority is to get the tax hike at or near the inflation rate.

    And like I’ve said before until TAG can prove that they are truly indeed on the right path I think the cut in funding was justified. For too many years TAG would show up at the budget meetings with an incomplete grant application or incomplete data. It’s nice that the new board of directors say that things will be different. But how many times have we heard this song and dance before?

  2. Author

    Hugger there has not been an official complaint to TAG. This year’s proposal was written by Councilor Elaine MacDonald herself while she was President.

    TAG is a city asset and public gallery. It has served this community for thirty years. Can it perform better? Sure, but so could council. Should we not pay our taxes because of mess ups like the Kilger/Fitzpatrick scandal too? Your argument is silly.

  3. Silly? Sorry, I refuse to, get into a pissing contest with anyone.

  4. No “official complaint to TAG.” Perhaps not. But what do you call the grilling TAG officials get every year from the budget committee for showing up unprepared?

    Hopefully Councilor Elaine MacDonald will declare a conflict of interest on this one. She doesn’t declare CoI for Agape.

    Until TAG can show some tangible results and keep on a stable path it should be kept on a short leash. And keeping a board of directors for a length of time would be helpful. The revolving door at the board of directors table has to stop.

    Cornwall is not the only city to cut arts funding, so this is nothing new.

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