Ontario has its first ever culture strategy — it's endorsed by Margaret Atwood — but there's no money attached to it yet.
Newly minted Minister of Arts and Culture, Eleanor McMahon, announced the strategy at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Wednesday morning.
“The is the first time in the history of our province that we've had a culture strategy, and I'm sure you'll all agree it's distinctly overdue,” said McMahon, in her speech.
Ontario spends about $800 million on arts and culture every year, and this plan does not increase that, McMahon said. The plan came after extensive consultation and input from the Culture Strategy Advisory Group.
“What we’re really announcing today is a road map,” she said.
So far, no existing arts and culture funding has been attached to any of the four “key actions,” in the plan. One of the four is “conserving heritage buildings with energy efficiency improvements,” which is already part of the Climate Change Action Plan, and which will be funded by the Climate Change Action Plan, McMahon said.
Another key action, “supporting the use of more Canadian authors' content in schools,” has Atwood’s support. McMahon met with the novelist about the plan, and secured her endorsement.
Atwood, in a statement in the government news release, said she is “particularly pleased that the strategy will help publishers to develop curriculum tools that will support teachers and facilitate the use of Canadian books in schools and inspire children to read the diverse and compelling stories of our own talented authors – and perhaps to become writers themselves!"
“What an incredible person she is — that wit and sense of humour,” McMahon said. “I think she’s 76, which is not old by any means, but for someone at that stage in her life you’d think a rocking chair would be appropriate, or some kind of settling down, but not at all. She’s embarking on new projects, she’s investing in new technologies.”
The plan to get more Canadian books into schools doesn’t involve a curriculum change, she said, just the fund for publishers for creating learning resources.
McMahon said she’s personally excited about the plan to develop “a new fund to support cultural activities in indigenous communities,” and “supporting youth cultural camps that build leadership and promote awareness of traditional knowledge.”
The plan also calls for enhancing the technical and business skills training for workers in the culture sector.