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Equality East Citizens Coalition
1612 Baie Verte Crescent
Orléans ON  KIC 3K2
(613) 837-7950

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Media Centre - News Release

East end arts facility campaign a success story in community-building
(Posted January 14, 2003)

Orléans, Ontario – One of the little known stories behind the City of Ottawa’s recent 2003 budget exercise is how an entire community mobilized and successfully lobbied City Hall for the establishment of a permanent community arts and culture facility in Ottawa’s east end.

In an 18-4 vote during the City’s final budget deliberations last Wednesday, members of City Council approved $9.1 million for the east end arts centre in the 2005 capital budget forecast.

The arts facility project is one that the Gloucester Arts Council (GAC) and its members have been pushing since 1988. Representing 53 member organizations and numerous individuals, the GAC kept the dream alive and continued to meet with local decision-makers, pointing out the shortfalls of local “make-do” facilities and driving home the glaring arts and culture infrastructure deficit in the east end.

“It took us 14 years to get beyond the studies and to secure a commitment from the City,” says Gloucester Arts Council Executive Director, Christine Tremblay. “There’s little doubt in my mind that the Equality East campaign played a vital role in rallying the community around this project, and successfully applying pressure on elected officials to move the Arts Centre onto the City books.”

In the fall of 2002, under the banner of the Equality East Citizens’ Coalition, 58 community organizations – representing over 11,000 registered members and an annual audience reach of 300,000 – signed onto a joint Declaration of Support for the arts facility project. A petition for individuals was also launched during the 8-week campaign, garnering over 1,200 signatures. This broad based coalition galvanized lobbying efforts, uniting arts and culture organizations, community associations, sports groups and businesses

“The arts community had a strong, well-documented case which clearly demonstrated the need for this facility,” says Equality East Chair, J.-F. Claude. “What the Equality East campaign has shown is that, with limited public dollars available, the east end community can put its competing interests aside and work together to successfully move priority projects forward to benefit the entire community.” Claude adds that the Equality East movement has quite possibly set a precedent for other communities across the City in terms of moving capital priorities forward in future municipal budget cycles.

While the Gloucester Arts Council and the Equality East Citizen’s Coalition are celebrating their recent victory, both agree that their respective advocacy roles must continue.

“With an anticipated $52 million funding gap in the City’s 2004 capital budget, and a $25 million shortfall in 2005, Equality East will have to remain vigilant and vigorously defend and protect all of the east end’s priority projects currently on the City books,” says J.-F. Claude.

“The GAC will continue to work towards securing an ongoing fiscal commitment to the arts community in Ottawa. In addition, the GAC will have to ensure that interests of the east end arts organizations' are well served in the design of the new facility,” says Christine Tremblay.

Both organizations agree that while they’re thrilled with recent developments, what they’re really looking forward to is the curtain rising on the opening act of the new east end arts center in 2005.

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Source:

Christine Tremblay, Executive Director, Gloucester Arts Council
(613) 749-4978 -- http://www.cyberus.ca/~gac-cag/ 

J.-F. Claude, Chair, Equality East Citizens’ Coalition
(613) 837-7950 -- http://equalityeast.tripod.com

 

BACKGROUNDER

The Gloucester Arts Council is a not for profit organization that promotes the growth and development of the arts in Ottawa communities. The GAC is an umbrella organization representing more than 53 member groups and many individual members - offering them quality programs, services and resources.

Equality East, an independent and non-partisan citizen’s coalition founded in September 2002, promotes public and private investment in the renewal and expansion of the east end community’s cultural, economic and social infrastructure. By building a broadbased coalition of existing community organizations and concerned residents, Equality East aims to provide the east end with a stronger, more effective voice in city affairs.

© J.-F. Claude, 2002