One can only conjecture as to why the finance committee of city council has proposed a budget with a 10 per cent cut in funding to Winnipeg museums.
All evidence, local, national and international, points to the fact that museums and arts and culture organizations are vital to the health of our community in every regard -- the economy, jobs, tourism, individual physical and mental health, crime prevention, education, the environment -- and more.
Museums contribute to, not take from, the economy. Winnipeg's own report, Ticket to the Future, found that every $1 contributed by the city to the arts generates $18.23 from other sources. Why are we faced with a budget that slashes opportunities for increased economic generation, which in turn supports the city's businesses?
History is neither past nor over. It forms today's foundations, framing issues, needs, accomplishments and challenges. It is the platform for future planning and development. To cut means of access to knowledge in today's knowledge age is sheer folly.
Museums are also key partners in the development of cultural tourism. With the Canadian Museum for Human Rights opening in 2014, the new airport, the Jets and the many exciting and important projects on the horizon, Winnipeg will host increasing numbers of tourists and visitors.
Facts prove more tourists attend museums, galleries and arts events than any other Winnipeg attractions. Do we want to cut back Winnipeg's ability to serve visitors effectively and with pride? To tell our stories? To create awareness and understanding of this place encouraging future partnerships and more visits?
I hope a sober second thought will bring the right decision. Do not cut the museums, their jobs and contributions to Winnipeg's economic health and citizens' quality of life. Do not compromise the valuable contributions museums make to the fabric of our community.