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Manitoba Liberals say the NDP and PCs have ignored the province’s cultural industries and infrastructure.
On Sunday, party leader Dougald Lamont said provincial investment in the arts "has been frozen or stuck in the 1970s" despite being an important part of "what makes us special as a province."
"Winnipeg and Manitoba both have a long and proud tradition of artists, of fine arts as well as popular arts," Lamont said. "When we think about creative industry, sometimes there might be the attitude that they’re something of a luxury, but really they’re not."
The Liberals say they could grow the industry by providing more funding.
"While other budgets have soared, creative and heritage funding was frozen for years," Lamont said. "The result has been buildings where basic maintenance and upgrades haven’t been done, leaky roofs and inaccessible spaces."
Lamont said buildings such as the Centennial Concert Hall, the Centre culturel franco-manitobain and the Manitoba Museum are examples of art and heritage spaces in dire need of funding for repairs and upgrades.
The Liberals would create a cultural capital fund by setting aside 2.5 per cent of current infrastructure spending for cultural infrastructure. The party said that would equal $25 million annually at today’s funding rate.
Groups would be able to apply for funding to create new arts hubs as well as maintenance and upgrades to their spaces.
An analysis of 2016 and 2017 Statistics Canada data shows the arts and creative industries account for 35,000 jobs in Manitoba and add $2.2 billion to Manitoba’s annual gross domestic product, making it one of the province’s top five sectors.
The Liberals would increase municipal funding by $4 million in the first year and restore funding to creative industries export programs to ensure Manitoba films, music, art, literature and video games "can succeed in today’s global marketplace."
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The party said under the NDP, culture and heritage funding essentially flatlined and the PC government has cut or frozen funding to arts and culture organizations and agencies.
Lamont accused PC Leader Brian Pallister of bailing out the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium and ordering Manitoba Public Insurance to hand millions to insurance brokers, while refusing to put money into enhancing an industry that employs more than 20,000 people.
"We’ve heard from many people, in the business community as well as in the arts community, that the failure to invest in these programs is holding us back," he said.
The provincial NDP released a short statement on Sunday reaffirming its commitment to the arts. The party did not make any concrete promises or commit to any arts-related funding, but promised to release more details about its arts platform in an upcoming campaign announcement.
NDP, PC leaders win nominations
The leaders of the NDP and PC parties were announced as having won their nominations on the weekend in sharply contrasting ways.
While Wab Kinew was nominated as his party's candidate in Fort Rouge in a splashy event with about 100 supporters at the Park Theatre, the PCs issued a news release saying Brian Pallister had been nominated in Fort Whyte.
"I'm running to be your premier so that we can fix health care, so that we can create 50,000 good jobs and so that we can solve the climate crisis in Manitoba while keeping life affordable," Kinew told the crowd as his wife, Lisa Monkman, and three sons were nearby.
In contrast, the Progressive Conservatives issued a news release Sunday morning that included a photo of Pallister and his wife, Esther, hugging.
“I am incredibly proud to lead a diverse, experienced team of community-minded Manitobans who are ready to continue the important work of building a better Manitoba,” Pallister said in the release. “The only thing better than today in Manitoba, will be tomorrow in Manitoba.”