Investing in Culture in Barrie

An Open Letter, 29 March 2010

Dear Member of Parliament, Mayor and Councillors

Tonight, when City Council votes Yes for a new Downtown Community Theatre, we will be only one year away from completing a project that has already had a significant impact on the arts community, the downtown, and indeed our city as a whole.

The federal government, through Heritage’s Cultural Spaces program, is investing the most in this redevelopment. For every dollar they spend on arts and culture, they earn back more than two. Thank you to MP Patrick Brown for his diligence in securing this funding.

Though the City of Barrie is contributing somewhat less than the feds in this round, our city is the largest investor in this project as it purchased the old bank and paid for interim renovations. Council deserves our gratitude for the vision it has pursued, and for understanding the economic as well as social importance of the arts.

The current Downtown Community Theatre has had a clear and appreciable impact on our downtown, both economically as it stimulated businesses in the area, and socially as it has given all of us a place to express ourselves. What we have is a good start, but the community needs and backs this revitalization.

Despite the economic climate, when the Theatre reopens next year, the GDP downtown is expected to rise by at least three million dollars in the first year alone. This will increase commercial tax revenues and thus reduce the burden on residential taxpayers. Not bad for a two million dollar investment that builds community, and makes Barrie more attractive to professionals, like doctors.

You have set a new standard of investment in arts and culture in Barrie. You have proven that arts are not a frill but a vibrant sector of our economy and a vital expression of who we are and what we strive to achieve.

On behalf of Barrie Arts and those we represent, thank you for investing us all in and with arts and culture.

damian lopes, chair

Barrie Arts Council

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