Image via flickr / Kiril Strax
City artists and and cultural organizations rejoice as money from the billboard tax starts to come in by the millions. The idea to tax billboards and give back to the city of Toronto by means of arts funding came from freelance curator, Devon Ostrom. Inspired by graffiti on a billboard, Ostrom wondered why there was no benefit to the public for putting up with these road-side advertisements and thus the tax was born.
The Third Party Sign Tax, as it is officially known, was met with resistance from the billboard industry after being passed by city council in 2009. The industry took legal action and went so far as to bring the case to the Supreme Court of Canada, who heard none of it. The billboard tax passed and so begun the collection of money, but until now the funds have been flowing into the city’s general revenue stream.
So far the tax has brought in $6 million, which Councillor Gary Crawford wants to use to increase the 2013 arts budget and with strong support from the city’s executive committee, it’s likely to pass in today’s budget vote. After the initial injection of cash, an additional $17 million would be incorporated into the budget over the next 4 years increasing Toronto’s per capita arts spending from $18.30 to $25. The artistic community can rejoice after over a decade of pushing for arts funding, and to make matters better, even Rob Ford supports the budget increase.
[via Toronto Star]