The 2020-2021 provincial budget was announced last week and offered some much needed good news for artists. Overall, the culture and communications portfolio will receive an additional $1.4 billion in spending, which represents a 12.6% increase compared to 2019-2020 and a jump from 1.22% to 1.31% of total budgetary spending. Of that new spending, an investment of $456.9 million over five years, including $90 million in the first year, will go towards the promotion of Quebec’s cultural specificity. This investment will be divided between three priorities: opening up, creating and exporting Quebec culture ($372 million); supporting cultural and museum institutions ($35 million); and protecting, promoting and enhancing the French language ($50 million). Measures were also announced in response to the current difficulties faced by the music industry as it adapts to the new digital landscape, including an increase of $19.5 million over five years to expand tax credits for sound recordings and show production.
Among Quebec’s arts and culture funding bodies, Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC) will see a significant increase in its budget from $75 million to $129 million, representing a 73% increase compared to 2019-2020. Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) will receive an additional $10 million (8%), including a $1.4 million boost to its grant programs. A total of $310.6 million will be spent by jointly by CALQ, SODEC and the ministère de la Culture et des Communications over five years, including $71.1 million as of 2020-2021, specifically to promote the export of Quebec culture and to enhance its international profile. The government will also invest $34.8 million over five years throughout all regions of the province to create a new cultural infrastructure by repurposing heritage buildings for cultural activities.
In short, these sums represent a significant investment and provide cause for optimism that arts and culture in Quebec will be considered a priority for the Legault government moving forward.