Museums should be saved for cultural identity's sake

A Town Crier Community Column

The City of Toronto boasts a rich cultural fabric and history, a unique past preserved through the city’s heritage museums. From High Park’s Colborne Lodge to Gibson House in North York, these historic gems are an example of Toronto’s pride and dedication to preserving our cultural history for future generations.

As the city’s designated spokesperson for our museums, I support preserving Toronto’s heritage and am actively involved in finding alternate cost delivery methods and efficiencies to address the budgetary challenges we are facing. I also believe there are further opportunities to market and cross-promote our heritage institutions to engage both residents and visitors with Toronto’s cultural identity.

Recently, the media has reported the city is looking to close several of Toronto’s heritage museums as a part of the strategy to address our budget gap. During the September special council meeting, in response to a recommendation that may have resulted in closures, I took the lead on this issue and put forward a motion to examine the economic viability of not-for-profit organizations operating city-owned museums.

The recommendation I put forward passed with the support of 40 out of 44 councillors and would allow access to federal and provincial capital grants open to non-profit organizations. The Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, and the Canada Cultural Investment Fund are two such grants that Toronto’s heritage museums would have access to if operated by not-for-profits.

Cities across North America and Europe have successfully used this method of museum management — utilizing their local cultural associations and societies to maintain and support the funding of their heritage museums.

As the city works through our fiscal challenges, I believe there is an exciting opportunity for revitalization and creative thinking as we look for new ways to profile our museums, engage Toronto’s diverse communities and showcase our unique heritage as a vital part of our city’s cultural identity.

About this article:

By: Jaye Robinson
Posted: Dec 15 2011 3:54 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto