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by Daniel Gloade on August 11, 2014

There is a recent article in The Record.  You can find it here.

If I understand it correctly, there are five large cultural centres in Kitchener- Waterloo.  They are the:

  • Themuseum,
  • Clay and Glass Gallery,
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery,
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and
  • The Grand Philharmonic Choir

These institutions each have its own fund raising organization.  You can contribute to these institutions directly.

The municipal government also funds the Creative Enterprise Initiative.  For now, it is a non-profit start-up designed to improve the arts and culture in the K-W area.   It provides mentorship, studio space etc. for local artists.  It also tries to secure funding for local artists either from private investors or through grants from other levels of government.

I can see the advantage of having one organization to organize fundraising collectively and fund distribution for local artists.  It would free artists to focus on his or her art as opposed to securing income.

The Municipal government is reluctant to provide further funds to the CEI because it has not reached its fundraising targets.  As Counsellor Haalboom said in the article, local businesses “have never heard of it”.

Directors of the CEI argue that they can’t do their job unless they have funding.  It is a “Catch-22”.

The article left out some important context.  CEI administrator’s desire to start a for-profit wing.  The profits are to go back into CEI.   I have some concerns:

  • What will CEI do to make money?  Would tax payer money be used to start a for profit business?  Is this fair competition?
  • Will CEI have charity status?  Is there a tax deduction?  People donating money and expecting nothing in return will want to differentiate themselves clearly from those investors in the for-profit enterprise.
  • Wouldn’t it be simpler if we just used taxpayer money?  We know that the funds will come from profitable private enterprise.  Are municipal government and local volunteers really the best people to start and run a business?

I also have concerns about how CEI raises money from private donors.

First, I believe that the banking arrangements should be organized so that I can write a cheque to a specific theatre, artist or to the Regional Municipality of Waterloo and that the money will go to CEI.  I shouldn’t have to figure out to whom I should write the cheque.  I never heard of CEI apart from the recent controversy.  Of greater concern is that you don’t even make the cheque payable to CEI but to a subgroup “Createscape”).   I only found out about this group from reading the CEI website.

Also, I still want the ability to earmark my contribution to specific endeavours.  My money should not be put into the collective pot if I don’t want it to.

Second, Not all funded CEI activities are charities as defined by Revenue Canada.  I should know if my donation would be a tax deduction.

Third, I think they should change the name.  The funding is for arts and culture.  “Enterprise” and “Creative” are words more frequently used for business.  Creativescape is a better title.  Why not call the whole thing “Createscape”?

Fourth, why does the CEI non-profit need a Board of Directors.  If the funding is from the Municipal Government, then shouldn’t it provide the oversight? I know that counsellors are busy, but please remember that:

  • We are talking about $1 million per year. That is not a huge amount for the government
  • The whole purpose of the article was concerns about the oversight and management of CEI.  The complaints are mismanagement and poor communication between the government and the CEI.  Wouldn’t eliminating the Board of Directors help with direct communication?

Fifth, a business should get credit for investing in the community.  It generates goodwill and company logos are a good form of advertising.  To find out who contributed to CEI, you need to hit a key called “About Us” and then hit a submenu called “Investors”.  People usually do not deliberately seek the names of contributors.  I suspect that many businesses would prefer their logos to be displayed more prominently.

Sixth, there can be better internet connections between CEI and the contributors.  When on the CEI webpage, a company’s logo should be a link to that company’s website.  I have looked at some of the websites of contributors to CEI.  None of them record that they contributed to CEI, even though some businesses list other community contributions.  Why are businesses not showing their support for CEI?  Why are businesses forgoing this advertising?

Seventh, the CEI website lists the Contributors into separate groups.  The groups are: “The Leadership Counsel”, CEI Organizational Ambassador and Investors” or “CEI Professional Services Investors”.  I suspect that few people will know that these investors gave to their community or know the difference between these types of groups.

I acknowledge that many people have contributed their time and money in this organization.  These points are merely feedback regarding why fundraising has fallen short of target.

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