Paying for Art with Billboards


Beautiful City is a new campaign based out of Toronto that is trying to persuade the city to create a tax for billboards that would do the following:

  1. A historical 53% increase to the annual municipal funding available to all artists, festivals and arts institutions,
  2. Close to $100 000.00 dollars for public realm improvement for each Toronto ward, every year — for projects such as greening,
  3. Almost a 1/3 of a million dollars for each of the 13 priority neighbourhoods to fund accessible youth arts programming, and
  4. Hiring 17 dedicated officers to enforce the new billboard bylaw.

The premise of the campaign is that billboard advertising, unlike all other forms of advertising, provides no content to the public in exchange for taking up public space (editorial to advertising ratios for TV is 75/25, for print is usually 50/50 but for billboards is 0 to 100).

Sounds like a fairly genius idea. What other ways could we think of generating new revenue for arts organizations in the city, given the likely continuing or eventual decline of funding for the arts in the city?

[via View on Canadian Art / image of Three Billboards About Love by Peter Fuss]