*To clarify our statement about cuts to public art in the 2019 budget process:
We thank the Mayor and Council for their support to the Winnipeg Arts Council and thereby to the arts in Winnipeg. In addition to the annual allocation to the Public Art Strategy, the City has invested in public art for two major infrastructure projects. Included in previous fiscal years, the investment in the Southwest Rapid Transit Way and Waverley Underpass totaled just under $2M over five years. The single issue at hand is the $500,000 annual allocation for the Public Art Strategy in the Planning, Property and Development Department’s budget in the 2019 Capital Budget. While Council has indicated that they intend to bring that amount back in 2020, there are no guarantees.


In the 2019 Preliminary Capital Budget, the City cut the $500,000 allocation for the Public Art Program. Though this contribution represents only about one tenth of 1% of the Capital Budget, the diversity, impact and resulting social benefits of Winnipeg’s Public Art Program are renowned as exceptional. The elimination of this budget line in 2019 means an end to plans for family-friendly and neighbourhood-scale artwork across the city, authentic Indigenous representation, spectacular installations at Nuit Blanche’s 10-year anniversary, summer tours and the WITH ART program, which pairs artists with community groups so that families, children, seniors, and newcomers can be involved in making public art.

The elimination of funding for the Public Art Program in the 2019 Capital Budget not only impedes the start of new projects, but also the ongoing management of projects in progress. There is no operating funding provided to the Public Art Program.

Before the vote on March 20, please call and write to the Mayor and the Executive Policy Committee (contact information below) as well as your Councillor, and ask them to reinstate funding for the Public Art Strategy in the 2019 Capital Budget. There is still time to voice your support for the Public Art Program.  Please share widely.


Mayor Brian Bowman, 204-986-5665,

Executive Policy Committee

  • Councillor Matt Allard, 204-290-9976, 
  • Councillor Scott Gillingham, 204-986-5848, 
  • Councillor Cindy Gilroy, 204-986-5951,
  • Councillor Brian Mayes, 204-986-5088,
  • Councillor John Orlikow, 204-986-5236,
  • Councillor Sherri Rollins, 204-986-5878,
  • Deputy Mayor Markus Chambers, 204-986-5920,
  • Acting Deputy Mayor Vivian Santos, 204-986-8401,

Councillor Jeff Browaty, 204-986-5196,
Councillor Ross Eadie, 204-986-5188,
Councillor Kevin Klein, 204-986-5232,
Councillor Janice Lukes, 204-986-6824,
Councillor Shawn Nason, 204-986-8087,
Councillor Devi Sharma, 204-986-5264,
Councillor Jason Shreyer, 204-986-5195, 


More Info

The 2019 Preliminary Capital Budget does not include any funding at all for public art. The annual allocation for public art, including program administration, has been $500,000 since the City adopted the Public Art Policy in 2004. This represents about one tenth of 1% of the Capital Budget. The elimination of this budget line in 2019 not only prevents the start of new projects, but endangers the management of ongoing multi-year projects and programs like WITH ART, which pairs artists with community groups and results in shared creative activity that means families, children, seniors, and newcomers can get involved in making art and bonding with their communities.

While the City of Winnipeg’s investment in public art is less than that of other Canadian centres, the diversity, impact and resulting social benefits of Winnipeg’s Public Art Program are acknowledged as exceptional. When the Creative City Network of Canada - comprised of municipal cultural departments -   started a national program to recognize excellence in public art, it gave the first award to Winnipeg in 2016 in recognition of our innovative leadership in public art programming.

WAC has commissioned a wide-range of meaningful, integrated artworks that are accessible to the people of Winnipeg in many forms all across the City. This includes recent family-friendly projects as you see on the screen. These are the types of projects that, due to this cut, cannot be commissioned in 2019. As a signatory of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord, WAC has enthusiastically embraced the recommendations of the TRC, working with Indigenous communities and artists to build on efforts to create awareness of the rich Indigenous cultures and peoples that are at the roots of our City.

The Winnipeg Arts Council has leveraged the City’s annual allocation to attract significant outside investment to the City’s Public Art Program totaling $836,000 in recent years. This includes contributions from BIZs, Centre Venture, Manitoba’s Unions, the Winnipeg Foundation, private donors and other levels of government. The federal government contributed $500,000 in matching funds to the Homage to the Winnipeg General Strike which we will see installed in Pantages Plaza this summer. All of this money goes directly back into Winnipeg’s economy through the fabricators, engineers, designers, craftspeople, electricians, metal workers, and landscapers who work with our artists. Without the base contribution from the City, there can be no additional funders.

The 2019 plan focuses on more public engagement, Indigenous representation, family-friendly and neighbourhood-scale artwork. It includes presenting interactive temporary works this fall in the Old Market Square and along Waterfront Drive; working with an Indigenous curator to develop a strategy for the innovative display of contemporary Indigenous art; integrating artwork and poetry by local artists into libraries and community centres in neighbourhoods in every corner of the city, as well as providing another community with the opportunity to work with an artist through WITH ART.

There is no operating funding provided to the Public Art Program. Administration costs are included in the annual allocation in the Capital Budget. This puts the position of Public Art Project Manager in jeopardy, despite the Mayor’s statement that this budget “exercise will not involve any layoffs.” The eradication of public art funding this year not only impedes the start of new projects, but also the ongoing management of the projects currently in progress. There is no funding for public education and interpretation of the City’s Public Art Collection. There will be no summer tours, there will be no major spectacle for Nuit Blanche’s 10-year anniversary. Consideration of the quality of life for the people of Winnipeg is negligible in the Preliminary Capital Budget.

If there had been consultation on what was necessary to maintain the multi-year process of completing ongoing Public Art projects without new commissions in 2019, we would not be having this discussion.

The 2019 elimination of funds was described as a political decision rather than a recommendation from the Public Service. The justification mentioned to us in Standing Committee comes from the inclusion of Public Art in major capital projects budgeted in previous years. However, realization of these projects is only possible with ongoing management and administration. And there are no major capital projects planned for 2019.

We ask that the allocation of $500,000 to the City’s Public Art Program be reinstated for 2019.