In his defence of the billboard-industry lobby, Marcus Gee is missing the point (A $10-Million Shakedown In The Name Of Art - Dec. 1). Three points, actually:
(1) The rationale for levying a tax on billboards is to secure a public benefit in exchange for use of public space. Unlike most forms of advertising (magazines, radio, TV etc.), billboards don't offer content in exchange for the public's attention;
(2) The artists and activists working in support of the billboard tax are young people volunteering their time for a public benefit. This is a good news story in a big city where apathy is a more frequent complaint than public participation;
(3) Requesting that funds raised go to support the arts ensures a tangible public impact. While the $10-million projected to be raised by the tax is a tiny percentage of the city's budget, it represents a significant increase to arts investment. Given Toronto's very low levels of arts support in comparison to other major North American centres, increasing support for the arts would be an excellent investment for the city.
, executive director, Toronto Arts CouncilReport Typo/Error
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