Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Public Subsidies Are Commonplace

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Mar 06, 2007

Letter to the editor of the Times & Transcript, sent last Friday, published today.

It should not be surprising to see Halifax and Prince Edward Island investing public money in order to attract musical acts such as Faith Hill and Aerosmith.

It is a common practice for governments to subsidize events that may become tourist draws. Subsidies and sponsorships for sporting events are commonplace, for example. That is how we are obtaining a stadium for the upcoming track and field event.

Governments also subsidize such things as conventions, conferences and trade shows. Hence the request from the City of Moncton for such facilities as a Convention Centre and replacement for the Colosseum. Even the recent Hub Cap Comedy festival received municipal support.

These events are sponsored by governments with the recognition that there will be a long-term payoff both for the city and for the government that sponsored them. That is why governments at all levels invest in these events. And it is working; my property value has increased 40 percent in just four years, and my taxes correspondingly.

The entire community needs the exposure and income these events bring. When I am speaking internationally, it brings me pride, and subtly underscores my point, to be able to talk about the Rolling Stones concert. We are represented as a city of progress and prosperity. A city looking forward to the future rather than cowering in the past.

The Times & Transcript is walking on thin ice questioning public support for musical events. Its petty campaign against our regional rivals threatens to undermine our investments in ourselves. We need to be able to bring forward every resource at our disposal, not to be limited by some self-styled campaign of funding purism.

We should not be concerned about what our neighbours are doing. Let's focus on what we are doing, and how we can do it better. Let's stand behind the people who take risks in our city by lending our support to their efforts, not by knocking down their rivals.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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