Hundreds of arts supporters gathered at Ottawa City Hall Tuesday to mount a campaign to protest a city staff recommendation that would cut about $4 million in arts, cultural and heritage spending.

Although the city faces a $35-million shortfall in their next budget, the arts community says cutting millions from arts spending could see many of the city's festivals and cultural events cancelled. Arts leaders say that means the city could stand to lose more money than it would save.

"Nobody wants to pay more taxes, we get that. The point is that culture is one of the things that drives the economy of a healthy city, helps bring a lot of revenue into the city," said Julian Armour of the Canadian Tulip Festival.

"It's like a house of cards. You could lose provincial funding, federal funding, start losing volunteers, leadership people start to walk away, and all of a sudden a group becomes very fragile and we are very fearful these organizations will close," added Peter Honeywell, of the Ottawa Council for the Arts.

The protest is a stark reminder of a 2004 campaign that prevented similar cuts to the city budget. Four years later, many in the arts community say they can't help but feel betrayed by city council.

"Why are we doing this again? Something in this city is wrong," said Honeywell.

The public will get their say on the issue in the next stage of the debate.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Natalie Pierosara