Tag Archives: Gordon Campbell

Letter to Minister Krueger from George Zukerman, Order of Canada, Order of BC

Excellent open letter to Minister Krueger, cc’d to Premier Campbell, from George Zukerman, internationally renowned musician and respected member of BC’s classical music community. He is the recipient of the Order of Canada and Order of BC in recognition of national and international performances. Mr. Zukerman lives in Surrey, B.C.

Hon. Kevin Krueger
Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts
Constituency Office
9—111 Oriole Road
Kamloops, BC   V2C 4N6

Dear Minister Krueger:

I want to express my grave concerns at the severity of the funding cuts recently imposed on much of the  BC Arts Community.

Over the past thirty five years The BC Arts Council has worked in trusted collaboration with Arts organizations throughout British Columbia, assisting with annual operating expenses  and investing in the essential task of building infrastructures to last for the benefit of future generations. The Arts Community learned to trust the  Council even when funds were limited. Through the Cultural Services Branch, it became known as a responsive agency which maintained as even a hand as possible in its ongoing distribution of available monies.

The draconian  cuts recently imposed coupled with the elimination of gaming grants for cultural organizations has left the BC arts world reeling.  I recognize that when cuts have to be made, very often somebody down the line suffers  inordinately.  It is not always possible to make all cuts equally across the board.  But I cannot believe that any government would knowingly wish  to inflict such serious harm  on some of the very organizations which it has nurtured for so many previous  years. Did you know, for instance, that the Prince George Symphony—a vital Northern musical resources for the entire Northern region as well as for the City of PG—has been cut off from its entire 2010-2011 BC Arts Council operating grant?  Your own Kamloops Symphony has been slashed to 43% of normal operating grant.

Curiously, this is all happening at exactly the time that the BC Government has announced its special $30,000,000 Legacy fund, designed (according to the declaration on Page 2 of the 2010  budget statement) to “enhance existing provincial arts investments in  arts and culture.” There is even  a side-bar with a smiling theatre-logo which adds “$30 Million for Provincial Arts Investments.” (We have little enough to smile about, these days!)

Bravo!  The intent of Cabinet in its  budget-plan seems clear enough. Investment. But somewhere down the line, the good intentions have become tangled in a morass of confused and confusing regulations. It appears that most of the new fund is linked to a series of time-limited celebrations of  the legacy of the 2010 Cultural Olympiad.

It is a wonderful thing to celebrate our Olympic success. A good example is the Canada Line to the airport which leaves a permanent Olympic legacy. In the Arts we also want to celebrate with something permanent. There are more pressing needs than a glorious block party.

Public policy,  as announced in the Budget Statement, cannot and should not be changed. But hastily devised regulations which specify how Arts funding should be distributed can—and should—be amended. At the same time this would reassert  the crucial  “arm’s length” separation  between government and its funding agencies.

It really is not too late for your Government to alter these regulations, and devote at least some  portion of the annual Legacy Fund to the BC Arts Council.  This might begin to make up for some of the deepest and most injurious  cuts.  There are so many of them—and you’ve probably heard from them all! Think about it—in  a simple move, much of the damage  inadvertently inflicted  on the arts community would be undone. The intent of the Budget statement would be fulfilled, and the Olympic memory would still live on!

I hope you might agree that it would be enlightened self-interest to allow the Arts to flourish with this small new investment. The alternative is that they will languish  because of ill-advised cuts. Many of them will not survive. Who knows—with a move in the right direction, the Chair of the BC Arts Council, who recently resigned over this issue, might be persuaded to return.

Sincerely,

George Zukerman, O.C. O.B.C.
Surrey, B.C.

c.c   Hon Gordon Campbell
Victoria office
Room 301
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC  V8W 9E2

Letter to Premier Campbell from the Canadian Conference of the Arts

The full text of an unprecedented letter from the Canadian Conference of the Arts to Premier Gordon Campbell (courtesy The Alliance for Arts and the Georgia Straight):

August 20th, 2010

Dear Premier Campbell,

Re: Cuts to the BC arts sector

I am writing again to you today on behalf of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA) to express our deep concerns about the devastating cuts of provincial support to the arts and culture communities of British Columbia, as well as about the resignation of the widely respected BC Arts Council Chair, Ms. Jane Danzo.

As the largest and oldest Canada-wide organization in the arts, culture and heritage sector, the CCA does not often intervene in issues of provincial concern. Founded 65 years ago, the CCA’s mission is to be the national forum for the sector and to document and promote the development and implementation of cultural policies at the federal level. Our goal is to encourage and foster the health and growth of this important sector within Canada and to enhance the cultural life of Canadians.

However, we cannot remain silent when we hear how your government abandons its support to arts and culture organizations in British Columbia, many of which are members of ours. Past investments by BC governments, while for decades amongst the lowest per capita in Canada, have yielded remarkable results. Your province ranks amongst the first in Canada for the number and the quality of its artists and creators, notably in the visual arts, who have gained your province and the country an international reputation.

Last year’s success of the BC Scene event at the National Arts Centre was a clear illustration of the incredible talent and creative power of your province’s artistic community. And if further proof were required, all three levels of government recognized the importance of arts and culture by investing considerable sums of money to showcase Canadian and British Columbian talent at the Cultural Olympiad during the very successful Winter Olympics, thus confirming the contribution the arts make to Canada’s image abroad.

It bears repeating once again that the arts and culture sector is at the vanguard of the shift to a post-industrial economy which must be strategically guided by Canada’s various levels of government. According to documents produced by your own Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, BC’s arts and culture sector employs close to 80 000 people and contributes over $5 billion to the provincial economy. BC has the largest percentage of its labour force in arts occupations and, as such, ranks first amongst the ten provinces. The arts are a growth sector in most Canadian cities and Vancouver boasts the third largest concentration of professional artists in Canada.

Moreover, British Columbia’s population represents much of the cultural diversity that increasingly characterizes Canadian society. As such, investing in the arts and culture sector should be a strong component of your government’s strategy to tap this inexhaustible natural resource to advance creativity, boost the economy, lead to greater social cohesion and contribute to our identity as a nation.

In this context, we are appalled to hear the extremely severe financial cuts that BC arts organizations are being hit with further to your government’s decisions, both through cuts to the budget of the BCAC and through the elimination of support from gaming grants. This is made particularly dramatic given the fact that like the rest of the arts and culture sector across the country, those organizations still have to feel the full impact of the recent recession.  We are equally concerned that major policy shifts, made without consultation with the BC Arts Council, have set irresponsible and indefensible precedents.

On that front, we want to reassert the importance of the arm’s length relationship which must exist between governments, politicians and cultural granting agencies. Arts and politics do not mix well: this is why so many countries, including Canada and most provinces, have established independent Arts Councils and rely on peer jury systems as the best possible way of granting money to artists and cultural organizations. This is a characteristic of healthy democracies and remains the best way to encourage innovation and creativity in a nation. Like our colleagues in BC, we applaud Ms. Danzo’s courageous decision to resign in protest of both the drastic cuts imposed by your government and the fact that BCAC does not possess the independence normally given to such granting agencies.

For all those reasons, we find it ill-advised that provincial investments in the arts and culture sector be drastically and unfairly cut to help balance the books. With all due respect, we submit that this is a strategic error that will have negative impacts not only on tourism and economic development but also severely compromise the role your province plays in defining Canadian identity at home and abroad.

The Canadian Conference of the Arts therefore urges you and your government to think of the long-term interests of British Columbians and to reverse the current policy regarding the arts, which can only be described as short-view and contrary to the interests not only of British Columbians but of all Canadians. We also submit that the BC Arts Council should be restructured on the model of other Arts Councils in Canada and in other countries and enjoy the independence which is necessary to a thriving arts community.

Yours truly,

Kathleen Sharpe

President

CC
The Hon. Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts
The Hon. Colin Hansen, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier

The Province
The Vancouver Sun
The Georgia Straight
The Victoria News
The Times Colonist

PAARC’s Statement on Jane Danzo’s Resignation from the BC Arts Council

Following is the press release from the Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres (PAARC) on Jane Danzo’s resignation letter from the BC Arts Council. Thanks to PAARC for letting us reprint the release:

18 August 2010 – For Immediate Release

In recent months, the B.C. Arts Council has been subjected to an unprecedented amount of political interference, something former Arts Council chair Jane Danzo called attention to in her letter of resignation, made public yesterday evening. This political interference, taking the form of a direct assault on the arms-length nature of the council, should be of concern to all British Columbians. The B.C. government has disproportionately cut funding that used to support cultural activity and services in our communities (overall, by 50% to 70%), and now seeks to replace that money with politically-directed money from a Legacy Program. Not only will no money will be saved by this action, the democratic nature of cultural expression will be significantly impaired.

It is widely suspected in the arts community that this interference is an attempt by government to convert the arts and culture in B.C. into a tool to be mobilized for partisan political ends, rather than an essential outgrowth of, and benefit to, our communities. Furthermore, it is believed by some that this attempt to manage culture directly by political fiat originates in the office of the Premier.

It is incumbent upon the Premier and the government caucus to refute this theory, not by mere denial, but by demonstrating a strong commitment to arts funding at arms-length from political operatives, and by reversing the disastrous, reckless and wasteful decisions identified in Ms. Danzo’s letter.

Keith Higgins
President, Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres

A copy of Ms. Danzo’s resignation letter can be found here: http://stopbcartscuts.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/jane-danzo-chair-of-bc-arts-council-resignation-letter/


BC youth artists, organizers of the IGNITE! youth-driven arts festival, protest BC arts cuts

Every Monday a group of 20 young arts enthusiasts meet at The Vancouver East Cultural Centre (the Cultch) to organize IGNITE!, Vancouver’s youth-driven arts festival. For a week in May The Cultch becomes the epicentre of youth art in the city, as over 250 young artists take to the stage to showcase their talent.

This year, the group decided that they wanted to do something to protest the cuts to provincial arts funding. Together they have written a letter and had it signed by 380 young people from the Lower Mainland asking the provincial government to reconsider the proposed arts cuts. They have sent this to Premier Gordon Campbell and Ministers Hansen, Coleman and Krueger.

It’s hard not to look at his and not feel slightly more optimistic about the future of BC. Thanks to IGNITE! and the Vancouver East Cultural Centre for this project. Larger resolution version of this photo can be found here. For the text of their letter, click below.

Continue reading

Peter Ladner, publisher of Business in Vancouver, speaks out against the cuts

Here is the full text of Peter Ladner’s article, from its original source at Business in Vancouver:


Liberal-arts cuts are bad for B.C.’s economy
Friday, 11 December 2009

It’s hard to understand what the BC Liberals were thinking when they chose arts and culture to take such a huge hit in the struggle to keep the province on track financially.

Artists talking to businesspeople feel compelled to make the economic case for what they do. Although they’re a sideshow to the real contribution of the arts, those numbers are impressive: a payback of $1.05 to $1.36 for every dollar invested; $12 in economic spinoffs for every dollar spent on the arts. My experience is that the small amount of money contributed by the province leverages not just matching funding but thousands of volunteer and unpaid hours from people who care passionately about what they do, building the social capital that is vital to any place that purports to be “the best place on Earth.”

There is a bigger financial picture, too.

The arts are the infrastructure for a creative economy. Why would we be lowering taxes to attract new businesses and mobile employees, especially in the burgeoning new- media industries, while we undermine the performing artists and organizations that feed those industries and pull creative people into this province?

“By reinventing our province as a cultural centre in the world … we … effectively distinguish our cultural identity in the global economy in ways that would ensure B.C.’s continued prosperity,” said PUSH Festival director Norman Armour. “To the province’s young professionals – emerging artists, administrators and technicians – who are now considering, as I did 20 years ago, the difficult, life-determining decision of whether they should lay down roots here, stick it out or simply pack up and leave – what can I say?”

After touring the province, one of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services’ 49 recommendations was to “make funding of the arts a high priority in the 2010-11 budget by returning to overall actual funding levels of 2008-09.”

That would bring it up to 1/20th of 1% of the total budget.

The government argues that it gave the B.C. Arts Council $150 million last year in a big-burst endowment intended to provide stable funding for the future. The problem is that the proceeds, expected to be $7.5 million a year, are at half that amount because of low returns. The same problem is afflicting foundations that support the arts, with at least one liquidating its capital to keep money flowing to arts organizations that would otherwise disappear.

Provincial funding to the arts is down 50% this year. Approximately 85% to 90% of the cuts are scheduled for 2010-11 – from $47 million to $3 million – and that’s from a starting point of contributing only 7% of operating budgets of performing-arts organizations, the lowest in Canada, where the average is almost twice that.

The 2010 Olympic Games rings a hollow bell with its rich cultural festivities and promises to lure tourists, framed as they are by the gutting of performing-arts support.

Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman said his priority for gambling revenue is support for low-income, disabled and at-risk people.

“So often we talk about children at risk and the vulnerable in our society,” said Yulanda Faris, arts philanthropist, chair of the Vancouver Opera Foundation, honorary chair of Judith Marcuse Dance Projects, at a recent rally. “The arts have the force and the dynamism to help everyone across the board: rich, poor, sick, whomever. We have the tools and we are part of the solution.”

Bob D’Eith, executive director of the Music BC Industry Association, tells the story of Winston Churchill’s finance minister asking to cut arts funding to support the Second World War effort.

“Then what are we fighting for?” was Churchill’s response.

Peter Ladner ( pladner@biv.com) is a founder of Business in Vancouver and a former Vancouver city councillor.

Note:

Peter Ladner’s article provides a great set of briefing notes for anyone willing to call or write their MLAs. Have you ever called your MLA? It’s surprisingly easy to do, and probably more effective than even writing a personal letter. Now that the BC legislature is out of session until late January, the MLAs are back in their constituency offices in their home ridings. You can call and talk to them, or go in and visit. If they’re not in, you can leave a message. They’re your MLAs – they must respond to you. Please make it clear to them in rational terms what these cuts are going to mean for your community, both economically and socially. Thank you!

Fun facts and figures – Arts vs. Olympics

The BC arts cuts issue might technically be separate from the Olympic spending issue, but it’s becoming impossible to turn a blind eye to the fact that a huge amount of money is being found for the Olympics, while apparently $47 million or more can’t be found for the arts because “hungry children” have to be fed. Let’s look at some really striking numbers.

Olympics:

COST: $6.5-8 billion approx = Total estimated cost of Olympics (not including near-$1 bn convention centre)

BENEFIT: $4 billion –  UPDATE: now $1 billion –  Predicted Olympic economic benefits, downgraded this year from an earlier prediction of 8-10 billion, then downgraded to $4bn, and then downgraded again in Dec 2009/Jan 2010 to $1 bn.

Arts:

COST: $47 million = Total cost of arts funding BEFORE the cuts (2008 figures used here because 2009 saw abrupt Gaming cuts in the middle of the year, meaning a decrease of 40% in that already paltry $47 million. And 2008 is the most recent year we have tax figures for). 47 million is the bare minimum required to grease the wheels of an already lean arts sector, especially for smaller organizations and groups in smaller towns and remote regions

BENEFIT: $5.2 billion = Total contribution of the arts sector to the BC economy, annually – and that’s taxes only, not including arts and culture’s many proven economic spinoffs

It appears that BC’s golden egg is not the Olympics – it’s the arts. Which of the two is worth a sizeable seed investment? As an aside, Ontario increased its arts funding to over $150 million this year, because it understands the increasingly central role of arts and culture in the global economy. Aren’t the BC Liberals  supposed to be the party of good economic management, putting the economy first?

When the BC government agreed that arts and culture were the “Second Pillar of the Games,” the arts sector didn’t realize that the BC Liberals intended  to allow the full weight of the Olympics to crush arts and culture altogether. Thanks to these cuts, BC’s arts sector will be a crumbling pillar, and BC’s 78,000 arts workers (more numerous than forestry workers) will certainly feel unwilling or unable to support to an event that has shut them out. As a sector, the arts already enjoys a smaller share of government help or subsidy than any other. And yet the arts’ tax contribution to BC’s GDP is enormous. And that’s only the economic contribution made by our homegrown arts  - there’s also the vast and indispensable social role that arts have been proven to play in BC, for social health, peace, liveability of all communities large and small, tolerance, innovation and for ensuring that we retain our distinct identity.

When the BC government argues it has to feed hungry children instead of stewarding a key sector, when it claims that it can’t afford spending for arts, education, health and other necessities, even while it finds billions for a 2-week event, it’s demonstrating its economic incompetence and irresponsibility. And given its claims that there’s no money left, it’s pretty galling to watch it so easily come up with, to give just one example, $486 million for a retractable stadium roof. Perhaps its priorities are its friends in construction, or maybe in corporate sports? And yet its supposed Olympics profits have melted away. Meanwhile arts & culture and tourism, two of the global economic system’s most promising growth industries – and two enormous future opportunities for BC – take huge hits in BC through a) a blind lack of arts policy, and b) an HST attack on arts revenues as well as tourism’s predominantly small businesses.

Are members of the BC government’s caucus really willing to countenance the increasingly disturbing economic story revealed by these numbers?

Arts cuts needs to be reversed immediately before damage to infrastructure and brain drain become irreversible. One after another, arts organizations are folding. If something isn’t done soon, that Second Pillar is going to look pretty broken by the the time the Olympics get here. The government’s own Finance Committee has recommended a reversal of arts cuts, but there is absolutely no guarantee the government will listen to these recommendations and reverse its position in March. We need assurances now, before any more crucial community organizations close their doors.

Write a letter (sample letters here or easy webform here ) to the Premier and the Ministers, especially Finance Minister Colin Hansen:

Premier Gordon Campbell
gordon.campbell.mla@leg.bc.ca
Fax: 250 387-0087

MLA: Hon. Kevin Krueger (Min. of Tourism, Culture & the Arts)
kevin.krueger.mla@leg.bc.ca
Fax: 250 953-4250

MLA: Hon. Rich Coleman (Gaming) – retraction of Gaming funds for arts charities
rich.coleman.mla@leg.bc.ca
Fax: 250 356-7292

MLA: Hon. Colin Hansen (Min. of Finance)
colin.hansen.mla@leg.bc.ca

Sources:
The Tyee – November 2009
The Vancouver Sun – January 2009

Recommendation from the Finance Committee to Restore Arts Funding!

Budget Standing Committee Recommendations Report 2010

The arts sector would like to thank the committee for its recommendations to restore arts funding! While it’s true that this development means nothing unless and until these recommendations are heeded by Campbell, Finance Min. Colin Hansen and all those keeping an abritrary grip on the Treasury, nevertheless it’s a good step. The crucial next step is for everyone to actually contact their MLA’s and insist that these recommendations be followed.

Many people from the arts and culture sector contributed to the “torrent” of mail and presentations mentioned in the report, and they deserve everyone’s thanks. The Alliance for Arts and Culture made a strong presentation, and so did a huge number of artists and directors of organizations throughout BC. Keith Higgins produced a brilliant letter-writing webform that resulted in an outpouring of letters to the committee. Finally, thanks to everyone who wrote letters on their own or came out to the Grey Rally outside the October Budget Meeting in downtown Vancouver.

Below is the arts-funding-related section excerpted from the Report on the Budget 2010 Consultations by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, released today:

Arts Funding

Representatives of B.C.’s arts and culture community came out in full force this year to make a common plea for the restoration of arts funding. They were well represented at our public hearings, in the written submissions received, as well as in a torrent of form letters submitted electronically. Most submissions on this topic requested the government to reexamine its decision to reprioritize
the distribution of Direct Access gaming grants and to restore funding to the B.C Arts Council to 2008/09 levels. We encourage the government to examine ways to restore funding to the arts and culture sector. Here is a sample of the comments we received:

“Public investment in the arts allows community-based arts organizations to leverage money from other sectors and also leverages the social capital of thousands of volunteer hours of activity – resulting in healthier, happier, economically-competitive and livable communities.” (Amir Ali Alibhai, Alliance for Arts and Culture, Surrey public hearing)

“We urge the provincial government to demonstrate strength and leadership to forward and maintain the progress that has assiduously been achieved. Allow British Columbia to celebrate its cultural accomplishments and identity and shine.” (Joanna Maratta, British Columbia Touring Council, Nelson video conference session)

“Our communities definitely need the infrastructure that our governments create and support, such as health care, education, roads, industry, business, but we also need the cultural events and experiences in our lives that stir our emotions, nourish our soul, broaden our minds and define us as a society, especially in this difficult economic time.” (Ken Eng, Bulkley Valley Concert Association, Smithers public hearing)

“Ballet Kelowna strongly urges the government to recognize the value of the arts in our province, to seriously reconsider its arts funding policies, to reinstate Direct Access Gaming Grants and to maintain its commitment to the British Columbia Arts Council.” (David LaHay, Ballet Kelowna, Kelowna public hearing)

For the record, we reproduce the recommendations made to the Committee by the B.C. Arts Council:

· “Providing an appropriated budget as per our Act (plus the BC150 Cultural Fund earnings) to the Arts Council. The use of the appropriated budget carries significant meaning to the arts and cultural community as it signals that arts and culture are part of the “main budgeting process.”

Budget Priorities

· In the event the Council funds are to again come from Gaming, we strongly recommend that government make a single grant to the Council who could then do what they are mandated to do – allocate grants in a fair and transparent manner focusing on excellence. Having the funds come directly from Council would eliminate much of the unintended consequences that are currently a source of concern and confusion.

· Restore the budgets of both the BC Arts Council and the arts and cultural community component of the Community Gaming Grants Program to at least the level of 2008/09 to allow the arts community to begin to build upon the legacy of the 2010 Olympics. The 2010 Olympics provide our province with such a wonderful “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to showcase not only the athletes, but the breadth and depth of arts and cultural activities that make British Columbia such a great place to live, work and visit. Without at least the level of funding provided in 2008/09 it will be next to impossible for the arts and cultural community to seize the opportunities presented by the 2010 Olympics.

· Develop and announce a long term strategy to strengthen the support for the arts and cultural community of British Columbia as the province works it way out of the current fiscal difficulties. The BC150 Cultural Fund has provided a valuable foundation, and we are very grateful for this long term support, even as present rates of return have diminished the current impact of this source. At the same time many private donors have reduced their support for all not-for-profit organizations, only compounding the financial issues facing most arts organizations. The arts community is looking for a more positive attitude and increased visible support from government.” (Jane Danzo, B.C. Arts Council, Written submission 670)