Tag Archives: Rich Coleman

Globe and Mail poll: should gaming grants to arts be restored?

This was a poll that ran in the Globe and Mail in October. Pretty definitive. After last year’s gaming grant cuts, during which almost all arts organizations in the province were made entirely ineligible for grants, many jobs were lost in the arts. There is a legally binding agreement between the BC government and charities (of which the arts were a founding member) dictating that a significant portion of gaming revenues would go to arts and other charities. The BC government has never extinguished this agreement and yet is not abiding by it. We have been calling for return of these funds – especially in the context of the huge expansion of gambling in this province – to no avail. It seems that the public agrees with us. Restore the funds. British Columbians gamble believing their money is going to charities. It mostly isn’t. The public ought to be made aware of this fact.

Sign the BCACG’s petition here. The BC Ass’n of Charitable Gaming is the organization that advocates for all charities receiving gaming funds. Thank you.

BCACG asks BC Auditor General to Investigate Coleman’s cuts to Charities

The BC Association For Charitable Gaming has formally asked the BC Auditor General to look into the BC government’s failure to live up to the 1999 Memorandum of Agreement which legally binds it to hand over 1/3 of all BC gaming revenues to BC’s charities and non-profits (including arts). The Agreement has never been honoured nor has it been extinguished by any subsequent legislation. It seems that there is a strong legal case against the government, and the Auditor General is being asked to rule on the matter. The mission of the office of the Auditor General is “To serve the people of British Columbia and their elected representatives by conducting independent audits and advising on how well government is managing its responsibilities and resources.”

As you may know, more than half of government investment in the arts came from these gaming funds until last year’s cuts, when the arts were excluded from all gaming revenue. This happened entirely at Minister Coleman’s discretion. In fact, the non-transparent and entirely discretionary nature of the use of billions of dollars in Gaming revenues should really be subject to an inquiry, above and beyond the $1.3 billion in arrears that appears to be owed to BC’s non-profit sector.

The media release:

Charities Seek Auditor-General Investigation into Government Use of Gaming Proceeds

Today the BC Association for Charitable Gaming asks the provincial Auditor General to investigate the provincial government’s administration and distribution of gaming proceeds transferred to it from the BC Lottery Corporation.

According to a revenue-sharing formula with municipalities and the charitable sector, 33.3% of net charitable gaming revenues are owed to charities.

The provincial government has failed to account for its receipts to the BCACG, and has failed to distribute to charities an amount in excess of $1 billion owing under its own agreements over the last 10 years.

We ask the Auditor General for an accounting of those funds and a determination of the status of the province’s outstanding liability to BC charities.

The charitable sector has actively supported the BC Lottery Corporation’s numerous applications to expand gaming across the province, having been assured that this support would bring critically needed revenues to the charitable sector. Despite provincial gaming revenues doubling over the last ten years, none of the proceeds of expanded gaming have gone to the charitable sector, and proceeds from the provincial government are now millions of dollars below 1995 levels.

We ask for direction that the BCACG and the public are entitled to full, clear, and consistent reporting of BC Lottery Corporation revenues from all sources, the provincial government’s calculation of total gaming grants, and consultation respecting the distribution of grants across the province.

We seek a determination that BC charities’ share of gaming net revenues are held by the provincial government as a form of trust and, in accordance with trust principles, should not be commingled with tax revenues and treated as discretionary proceeds within in the provincial Consolidated Revenue Fund.

We seek a finding that proceeds to charities are not currently distributed in accordance with the independent, transparent, and accountable standard required of trust administration.

We ask the Auditor General further to investigate whether the provincial government has misused its authority as trustee of funds payable to BC charities by interfering in the eligibility process for political purposes.

Open Letter from the BCACG to Minister Rich Coleman


Rich Coleman, Minister for Housing and Social Development (responsible for Gaming)

This damning Open Letter from the British Columbia Association For Charitable Gaming to Minister Rich Coleman concerns the legality of Coleman’s sweeping cuts to charities and non-profits across BC. These organizations include arts and culture organizations. Coleman recently claimed there was no legal agreement with charities, only an “understanding.” This is patently untrue.

Please read the letter. For further information on the legality question and the history of gaming and charities in BC, read the fascinating associated brief. (If you are a serious legal geek, see this on the government’s site.)

What can you do?

1. Post the item to your Facebook profile, and pleas “Like” the BCACG’s Page.
2. If you are a Vancouver resident, *please* sign the petition to Vancouver City Hall!
3. Write to Rich Coleman. Tell him what you think of his cavalier attitude to Gaming funds. The people of British Columbia did not intend Gaming revenues to become a slush fund entirely at his discretion. Remind the Minister, politely of course, that he works for us, not the other way around.

October 15, 2010

Open Letter to Minister Rich Coleman

Dear Minister Coleman,

We write on behalf of the nearly 7000 B.C. charities affected by gaming grants. These groups include the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Deaf Children’s Society, Surrey Hospice Society, North Shore Rescue Team, Horsefly Volunteer Fire Department, Pacific Post Partum Support Society, Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre, Charlie Lake PAC, Campbell River Minor Hockey, Cerebral Palsy Sport Association, and thousands more worthwhile community causes across B.C.

Our members, tens of thousands of them, are at work 7 days a week, 365 days a year, helping the poor, the weak and vulnerable, the elderly, disabled, the bullied child, sports teams, the arts, refugees and immigrants, and our environment. They man crisis lines, deliver Meals on Wheels, and search for the lost in our mountains and forests. We could not ever afford to buy what our charities and non-profits give us for free. We cannot live without them, and they never stop giving of themselves, no matter how hard it gets.

On Friday, October 15, you were asked to comment on our request to Vancouver City Council to postpone hearing any application to expand the gambling licenses relating to the planned Edgewater Casino redevelopment and expansion, pending the provincial government agreeing to honour its agreement to allocate 33.3% of net gaming revenues to B.C. charities.

You said that there was no agreement, only a letter of understanding, and that you have other bills to pay.

Minister Coleman, you are mistaken.

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61% of Vancouver Island Gaming “Arts and Culture” Grants Bound for Other Purposes


Photo: Bill Horne

Below is the full press release from a group of concerned arts supporters on Vancouver Island:

61% of Vancouver Island Gaming “Arts and Culture” Grants Bound for Other Purposes

For immediate use

From: Bill Jamieson, Connie Foss More, DolaDubé – concerned members of the Arts community

Date: September 16, 2010

Contact: Bill Jamieson, CA,     phone: 250-370-1067  email

(others, if needed, are Connie Foss More  here and Dola Dubé  here.)

According to a Press Release issued by the B.C. Gaming Branch on September 3, the government has restored funding to Arts and Culture groups on Vancouver Island through B.C. Gaming’s “Arts, Culture and Heritage” programme. “Pipers and painters, choristers and curators will share $662,740 in Community Gaming Grants supporting youth arts and culture, fairs, festivals and museums on Vancouver Island,” states the Minister.

Refer to: http://www.hsd.gov.bc.ca/gaming/news/index.htm

However, even the most cursory review of the list of successful applicants suggests otherwise.

Cont’d…..

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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!

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)

The BC government’s arts funding “shell game” explained

The BC Liberal government has been playing a “shell game” with arts funding – that is, moving funds around by sleight-of-hand. And as it moves funds around, it manages to reduce their total sum at every step, meanwhile pretending that this is not in fact happening (see video above). This explanation was first printed here.

First, you need to know that arts are funded via 3 sources in BC. These are the 3 “shells” in the shell game:

1. Gaming funds. These are known as “Direct Access” funds and derive from lotteries and gambling. (There are also funds from Bingo, and these are on the verge of being cut too). All of these funds are mandated to be distributed directly to arts organizations and other charities; gambling was only legalized in this province with the understanding that a significant proportion of gambling/gaming monies would be returned to charities in the communities.

2. BC tax revenues, distributed to the arms-length BC Arts Council (BCAC), which in turn distributes funds to artists and arts organizations. The government also on occasion distributes our tax money directly (not necesssarily through the BCAC) to special festivals or one-time events or special projects.

3. The 150 Cultural Fund. This was a $150 million endowment to the BC Arts Council in 2008 (BC’s 150th birthday) meant to generate at least 7.5 million annually for the BCAC. Due to the economic downturn it generated only about $3.5 million last year, but even 7.5 million wouldn’t be enough to fund the BCAC. It’s not a cash infusion and as far as arts organizations are concerned, it’s unavailable.

Now, how were the cuts made and how was the shell game played? … cont’d.

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