Monthly Archives: November 2009

Arts Cuts Memo Contest – Send a memo to the government!

Above, Arts Cuts Ribbon by Fiona Curtis/Steven Brekelmans. Below, Knitted Arts Cuts Memo by knitgirl, and submission from BC composer John Oliver. Tree at bottom is by Anonymous. Click on photos to go to the Flickr page.

Here are the contest details from the Arts Cuts Memo team:

CALLING ALL BRITISH COLUMBIANS! Who can make the most creative “memo” to the BC Liberal government, reminding them that BC arts and culture can’t survive cuts of 92%? The message of the memos is “Restore Arts Funding Now.” It’s a BC-wide contest and collaborative yellow-sticky-art exhibition, and there will be prizes (TBA) for adults and children. If you’re not an artist, that’s even better! It is calculated that there are 3 million arts supporters in BC, whether it’s of music, festivals, galleries, plays, performance art, or literature. Communities all over BC have already been sending strong messages that the arts are at the centre of their communities, both socially and economically. Everyone is imaginative enough to make a creative Arts Cuts Memo to send to the government, reminding them that we don’t want to see the total destruction of arts infrastructure and homegrown arts in our province! Once dismantled it will take decades and far too much money to rebuild.

ArtsCutsMemo by knitgirl - closeup


Using yellow sticky memos/post-it notes, you can make any 2D or 3D object you like – we suggest using at least 20 post-its, but even just one is fine! Paint it, decorate it, anything you like. Just make sure the words “Restore Arts Funding Now” appear somewhere on your piece. Then photograph it and send it to us or upload it from your Flickr to our Flickr pool (instructions below), and you’re done! It would be nice if we could have most of the entries by mid-December, though prize-winners will be announced in January at a date TBA. Even after winners are announced, we will continue collecting them until the budget – because it’s not just about winning! It’s about reminding the government.

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PRIZES – TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON! If prize tickets are in Vancouver, and the winner lives outside Vancouver, a hotel stay will accompany the prize.

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1. Please include your name, community and the artwork’s title, if it has one.
2. If you are already a member of Flickr, please upload ONE OR TWO photos maximum of each piece to your Flickr photostream, tag it “artscutsmemo“, and then upload it to our Flickr pool. The higher the resolution the better!
3. If you’re not registered on Flickr (you can get a free account here), please just send your photo (or 2 photos maximum) of your Arts Cuts Memo to artscutsmemo at yahoo d0t com and we will upload them to the pool. You can send us photos up to 5 MB. The bigger the better!

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Arts Cuts Memo - Christmas Tree (anonymous)


Christopher Butterfield at the Art Matters Rally in Victoria

“Art is a nation’s most precious heritage, for it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and others the inner vision which guides us as a people. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”  – Lyndon Johnson

Christopher Butterfield, composer and Professor of Composition at the University of Victoria, speaking on the legislature steps at the Arts Matter rally in Victoria today:

“I never thought in my life that I’d quote Lyndon Johnson, but he made a rather extraordinary statement. Now remember this is an American president saying this, and I’ve never heard any politician in this country, at a federal or provincial or any other level, use these words. This is what he said: “Art is a nation’s most precious heritage, for it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and others the inner vision which guides us as a people. And where there is no vision, the people perish.” I would like Mr. Campbell, or his minister of culture, to get up in the legislature and quote those words of Lyndon Johnson. I would like them to guarantee the arts in this province, not just a future but a future long beyond the time everybody is dead and gone. I’d like us to grow.”

Thanks to Christopher Ruffell for the video (click below), which also features a speech by Dianne Searle which makes the excellent point that these cuts are not about economics, since it’s proven arts funding is a lucrative investment for the government. Christopher Butterfield’s speech begins at 4:05.

Atom Egoyan Speaks Out Against the BC Arts Cuts

Victoria-raised filmmaker Atom Egoyan issued a statement today condemning the BC Liberals’ cuts to arts funding. Egoyan joins a list of prominent British Columbians and Canadians that includes William Gibson, Douglas Coupland and Margaret Atwood. In his statement he said:

“I owe so much to the development of my early career to support I received from the BC Cultural Fund, which provided me with a much needed scholarship. It is truly devastating to think that a new generation of BC artists can’t rely on their provincial government for this crucial encouragement and vision.”

Egoyan grew up in Victoria, BC, and now lives and works in Toronto. He is the director of many feature films including The Sweet Hereafter and Ararat. He is also an artist and a trained musician, and has often worked in an interdisciplinary way, collaborating with musicians and composers and producing art installations for the MoMA in New York, Artangel in London and the Venice Biennale. He wrote the 1998 opera Elsewhereless and directed the Canadian Opera Company’s Salome in 1997 in Vancouver.

Egoyan’s statement, along with those of many other prominent British Columbians, was first published here.

“Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?” – Gabrielle Roy

“Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?” is a quote from Gabrielle Roy, one of Canada’s most celebrated authors. Unbeknownst to most Canadians, this line appears on our $20 bill. It’s juxtaposed with images of BC First Nations artist Bill Reid’s sculptures “The Spirit of Haida Gwaii” and “Raven and the First Men.”

There’s some kind of peculiar irony in the fact that a statement of the indispensability of the arts is inscribed right on our money, when money is the very thing that the arts in Canada are so short of. A vast country with a small population always relies on some degree of public funding for its arts, and in turn, it relies on its arts for its identity. And not just its identity, either, but also its social and economic health, its morale, its innovation, and many other things. But in BC these days, it seems that the arts and money coincide mainly on paper – on the twenty dollar bill and nowhere else. BC doesn’t just receive the least provincial funding per capita of any Canadian province – it’s dead last, and by a very, very large margin. (Update: as of September 2010 it’s $6.50 per capita compared to the $26 per capita national provincial average.) A second irony related to the Bill Reid sculptures is that in BC, lack of cultural funding also hurts First Nations communities. Had he still been alive, sculptor Bill Reid would without doubt have been vocally opposing the BC Liberals’ obliteration of arts funding.  Graphic by the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance, via Decimating the Arts in Canada. Please note that the 90% funding cut figure is now somewhere between 55-75%, but that’s beside the point: the $6.50 per capita compared with the Canadian average is all you need to know. Click here for high resolution version.

Gabriola Island Puts a Face to the Arts

Gabriola has made a great contribution to the BC-wide “Face of the Arts” Flickr campaign. See all their photos in their Flickr set here! The Face of the Arts campaign was kicked off in Golden, BC, and is spreading around the province via Flickr. Vancouver participated in the project last night at The Wrecking Ball political theatre revue, and those photos will be forthcoming. If your community wants to get involved in this campaign, Golden’s Kicking Horse Culture site explains how to start. Flickr has been a very useful tool in this fight against the BC arts cuts, and speaking of Flickr, please take a look at this really fun new BC-wide art project and contest – The “Arts Cuts Memo” contest. Please participate in these BC-wide projects – they’re beginning to have an impact on the government, on public attitudes toward the arts, and on future BC cultural policy.

Welcome to Arts Cuts PSA Theatre!

Two excellent new PSAs to add to a growing collection of videos on the BC arts cuts issue. Please pass them around! The whole community, artists and arts supporters, appreciates the colossal amount of work that was put into these productions.

Letter to the government by Laura Di Cicco, Artistic and Managing Director, Fugue Theatre

Laura’s letter is in response to a letter from Margaret MacDiarmid, MLA, which is also printed below, so you may want to read that letter first:

Dear Ms MacDiarmid,

While I appreciate your response, I do feel frustrated with the “form” rhetoric I am receiving and hearing from your party.

I and my community are asking for a restoration of funding to 2008/09 levels, not to 2002. How can that possibly support inflation levels? Wages, fees and general costs have increased since then, yet you are proposing a reversal??

Secondly, the arts and culture sector are such a small portion of the government’s budget. Why strike people who are already down? I am not interested in what the government has done in the past at this point. I am only interested in what it is doing now and what it will do in the future.

If the government is so supportive of arts, culture and sport, why such drastic cuts? Just stating that the economy is in trouble isn’t enough, especially since we represent such a small portion of your budget. In tough times, my preference is to reinforce investment in arts and culture because it is an economic stimulant. You seem to be gaining revenue with the imposed HST and much higher gambling limits. Where is that money going?

Frankly, it is scary to me that your party is so un-concerned about the impact this is going to have on people’s lives. Not only in the arts and culture sector, but in sport and education as well. Gambling was made tolerable because much of the revenues were going out to charitable causes. Now, it just seems like the government is propping up addiction so it can benefit for itself. Where is the government’s commitment here to public service?

Direct Access money was the one sure thing that could help my organization stay alive. It was free from peer-assessment and organizations could benefit from its community-based mandate.  Now, the only thing I’m sure of is hope and prayer. Just imagine if politicians like yourself were suddenly told that up to 92% of your wages were going to be cut next year. Would you still want to be an MLA? Yet for artists especially, it seems we are constantly unemployed or underemployed. All because this is the career we choose. Why should we be punished for trying to improve life? Art improves lives and makes our souls rich. There are several studies that show its benefits. I think it’s the wrong path you are taking and I hope the BC Liberals will reverse the cuts.

Laura Di Cicco
Artistic and Managing Director
Fugue Theatre

In response to this letter from Margaret MacDiarmid, MLA:

Dear Ms. Di Cicco,

I am writing to follow-up on our September 8th meeting. Thank you for your patience while I gathered the information that I committed to provide you. When we spoke, you expressed concern about recent reductions in funding for the arts and I committed to provide you with some data regarding the state of arts funding in British Columbia.

From 2002 to 2005, annual BC Arts Council grants were consistently in the $11m range. Since 2005, the Government has increased BC Arts Council funding for four consecutive years, to the point where it reached over $18m in the fiscal year ending in 2009. Also in 2009 the Government provided supplementary funding in the amount of $7m, bringing the total BC Arts Council funding to an unprecedented $25m. Four years of steady funding, followed by four consecutive years of increases demonstrates the Government’s long-term commitment to the arts and recognition of the important role that they play in our community.

If you would like to learn more about funding for the BC Arts Council, you can review their annual reports here:

In 2009/10, BC Arts Council funding will return to the $11m range. This reduction in funding is in response to a significant drop in Government revenue as a result of a global economic downturn. As we discussed in our meeting, in these circumstances the Government has been forced to make difficult decisions in order to ensure that key services such as health care and education get the funding they need in order to maintain the high quality of service that British Columbians have come to expect.

I understand that reductions in funding can be difficult and when those reductions are in an area that is important to you, they can be doubly frustrating. I hope you can take comfort in the government’s  track record on arts funding over the past eight years and in the fact that we are working day and night to build a foundation that will allow British Columbia to come out of this downturn stronger than ever.

Margaret MacDiarmid, M.L.A.