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.

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Hon. Premier Gordon Campbell,

On behalf of the East Vancouver Cultural Centre’s Youth Panel, as well as patrons and members of the arts community, we wish to express our deepest concerns regarding the funding cuts for arts programs in British Columbia.

The arts are an integral part of any society. They provide a means for expression, creativity and the preservation of culture.  Culture isn’t something we can measure with money.  The heritage represented by art is immeasurable in value, and these funding cuts threaten to create a substantial gap in the historical record of our artistic endeavours. The youth of today are full of life, talent and creativity, and to deny them the opportunity to express themselves would be a shame.

The arts should be a valued and vital component of our government’s economic plan.

Each year, the East Vancouver Cultural Centre’s Youth Panel organizes the IGNITE! Youth festival.  This week-long celebration of the arts recognizes all forms of art and provides emerging young artists from all socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to showcase their original works. This festival not only encourages the appreciation of art, but also gives youth the chance to develop a sense of community and heritage as well as create positive relationships with other youth. As youth, many of us find a means of expression, communication, and a way of making friends through the arts and through arts programs. We have all experienced the intimate connections that the arts create from person to person, whether it be the relationship between actor and director, stagehand and stage manager, or audience and performer. We fear for what will happen when these connections are severed. What kind of culture will we have without the arts?

The arts cuts directly affect many organizations that service youth who depend on their arts programming.  By removing this financial support, you are removing their ability to contribute to our society’s collective culture. The signatures on the following page represent the youth of Vancouver, BC who support re-instating the funds.

We strongly urge you to reconsider the funding cuts for arts programs. The arts give strength to voices seldom heard; they are a form of communication and a way of life. A world without the arts would be a colourless world.

Our sincerest regards,

The Vancouver East Cultural Centre’s Youth Panel


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