Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Winter of Art’s Discontent, by Laura Trethewey

Article originally appeared in Broken Pencil magazine. Reprinted with permission from Broken Pencil and writer Laura Trethewey.

During a recession, governments both federal and municipal are on the hunt for places to cut costs and the arts seem to be an easy target. Laura Trethewey followed the carnage of arts funding cuts across the country to see the effect on local artists and, ultimately, our culture.

“I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people at, you know, a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren’t high enough, when they know those subsidies have actually gone up — I’m not sure that’s something that resonates with ordinary people.”

– Stephen Harper, September 2008

Hot in the pursuit of a majority government in the midst of the 2008 election, Stephen Harper landed in Saskatoon. The Star Phoenix predicted a talk on crime and justice, but in between the tough-on-crime rhetoric came a now infamous diatribe against arts funding. No one, least of all artists, expected the arts to become a serious election issue. But in retrospect, Harper’s ill-advised aside may well have slowed his party’s momentum and contributed to the last minute slide that led to their second minority win.

The comment also led to the rarest thing of all, an actual debate about our cultural life, one that pitted those committed to the funding of the arts against those obsessed with fiscal restraint and the wisdom of the free market. Now, a year-and-a-half later, it’s like that conversation never happened.

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BC Budget 2010 – excerpt from the government backgrounder

The other $30 million of the 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy will enhance opportunities for all British Columbians in the arts, including participation in music, theatre, visual arts, dance and digital media. Programs may include:

• Regional events that reflect the diversity of communities and include multi-disciplinary arts presentations and performances by artists and performers in various communities, with a possibility of showcasing in larger centres.
• Developing community cultural initiatives by supporting ideas for local employment with the potential for internships, mentorships, and collaboration to enhance local cultural development.
• Developing new arts or cultural product idea “incubators” (digital media, for example) to generate economic benefits. By integrating creative ideas in education and business and with the appropriate nurturing, ideas could become commercialized within a specified time frame.

The programs are still under development and eligibility criteria will be finalized in the coming weeks.

B.C.’s Commitment to Arts and Culture

Government recognizes arts and culture as core values in our society. In 2010/11, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts funding to support arts and culture will total $24.6 million, and a further $11.5 million will be provided to organizations through the Community Gaming Grants program.

The 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy funding sets the foundation for the province of tomorrow, today. The total provincial contribution, including this additional $10 million in funding for arts and culture, will be $46.1 million.

Government has also distributed over $134 million through the B.C. Arts Council since 2001 to help individuals and organizations involved with the arts. In addition to annual Arts Council funding, the Province has also provided significant funding to arts and culture groups in B.C. through gaming grants, and in 2008 established a $150 million endowment to create the BC150 Cultural Fund.

To keep B.C. competitive in the digital marketplace, the Province has also introduced a new tax credit incentive package for digital media that recognizes the convergence taking place within the film, television, video game and animation sectors. The Province also intends to establish a new campus for the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in the Lower Mainland to support the growth and development of new talent and the creative industries.

Funding Sustains Olympic Legacies

There is also an existing endowment of $20 million comprising the Arts Legacy Fund, the earnings of which support increased arts and cultural activities leading up to and beyond the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Province also provided over $16 million in funding for arts to 2010 Legacies Now, and invested $1.3 million in the Cultural Olympiad.
For the Finance Minister’s speech and more details on Budget 2010, visit .
Visit the Province’s website at for online information and services.
Media Contact: Finance Communications
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