The 2010 BC Budget effectively cut 50% from arts funding

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In the new BC budget we see cuts deep enough to damage an already fragile BC arts ecology. BC arts funding was already virtually the lowest in Canada, before these cuts, and now it’s far and away the lowest in the country. The BC Arts Council, our arms-length funding body, has been cut in half. Funds for community arts from gaming money have also been cut by approximately 50%.
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By now it’s well-known that all arts funding comes back immediately to government coffers, so we know this was not an economic move  on the part of the government. It  has nothing to do with deficit or recession, either, since the arts would actually function to increase BC’s profitability. The government’s own studies prove these facts. We are left to conclude that this budget contains a purely anti-cultural stance. Dismissive and noticeably ill-informed remarks by Ministers Coleman and Krueger confirm this stance.
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The biggest and most pressing issue? The government’s “new” $10 million is not new. The BC Arts Council has been cut by approximately that same amount. This money, removed from arms-length administration, has reappeared as part of something called a “2010 Sports and Arts Legacy” fund that so far looks very much like a political slush fund. The governments has not yet announced how this is to be administered, but there is no guarantee that it won’t be directly distributed either by ministry bureaucrats or another not-so-arms-length agency, rather than by the efficient, arms-length BC Arts Council. And no guarantee it won’t be strategically given out to interior constituencies as tourism-based community fairs, say, for political advantage. Furthermore, its monies are apparently only available to programs “for children,” even though it’s obvious that children cannot properly learn art in a province with a crippled arts sector.
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We demand that this 10 million be distributed by the arms-length body of the BC Arts Council, to prevent accusations of political interference in art.
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Let’s not witness the devastation of our BC arts infrastructure, so long in the making. Consequences will include brain drain (which has already begun), loss of profit in associated industries, and further loss of matching funds. Corporate and foundation funds for art are matched to provincial funding. Cut provincial funding, and everything else falls away.
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Help us maintain the quality of arts and culture in our province, and prevent our culture from becoming nothing more than a short-term, commercialized job creation paid for by a political slush fund. Publicly funded art, while proven excellent for our economy, does not work on a business model.
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BC culture belongs to all British Columbians. It’s where we produce our shared identity, and that can’t be wholly dictated by the marketplace. No great art tradition has ever been sustained that way.
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Please stay tuned for things you can do to help in this next phase of the fight for a true BC arts policy, similar to that enjoyed by all other BC provinces.
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One response to “The 2010 BC Budget effectively cut 50% from arts funding

  1. I loved the cartoon! the article is good too,
    next cartoon could be the funeral of the brain as the government contributes to the dumbing down of our society and the future as we see cuts to education and the arts continue

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