Monthly Archives: August 2010

CBC Interview: Kevin Krueger

“Spin” does not begin to describe Minister Krueger’s misrepresentation of facts in this CBC interview. It’s hard to know where to start with the transcript, but let’s begin with the Minister’s representation of his meeting with the Alliance. Present were Minister Krueger, the Alliance for Arts and Culture’s ED Amir Ali Alibhai and an Alliance board member (not their “legal counsel” as Krueger calls her), and twelve or so executive directors of major BC arts organizations. The purpose of the meeting was to try to communicate to the minister the severe infrastructural damage his cuts would soon cause to BC arts and culture. During the meeting the Alliance board member stated that if the disproportionate cuts to arts were not reversed, the Alliance, in support of its members, would be forced to appeal to their huge audience for help, as well as to organize in ridings across the province. Minister Krueger chose to hear a threat and in this interview calls here calls this “extortion.” Clearly this is not extortion, and it’s actually defamatory to say so. What it is, in fact, is the normal course of democracy. Minister Krueger’s attempt to actually criminalize even mild disagreement is anti-democratic. The irony of course is that the Alliance has treated Minister Krueger remarkably politely throughout this whole devastating year. In fact, the Alliance has been so uniformly cordial with the minister that a proportion of the province’s arts organizations, shrinking or dying due to cuts, began asking the Alliance to be much more aggressive with him. Calling the Alliance “vicious” would be comic were it not such a disturbing untruth. What really happened that day? Minister Krueger, whose government had handed down draconian cuts and programs without any adequate consultation with the arts sector or with the BC Arts Council, was patronizing and seemed impervious to the arts sector’s concerns throughout. His communications during what was a multicultural meeting amounted to paternalistic admonishments couched occasionally in quotes from Christian scripture. Yet somehow the assembled arts sector remained civil throughout. That Krueger now claims he was a victim of viciousness indicates that he can dish out draconian cuts but not take dissent; it indicates that he is simply incapable of stewarding this sector. The arrogance of a government that does not consult with sectors before mangling them, and then clamps down on dissent with intimidation and spin, is of course not unique to the arts sector. The HST was rammed through with the same arrogance. It’s interesting that the tourism sector, also under Krueger’s stewardship, was hit with the HST disaster after zero consultation and substandard communication from the same minister.

Secondly, there’s the issue of Minister Krueger’s glaring self-contradiction when he claims ‘we don’t have money for arts’ and then says ‘here’s $30 “new” million over 3 years, if you stop what you’re doing and instead start a February festival in celebratory memory of the Olympics.’ This contradiction has been fully exposed and criticized in the media, yet Krueger dares to keep trotting it out. Of course there is also the related point that this “Spirit Festival” idea amounts to blatant political interference in BC arts and culture. CBC’s Kathryn Gretsinger tries to address this issue in the interview, but Minister Krueger repeatedly skirts it.

Lastly Jane Danzo has made clear to the arts community and the public that she resigned because as Chair of the BC Arts Council she could no longer work under this government’s unbearable political interference. She did not resign—as Minister Krueger unbelievably claims here—because she was finding it hard to be pressured by artists. When she returns from a month’s holiday she will confirm this.

To sum up, Minister Krueger contradicts himself through the interview and plays a dishonest, anti-democratic game, as well as an inept one. Its only virtue is that it so blatantly reveals his hand. Read for yourself. To hear the interview, listen to the CBC podcast.

CBC Early Edition
26-Aug-2010 07:13

Kathryn Gretsinger: The separation of art and state is a debate that we’ve been chewing over for the last week or so. It all began with Jane Danzo. She resigned her position as head of the BC Arts Council last week.

Jane Danzo: It was made very clear, in fact, the board of council has no independent voice from the government, and therefore I believed very firmly that in order to serve actually both government and the arts sector better that I should step down.

Gretsinger: That’s Jane Danzo, the former head of the BC Arts Council.

Today we have the opportunity to hear the government’s side on this story. Kevin Krueger is the provincial minister in charge of tourism, culture and the arts, and he joins me on the line.

Good morning.

Kevin Krueger: Good morning, Kathryn. A warm good morning and hello to all your listeners.

Gretsinger: Thank you very much for taking our call. We do appreciate it. What role, Mr. Minister, do you think the province should play in making decisions about prioritizing arts funding?

Krueger: I think that the relationship with the arts community, arts and culture community around British Columbia, the government and the arts community has been greatly facilitated by the BC Arts Council, and the arrangement is working very well. I have read the transcripts of your interviews with the past and present chair, and I think that they both said that well.

There have been some false allegations that government has stepped in and steered funding to organizations over one another. They both made it very clear. Jane didn’t say that when she resigned. That’s never been true, and she’s been categorical about that, and I appreciate it.

So this is a process that works so well. There are only one or two, generally an average of one complaint per year that go through the full complaint process because it’s a peer review system by juries that are selected from the community in the various disciplines as I know the chairs have outlined to you works well.

Gretsinger: I guess what I want to just make sure of is that there’s a few issues on the table here. One of them has to do with funding and the way that it’s distributed. Another one is to do with the fact that there’s been dramatic cuts to funding. So let’s take them apart individually, if we can. Jane Danzo says that she does not think that the BC Arts Council has enough independence to make decisions outside of the government realm. How do you respond to that criticism?

Krueger: I think that Jane was expressing a profound frustration that she feels in a worldwide recession. That frustration is shared by billions of people around the world, and I’m one of them. It can’t be helped that Canada and British Columbia close to last of all got dragged into this whirlpool of a recession. I think we’ll be out of it faster than anybody else, but in the meantime Jane and I and Mr. Hamilton and all of us in government and in the organizations that work for government, including health authorities, have experienced this barrage of concern, that, “Please don’t cut in our areas because we just can’t stand the cut,” and that’s very legitimate.

Gretsinger: That’s the funding question, though, Mr. Krueger. That’s the funding question. But I’m asking you, first of all, about independence. She does not feel that as the head of the BC Arts Council she had enough independence to speak her mind about what the government was doing with regard to arts funding. Is there a problem with not having people be able to speak freely when they sit on the council?

Krueger: Well, I think that the acting chair, Mr. Stan Hamilton, answered you very clearly on that. If a person wants to be completely free to criticize anything you want, we all have that right. But if you are an organization that is helping to make crucial decisions in a very tough time about where funding goes and you’re heading that organization, then you are trying to do your best, and Jane Danzo is a very competent individual and I think very highly of her, trying to do your best to make sure that you’re doing the best you can for all sides.

Now, if you come out swinging against one of the sides, then you’re not remaining in the role that you were. So she wouldn t do that. She was too ethical to do that. I know that there are some people in the arts and culture community that are actually quite vicious, and they have been grinding on her really hard and on me and on the government and on their MLAs. Jane came to a meeting that I had because I’ve had a lot of round table meetings around the province. We had one in Vancouver where I was actually threatened. It was like an extortion process by the time they got down to their legal representative, summing up what they planned to do if we didn’t come up with more money. She was horrified, and it is hard for a classy, principled, gentle person like her, earnestly trying to do the best for the arts, to put up with that. That group was way over the line.

Gretsinger: Well….

Krueger: Just let me finish. That’s the situation she was in, and she finally reached the point where she is saying if what the arts community really expects from me is full-on advocacy, she’d never attack people like that group did, but she had had enough of that, so she stepped aside to say what she said.

Now, let’s get back to the other half of your question, which is the Olympic legacy funds.

Gretsinger: Yes.

Krueger: This is a marvellous thing.

Gretsinger: And this is something that is causing a lot of concern not just in British Columbia but the Canadian Conference of the Arts is speaking out about this too. If you not only peel back a budget but also provide a smaller budget and then say that it needs to be spent on a certain thing, are you not trying to control the way decisions are made?

Krueger: No, and it…different budget. And I need to…. You’ve given me something else I have to address in asking the question that way. When you say that we have peeled back a budget, that just isn’t true. There’s an appropriation each year to the BC Arts Council to be distributed to artists and arts organizations throughout the province, and they have a lot of clients and that’s what they do. And as I said, they do it very well.

In 2008 we reached our high-water mark so far. I think we’ll get back to doing even better than that, but we were heading for what looked like a $3b surplus, and the government gave a lot of money to the arts and cultural sector, including a $150m permanent legacy fund for the BC 150 celebration. Nobody complained about that, and if they didn’t they have no right to complain about an Olympic legacy fund either, because that is new money.

The fact is we have had to take really tough decisions. The same people who complained bitterly that they aren’t getting as large a grant as they did last year would be furious if they or any of their loved ones, any of their friends couldn’t get the same wonderful health care that everybody else is getting in BC. We have to deal with these urgent needs, health care, education, social services. We have to also try and maintain all of these other relationships and important things we’re doing, and our government has demonstrated very faithfully that arts and culture are very high priority to us. We know they’re integral to who British Columbians are, all of us. They help us deliver health care and education and social services. They’re great economic generators, growth with the multiplier effect and tax revenues.

Gretsinger: How do you ensure, though, that when there are reduced dollars that you make sure that the arts community has independence to decide how that money should be spent?

Krueger: Well, nobody’s thought of a better way than the way it’s being done right now through the BC Arts Council. And again, I know that both Jane Danzo and Stan Hamilton have explained that to you. The fact is we don’t have as much money as we did, but we will, I expect, get back to providing more.

We’re actually providing more than quadruple the amount of annual funding to the arts and culture community than the government we replaced did. People lose sight of that, although not always, because the same round tables will say to me we would never want them back. It was an average of less than $13m a year that the NDP provided.

Gretsinger: All right.

Krueger: We are close to $60m a year.

So I want to answer your question if you’ll let me.

Gretsinger: We’re going to run out of time, though, for this morning, and if you can keep it very short that would be great.

Krueger: You bet. So we had a Cultural Olympiad, never been done before, a three-year Cultural Olympiad leading up to the Olympics, fabulous success. Well, 2.5 million people in total came out to watch the performances and participate, in pay performances and in free performances. We want to keep that spirit alive. We want to grow these arts organizations through their memberships who provide money to them, also through their audiences. The Olympic legacy fund is geared to do that…

Gretsinger: Okay.

Krueger: …and BC’s festivals are just one part of it. There’s a whole lot more. So we should talk again.

Gretsinger: That would be great. Thank you so much for taking our call this morning, and I appreciate your point of view on it.

Krueger: Thank you very much.

Gretsinger: Goodbye for now.

British Columbians deserve better government than this.

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Letter to Minister Krueger from George Zukerman, Order of Canada, Order of BC

Excellent open letter to Minister Krueger, cc’d to Premier Campbell, from George Zukerman, internationally renowned musician and respected member of BC’s classical music community. He is the recipient of the Order of Canada and Order of BC in recognition of national and international performances. Mr. Zukerman lives in Surrey, B.C.

Hon. Kevin Krueger
Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts
Constituency Office
9—111 Oriole Road
Kamloops, BC   V2C 4N6

Dear Minister Krueger:

I want to express my grave concerns at the severity of the funding cuts recently imposed on much of the  BC Arts Community.

Over the past thirty five years The BC Arts Council has worked in trusted collaboration with Arts organizations throughout British Columbia, assisting with annual operating expenses  and investing in the essential task of building infrastructures to last for the benefit of future generations. The Arts Community learned to trust the  Council even when funds were limited. Through the Cultural Services Branch, it became known as a responsive agency which maintained as even a hand as possible in its ongoing distribution of available monies.

The draconian  cuts recently imposed coupled with the elimination of gaming grants for cultural organizations has left the BC arts world reeling.  I recognize that when cuts have to be made, very often somebody down the line suffers  inordinately.  It is not always possible to make all cuts equally across the board.  But I cannot believe that any government would knowingly wish  to inflict such serious harm  on some of the very organizations which it has nurtured for so many previous  years. Did you know, for instance, that the Prince George Symphony—a vital Northern musical resources for the entire Northern region as well as for the City of PG—has been cut off from its entire 2010-2011 BC Arts Council operating grant?  Your own Kamloops Symphony has been slashed to 43% of normal operating grant.

Curiously, this is all happening at exactly the time that the BC Government has announced its special $30,000,000 Legacy fund, designed (according to the declaration on Page 2 of the 2010  budget statement) to “enhance existing provincial arts investments in  arts and culture.” There is even  a side-bar with a smiling theatre-logo which adds “$30 Million for Provincial Arts Investments.” (We have little enough to smile about, these days!)

Bravo!  The intent of Cabinet in its  budget-plan seems clear enough. Investment. But somewhere down the line, the good intentions have become tangled in a morass of confused and confusing regulations. It appears that most of the new fund is linked to a series of time-limited celebrations of  the legacy of the 2010 Cultural Olympiad.

It is a wonderful thing to celebrate our Olympic success. A good example is the Canada Line to the airport which leaves a permanent Olympic legacy. In the Arts we also want to celebrate with something permanent. There are more pressing needs than a glorious block party.

Public policy,  as announced in the Budget Statement, cannot and should not be changed. But hastily devised regulations which specify how Arts funding should be distributed can—and should—be amended. At the same time this would reassert  the crucial  “arm’s length” separation  between government and its funding agencies.

It really is not too late for your Government to alter these regulations, and devote at least some  portion of the annual Legacy Fund to the BC Arts Council.  This might begin to make up for some of the deepest and most injurious  cuts.  There are so many of them—and you’ve probably heard from them all! Think about it—in  a simple move, much of the damage  inadvertently inflicted  on the arts community would be undone. The intent of the Budget statement would be fulfilled, and the Olympic memory would still live on!

I hope you might agree that it would be enlightened self-interest to allow the Arts to flourish with this small new investment. The alternative is that they will languish  because of ill-advised cuts. Many of them will not survive. Who knows—with a move in the right direction, the Chair of the BC Arts Council, who recently resigned over this issue, might be persuaded to return.

Sincerely,

George Zukerman, O.C. O.B.C.
Surrey, B.C.

c.c   Hon Gordon Campbell
Victoria office
Room 301
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC  V8W 9E2

Letter to BC MLA Ron Cantelon systematically refutes government’s claims about arts cuts

Letter to MLA Ron Cantelon written by Sandy Garossino, Chair of the Alliance for Arts and Culture Advocacy Committe. Garossino’s letter is in response to Ron’s remarks in the Times-Colonist, Saturday Aug 21, 2010, remarks that indicate he does not have an informed understanding of the way in which BC culture functions. Upon being told that BC arts infrastructure, which has been built up over many decades of volunteer labour, audience support and toil, is being devastated by entirely unnecessary cuts, Cantelon replied “”They [B.C. arts groups] will come back in other incarnations.” Upon which a writer from Summerland on Twitter replied “yes, they will, Ron: as voters.” But to be serious, Cantelon does not grasp what communities all over BC already know: the arts may be key to our identity as a province, but they’re also a business sector like any other and must be treated like one.

Garossino’s response to Ron’s remarks:

Dear Ron,

I have just read your comments about arts cuts in the Victoria Times Colonist.

Normal business practice–which is my background–would strive to achieve proportionality between savings and sacrificed services. Ideally the prudent budget process would seek minimal impact for maximum savings–or the closest thing to it.

In the case of arts cuts, the savings have been negligible–less than one-thousandth of the provincial budget. Yet the inherent structure of the non-profit arts model will result in severe damage across all BC communities. This is a complete inversion of rational governance.

It’s plain that the government believes that the impact will be small, contained, and limited to the arts sector only, rather than the public at large. This belies a failure to grasp what is at stake. Organizations that fail will not reappear. Communities across the province will lose longstanding beloved emblems of their local character.

Continue reading

Letter to Premier Campbell from the Canadian Conference of the Arts

The full text of an unprecedented letter from the Canadian Conference of the Arts to Premier Gordon Campbell (courtesy The Alliance for Arts and the Georgia Straight):

August 20th, 2010

Dear Premier Campbell,

Re: Cuts to the BC arts sector

I am writing again to you today on behalf of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA) to express our deep concerns about the devastating cuts of provincial support to the arts and culture communities of British Columbia, as well as about the resignation of the widely respected BC Arts Council Chair, Ms. Jane Danzo.

As the largest and oldest Canada-wide organization in the arts, culture and heritage sector, the CCA does not often intervene in issues of provincial concern. Founded 65 years ago, the CCA’s mission is to be the national forum for the sector and to document and promote the development and implementation of cultural policies at the federal level. Our goal is to encourage and foster the health and growth of this important sector within Canada and to enhance the cultural life of Canadians.

However, we cannot remain silent when we hear how your government abandons its support to arts and culture organizations in British Columbia, many of which are members of ours. Past investments by BC governments, while for decades amongst the lowest per capita in Canada, have yielded remarkable results. Your province ranks amongst the first in Canada for the number and the quality of its artists and creators, notably in the visual arts, who have gained your province and the country an international reputation.

Last year’s success of the BC Scene event at the National Arts Centre was a clear illustration of the incredible talent and creative power of your province’s artistic community. And if further proof were required, all three levels of government recognized the importance of arts and culture by investing considerable sums of money to showcase Canadian and British Columbian talent at the Cultural Olympiad during the very successful Winter Olympics, thus confirming the contribution the arts make to Canada’s image abroad.

It bears repeating once again that the arts and culture sector is at the vanguard of the shift to a post-industrial economy which must be strategically guided by Canada’s various levels of government. According to documents produced by your own Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, BC’s arts and culture sector employs close to 80 000 people and contributes over $5 billion to the provincial economy. BC has the largest percentage of its labour force in arts occupations and, as such, ranks first amongst the ten provinces. The arts are a growth sector in most Canadian cities and Vancouver boasts the third largest concentration of professional artists in Canada.

Moreover, British Columbia’s population represents much of the cultural diversity that increasingly characterizes Canadian society. As such, investing in the arts and culture sector should be a strong component of your government’s strategy to tap this inexhaustible natural resource to advance creativity, boost the economy, lead to greater social cohesion and contribute to our identity as a nation.

In this context, we are appalled to hear the extremely severe financial cuts that BC arts organizations are being hit with further to your government’s decisions, both through cuts to the budget of the BCAC and through the elimination of support from gaming grants. This is made particularly dramatic given the fact that like the rest of the arts and culture sector across the country, those organizations still have to feel the full impact of the recent recession.  We are equally concerned that major policy shifts, made without consultation with the BC Arts Council, have set irresponsible and indefensible precedents.

On that front, we want to reassert the importance of the arm’s length relationship which must exist between governments, politicians and cultural granting agencies. Arts and politics do not mix well: this is why so many countries, including Canada and most provinces, have established independent Arts Councils and rely on peer jury systems as the best possible way of granting money to artists and cultural organizations. This is a characteristic of healthy democracies and remains the best way to encourage innovation and creativity in a nation. Like our colleagues in BC, we applaud Ms. Danzo’s courageous decision to resign in protest of both the drastic cuts imposed by your government and the fact that BCAC does not possess the independence normally given to such granting agencies.

For all those reasons, we find it ill-advised that provincial investments in the arts and culture sector be drastically and unfairly cut to help balance the books. With all due respect, we submit that this is a strategic error that will have negative impacts not only on tourism and economic development but also severely compromise the role your province plays in defining Canadian identity at home and abroad.

The Canadian Conference of the Arts therefore urges you and your government to think of the long-term interests of British Columbians and to reverse the current policy regarding the arts, which can only be described as short-view and contrary to the interests not only of British Columbians but of all Canadians. We also submit that the BC Arts Council should be restructured on the model of other Arts Councils in Canada and in other countries and enjoy the independence which is necessary to a thriving arts community.

Yours truly,

Kathleen Sharpe

President

CC
The Hon. Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts
The Hon. Colin Hansen, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier

The Province
The Vancouver Sun
The Georgia Straight
The Victoria News
The Times Colonist

David Diamond’s CBC interview on the arts cuts

David Diamond, Artistic Director of Headlines Theatre in Vancouver, was interviewed by the CBC today on Jane Danzo’s resignation from the BC Arts Council in particular and the BC arts cuts in general. David is excellent; Rick Cluff doesn’t seem to quite grasp the seriousness of the issue of political interference in the arts or the idea that independent arts are central to democracy and civil society. When Cluff asks David if he’s “reading into” the government’s actions, is he just serious or just playing devil’s advocate? As David says, this interference is so overt that there’s no “reading into” anything. The interview, on the Early Edition with host Rick Cluff, can be downloaded below.

CBC interview with David Diamond of Headlines Theatre

PAARC’s Statement on Jane Danzo’s Resignation from the BC Arts Council

Following is the press release from the Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres (PAARC) on Jane Danzo’s resignation letter from the BC Arts Council. Thanks to PAARC for letting us reprint the release:

18 August 2010 – For Immediate Release

In recent months, the B.C. Arts Council has been subjected to an unprecedented amount of political interference, something former Arts Council chair Jane Danzo called attention to in her letter of resignation, made public yesterday evening. This political interference, taking the form of a direct assault on the arms-length nature of the council, should be of concern to all British Columbians. The B.C. government has disproportionately cut funding that used to support cultural activity and services in our communities (overall, by 50% to 70%), and now seeks to replace that money with politically-directed money from a Legacy Program. Not only will no money will be saved by this action, the democratic nature of cultural expression will be significantly impaired.

It is widely suspected in the arts community that this interference is an attempt by government to convert the arts and culture in B.C. into a tool to be mobilized for partisan political ends, rather than an essential outgrowth of, and benefit to, our communities. Furthermore, it is believed by some that this attempt to manage culture directly by political fiat originates in the office of the Premier.

It is incumbent upon the Premier and the government caucus to refute this theory, not by mere denial, but by demonstrating a strong commitment to arts funding at arms-length from political operatives, and by reversing the disastrous, reckless and wasteful decisions identified in Ms. Danzo’s letter.

Keith Higgins
President, Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres

A copy of Ms. Danzo’s resignation letter can be found here: https://stopbcartscuts.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/jane-danzo-chair-of-bc-arts-council-resignation-letter/


Jane Danzo, Chair of BC Arts Council, resigns with damning letter

Here is the text of Jane Danzo’s letter of August 16, 2010 to Kevin Krueger, BC’s Minister of Tourism, Culture & the Arts. Stop BC Arts Cuts today makes a renewed call for Minister Krueger’s resignation. Danzo’s devastating letter outlines the Council’s loss of arms-length independence from government and makes clear the degree of political abuse of arts funds. It should be noted that “arms-length” in British Columbia has never been strong – a colleague called it “wrist-length” today – and now it’s virtually nonexistent. The BC public has lost faith in its provincial government’s ability to protect BC arts and culture, not to mention in its ability to refrain from using arts money for political gain. The government MUST remove arts money from the “Legacy” fund – a highly suspect ministerial discretion fund – and put it back into a properly constituted BC Arts Council.

See also Marsha Lederman’s article in the Globe and Mail.

Full text of Jane Danzo’s letter:

Dear Minister Krueger,

Thank-you for your kind words in last week’s press release that announced my resignation from the British Columbia Arts Council.

I was very proud to have been appointed to the BC Arts Council and even more so to have been appointed Chair. I consider it a privilege to have been asked to serve the government for the past four years.

While my resignation may have seemed sudden, I had been considering stepping down for some time.

With respect and with regret, I felt obliged to resign in order to have a voice. In my opinion, the work of The B.C. Arts Council Board, has not been supported by government on a number of different levels.

According to the Arts Council Act, Council is defined as not more than 15 members, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The Charter of the BCAC further identifies the appointees as “the Board”. The Act stipulates that the Board’s main purpose is to provide support for the arts and culture sector in British Columbia. In November 2009, Council (board and staff) made a submission to the Committee on Finance and Governmental Services regarding BCAC funding for the following year. Council recommended that the government return to an appropriation for the BCAC and restore its funding to 08/09 levels. This recommendation, which was echoed by the submissions of artists and arts organizations province-wide, was supported by the government’s own committee who brought it forward for consideration in the March budget. The government rejected its committee’s strong recommendation for restoration. The devastating impact of that decision is now being felt by artists and arts organizations throughout the province as they receive notification of substantial cuts to their core funding.

Instead of restoring the funding to the BCAC, the government announced the establishment of an Arts Legacy Fund- a surprise as much to the Board as to the arts community. Even after the announcement, the Board was not consulted for input, nor was it permitted to know the details as they were developed by ministry staff over a four month period. Meanwhile, the arts community struggled, some members with life-threatening uncertainty, as they reduced their programming, laid off staff and made poignant appeals to patrons and donors for further support. And the Board remained awkwardly silent until the government released more information about the Arts Legacy Fund.

The Act also specifies that the Board support arts and culture through advocacy. This responsibility is virtually impossible to accomplish because the Board’s relationship to government is not at-arms–length. It has neither its own funding nor its own staff. It is dependent upon budget allocation for funds and ministry employees for human resources, both managed by a government employee. Furthermore, it has recently been made clear that the Board does not have a voice independent of government. The only independence the Board has from government is defined by the granting process.

The Board members of the BCAC are chosen for, among other qualifications, their areas of expertise and their knowledge of the sector. Collectively, they represent a broad range of board experience that includes not-for profit, public sector and corporate boards. Given the issues I have identified, it would not be surprising if such capable volunteers were to become frustrated, even disillusioned. I believe that unless government is more consultative, and makes significant organizational changes, it will be difficult to attract and retain qualified candidates for Board positions on the BCAC.

I strongly recommend that the government and the Board review the models used in some of the other provincial jurisdictions where their arts councils are at arms–length from government; where they are respected for their expertise and judgment and where, as a result, the arts and culture sectors are better served. Surely such co-operation could produce only beneficial results for the B.C. arts community.

Minister Krueger, you have been a strong advocate for increased funding to the BCAC , and, more broadly, for the arts and culture sector of British Columbia. I am very grateful for that support, and, on behalf of the community, I thank-you very much.

Yours very truly,
Jane M. Danzo