Monthly Archives: September 2010

BC Liberals try to mask the disgrace of BC’s $6.50 per capita spending

BC Liberals MLA Don McRae – deceptive language

It has come to our attention that the BC Liberals are attempting to paper over the embarrassing fact of BC’s last-place position when compared with per capita arts funding in every other province. And they’re doing it with a dishonest abuse of statistics. Most of you know by now that the national provincial arts funding average is $26 per capita. BC is a distant last in Canada at approx. $6.54 per capita. Now, there are other ways of tallying arts funding in each province, and some take into account ALL levels of funding including federal and municipal, as you will see below. The BC Liberals are here doing a very clumsy, blatant version of apples vs. oranges, in an attempt to hide the fact that their provincial funding is glaringly low. And even by their model, adding in all other federal and municipal funding sources, BC is still last. How could it be otherwise, considering the nearly nonexistent provincial funding level? This is a deliberately deceptive communication tactic to say the least.

Here is BC Liberal MLA Don McRae, member of the Standing Committee for Finance that is currently touring BC collecting public submissions for next year’s budget.

Via Hansard:

D. McRae: Well, I just want to preface. I’m a big supporter of the arts and culture, and I’d like to see more dollars go in. But one of the things that we see at this committee oftentimes is the fact that we are spending $6.54 per capita as compared to Alberta. You know, it is lower per capita in that way.

The Arts Research Monitor says that in British Columbia, when you look at all levels of government, we actually spend $194 per person in British Columbia on arts and culture. Now, maybe that’s still not enough, but the reality is that how we delegate our dollars provincially, federally and municipally might be a little bit different if we just look at it on that level.

I don’t know how the municipalities contribute to arts in other jurisdictions. For that reason, I’m a little curious as to how that would level the playing field or not. So if you could provide some information — not today, necessarily — about…. When you take all three levels of government into arts funding, does B.C. really stand far below the rest?

Response from Keith Higgins, President of the Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres:

“If some members of the finance committee would like to argue that a larger investment by a handful of municipalities somehow absolves the province of responsibility for investment in culture throughout the province, it shows a real lack of responsibility.

The question that comes to mind in response is: Even if the “mix” [federal plus municipal added to provincial] provides adequate investment (and it doesn’t; I’ll come back to that) how exactly is government going to address the Metro/non-Metro disparity in access to culture? If the finance committee would like to find a way to encourage municipalities who are not providing adequate (or any) investment — and there are many — to do so, it would of course be welcomed. If they have some other way to increase federal and private investment, let’s see that strategy.

By the way, the issue of Hill’s Arts Research Monitor that is being referred to is 8:6, November 2009. The complete passage is:

“On a per-capita basis, spending on culture by all levels of government was $266 per Canadian in 2006-07. From highest to lowest, per-capita spending by all levels of government was as follows in each province:

Quebec ($335 per capita);
Prince Edward Island ($272 per capita);
Saskatchewan ($257 per capita);
Ontario ($245 per capita);
Nova Scotia ($234 per capita);
Manitoba ($231 per capita);
Newfoundland and Labrador ($224 per capita);
Alberta ($219 per capita);
New Brunswick ($210 per capita); and
British Columbia ($194 per capita).”


Look who is last! So, the quoted statistic is an extremely cynical tactic. I will address this in a written submission to the Finance Committee. Any presenters still scheduled to appear before the committee should be alerted to this.

We should thank MLA Don McRae for raising the Hill Arts Monitor as a reference, since it confirms many arguments that arts presenters have been making, especially that the province’s historically low investment has prevented BC from getting a fair share of investment from federal sources. Read the entire issue at the link above; it’s quite illuminating.


61% of Vancouver Island Gaming “Arts and Culture” Grants Bound for Other Purposes

Photo: Bill Horne

Below is the full press release from a group of concerned arts supporters on Vancouver Island:

61% of Vancouver Island Gaming “Arts and Culture” Grants Bound for Other Purposes

For immediate use

From: Bill Jamieson, Connie Foss More, DolaDubé – concerned members of the Arts community

Date: September 16, 2010

Contact: Bill Jamieson, CA,     phone: 250-370-1067  email

(others, if needed, are Connie Foss More  here and Dola Dubé  here.)

According to a Press Release issued by the B.C. Gaming Branch on September 3, the government has restored funding to Arts and Culture groups on Vancouver Island through B.C. Gaming’s “Arts, Culture and Heritage” programme. “Pipers and painters, choristers and curators will share $662,740 in Community Gaming Grants supporting youth arts and culture, fairs, festivals and museums on Vancouver Island,” states the Minister.

Refer to:

However, even the most cursory review of the list of successful applicants suggests otherwise.


Continue reading

David Diamond’s submission to the BC Finance Committee

David Diamond is the Artistic/Managing Director of BC’s Headlines Theatre. This is his submission to the Standing Committee on Finance, spoken in person to the committee today in the course of its public Vancouver hearing:

To the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services:

September 16, 2010

Hello, my name is David Diamond and I am the Artistic Director of Headlines Theatre. The best way, I believe, to talk about arts and culture is to make it personal.

One of the reasons I am here because sometime in the last 30 years, Headlines will have done a project in every single one of your constituencies; projects on addiction, family violence, racism, intergenerational conflict, homelessness, gang violence, suicide prevention and many others.

I want to acknowledge off the top that I am very happy that a portion of the money that was cut from Arts and Culture has come back to the BC Arts Council. Let us not think, however, this has solved the problem.

Mr. Les – you came to the opening of Meth, in Sto:Lo Territory – Meth toured into 27 communities across BC and then toured western Canada. I remember you came to me after the show, literally vibrating and said you had never experienced anything like this powerful theatre project on addiction;

Mr. Ralston – you might recall “Here and Now”, on gang violence. It was so deeply embraced by the Indo-Canadian community it was created and first performed inside the Ross Street Temple in Vancouver and then moved to the Surrey Arts Centre;

Mr. Donaldson – I carry a Gitxsan name because of the theatre work over many, many years throughout the Hazelton area – in Kispiox and Gitanmaax in particular.

Mr. Rustad – Street Spirits in PG who do work with at-risk youth, who I am sure you must know, were born directly from a Headlines’ workshop over 10 years ago.

I could go on through all of your constituencies.


Continue reading

Arts Supporter Profile – Sandy Garossino

This is the first in a series of posts profiling British Columbian arts supporters from across the province. It is a little known fact that much of the muscle behind this fight for a proper level of BC arts funding does not come from artists and arts professionals. It comes in fact from arts supporters—committed, interested members of the audience. These are people who want to live somewhere with a vibrant identity of its own. Each of these highly successful individuals has contributed significant volunteer time and energy to building arts and culture in this province, and this series of profiles serves as a reminder that the fight for arts funding is not the self-interested agitation of a bunch of artists but in fact a much larger struggle for a better British Columbia.

Our first profile is of Sandy Garossino, a board member of the Alliance for Arts in Vancouver and volunteer chair of its Advocacy Task Force. Despite also working full-time, she has stuck with this fight for over a year.

Sandy Garossino comes from the business community to chair the Alliance Advocacy Committee.  Originally from small town Alberta and a lawyer by training, she formerly owned and operated 3 Metro Vancouver taxi companies–at the time one of the largest privately held taxi fleets in Canada.  Using technology developed in Richmond, Garossino’s companies pioneered the use of computerized taxi dispatch in North America.  Since the sale of those businesses, she has been active in private investments and incubating businesses through global partnerships, primarily in Asia.

Garossino sits on the SFU India Advisory Council and has ties to UBC’s Asia strategy.  She has been involved in arts governance for over 15 years, sitting on the boards of the Writers Festival, Public Dreams, and co-chairing the Vancouver Biennale.  She currently advises the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration, and sits on the board of the Alliance for Arts.

Garossino believes in culture’s often unseen yet powerful role in shaping the destiny of a city, a region, and a nation.

Look at New York City.  150 years ago there was money there, and little else.  Vision and will turned New York into one of the greatest cultural centres on the planet.  And it is culture that underpins its position of global influence and impact.  Culture draws power, talent, energy, and excitement.  It drives human potential and achievement, usually through our collective unconscious.  And it is the foundation of the shared experience that make for harmonious, happy lived environments both urban and rural.

When leaders ignore the power of attraction–unknowingly they relegate their region to obscurity and the second rate.

These years are critical to BC.  We face a new, and largely uncertain future, with seismic shifts in global power that will profoundly affect our fate–sooner than most of us realize.  In myriad ways, our destiny will be shaped by forces we cannot see or know–and to a surprisingly large extent by a very few individuals who influence us with a single, very personal choice: to build their futures here or in some other, more attractive place.

It’s a big world out there, and we are in a global competition for the best and the brightest in everything.  Our cultural policies should reflect an awareness of that competition, put us in the game, and at their core, do something much more important:  shape our own identity.”

Next profile: Yulanda Faris.

Inappropriate outburst by Minister Krueger on CFAX Radio

“I was threatened in a meeting with them in a way that didn’t seem that much different to me than a junkie waving a needle if I was confronted by somebody on skid row who was high. It was just blatant. It was an outright threat. “You give us more money or else.”

Right on the heels of the first positive arts-funding development in a year—yesterday’s announcement of a partial restoration of funds to the BC Arts Council—Kevin Krueger, BC Minister for Tourism Culture and the Arts, has ruined the moment by making his second defamatory, unfounded accusation in a week. Both of Krueger’s statements concern a single, remarkably civil meeting he attended with the Alliance for Arts and Culture late last fall. You can read about that meeting here and decide for yourself, but in short what happened is what would happen with any sector in crisis; the Alliance told the Minister that if funds weren’t restored soon, in order to represent their members they would have to go into the communities to gather support for their cause and prove that voters care about the arts. This was not a threat. It was democracy. And it was delivered cordially and politely. What was a threat was the manner in which Minister Krueger opened the meeting. As the Alliance notes, “Minister Krueger opened that meeting last November by telling us that we should “stand down” our advocacy efforts, and that if we didn’t we could be doing “more harm” to ourselves and our cause. The implications of that comment seemed clear, but we never considered accusing the minister of threatening us.”

As is well known in the arts sector, the Alliance for Arts and Culture, BC’s largest association of arts organizations, has been faultlessly polite and professional with Mr. Krueger. It has conducted itself this way ever since the beginning of this unprecedented arts sector demolition. It’s a fact: the Alliance’s professionalism and even-handedness is a matter of record. This is why Mr. Krueger’s increasingly unstable public outbursts on the subject of his dealings with the Alliance are all the more ludicrous and inexplicable. Rather than being threatening, the Alliance has in fact often come under fire from its own members and the community at large for its remarkably soft approach during a year of emergency. Does Minister Krueger think he is saving face with British Columbians who know nothing of the issue, painting himself as the victim, when in fact what’s he doing is blaming the victim? This is not just dishonest and unethical; it’s getting downright weird. The unfortunate thing is that ever since yesterday’s partial restoration of funds, the arts community and its vocal arts audiences have made a huge effort to applaud the government for a positive first step.  In light of this, to be confronted today with the Minister’s destructive, defamatory and simply bizarre behaviour is particularly galling. Were it not becoming obvious that British Columbians are giving this government’s statements an increasingly skeptical reception, we would be more worried about his remarks. However, it does seem important that we issue a reaction to this kind of unstable, dishonest behaviour from the government. We are trying our level best to take the high road but this Minister seems determined to run us off the road in his own hellbent slide into the ditch. We will not go with him. We have been honest and straight in our dealings with an extremely opaque, uncooperative and high-handed  government, one that has saved no money buy cutting our tiny industrial subsidy, far smaller than other sectors receive, and that has done irreparable damage to . But enough is enough. We’re grateful for yesterday’s small partial restoration, but it must be said that the win did not just come out of the generosity of the government’s heart. It came as a result of many things: Federal Heritage Minister James Moore’s frank criticism of BC arts policy; Jane Danzo’s protest resignation from the BC Arts Council over political interference and cuts; and increasing outrage from regions all over the province on the verge of losing their arts intrastructure as well as the heart of their communities, as well as all our advocacy. If Minister Krueger thinks he can safely defame arts organizations—organizations dealing with him with the utmost professionalism—without losing his job, we think he will find he is mistaken. Full transcript of Minister Krueger’s CFAX interview is below. The arts section of the interview is immediately after the section on the HST:

See also the Georgia Straight article.

CFAX Straight Talk 01-Sep-2010 16:10 Adam Stirling: We are joined by BC’s Minister of Tourism and the Arts, Kevin Krueger. First, Minister Krueger, thanks so much for coming on the show today. Continue reading

$7 million to go to BC Arts Council

This must be seen as good news, and the arts sector will be guardedly grateful for it. There are many questions: since it seems to be for “operating” clients rather than those who receive project funds, we don’t know if it will benefit larger arts organizations at the expense of smaller ones. We certainly hope it will not be a replay of SOFI at the Canada Council when only “Big 7” organizations such as opera and symphony were bailed out with a one-time sum. The BCAC will no doubt be holding information meetings for affected arts organizations regarding this money. We don’t know if these funds are coming too late for many organizations already in the process of closing their doors, or whether many organizations may find they are not eligible, but we will keep you posted on those situations. While we think this is a great first step in restoring what small funding we once had in this province, it must be pointed out that it’s just a first step. Even this restored $7 million does not get our sector out of emergency mode nor does it put BC significantly higher on the comparative Canadian scale – we’re still dead last. But it’s a sort of emergency first aid that is much needed right now. It’s progress, and we will continue fighting for more normal levels of arts funding in this province. Today’s announcement comes almost exactly a year after the retraction of Gaming funds for arts, part of new cuts totalling almost 91%. Those draconian cuts were somewhat reduced to between 50-60% in March, but that hasn’t lessened the emergency all that much and now many organizations are on the verge of closing. Gaming remains cut by approximately 55% or more. By Canadian standards today’s sum of $7 million is very, very small; it’s no wonder we as British Columbians have so little sense of our own identity and so little knowledge of our own culture compared to other provinces. BC governments chronically make inadequate investment – and it’s a lucrative investment, not a gift – in the BC cultural sector. But we do applaud the BC Liberals for beginning to do the right thing. The government’s press release is below.

Sept. 1, 2010 Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts


VICTORIA – The British Columbia Arts Council will administer $7 million in funding provided through the B.C. government’s 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy to support their strategic plan, Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts announced.  “I am confident in the council’s strategic plan to deliver on the Legacy’s goals through its work with B.C.’s vibrant arts community,” said Krueger. “This will increase the council’s budget to just over $16 million for the current fiscal year, demonstrating our government’s commitment to a strong, creative and growing arts community, even in these difficult economic times. These monies will be distributed to the arts community through the independent peer-review adjudication process that has been established by the council.” The government respects and values a strong independent council and is committed to ensuring this independence is maintained and enjoys the confidence of the arts community. “In 2009, the council board established its priorities and asked staff to prepare programs to fulfil the goals of the strategic plan. The additional funding announced today means the council will be able to advance the goals set out in our strategic plan, with a large portion of these funds going towards increased support for council’s operating clients, as indicated by the minister last month,” said Stan Hamilton, interim chair of the council. The council’s board will immediately review the programs that council staff has been developing in recent months in order to ensure that the program details and the funds may be released to the community promptly.” “Some of the programs to be implemented may include: support for the commissioning, creation, development and production of new works; artists in education; opportunities for the next generation of artists and further support for our operating clients in the spring and autumn rounds. The Legacy vision is consistent with these plans,” added Hamilton. As announced in the most recent Provincial budget, the 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy provides $60 million over three years to enhance sports, arts and cultural opportunities for all British Columbians. Of this amount, $10 million has been budgeted for culture and the arts during the current fiscal year, with $3 million allocated for the BC Spirit Festivals. The BC Arts Council supports arts and arts organization across the province and is governed by a 15-member council, which represents the regions, cultural diversity and artistic communities of British Columbia. For more information about the BC Arts Council and their strategic plan, please