$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

BC ARTS COUNCIL RECEIVES ADDITIONAL FUNDING

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 visitwww.bcartscouncil.ca.

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