Monthly Archives: October 2010

Globe & Mail: Ministry name-change leaves artists concerned

By Marsha Lederman. Reprinted from the Globe and Mail, October 25, 2010

What’s in a name? A lot, say some B.C. artists, and they’re worried.

In Monday’s cabinet shuffle, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts disappeared, replaced by a Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. That makes British Columbia the only Canadian province or territory without a culture ministry. Sure there’s “culture” in “cultural development,” but that distinction makes some people in the arts community extremely apprehensive.

“I think it’s probably a very, very negative move,” said Lindsay Brown of the advocacy group Stop B.C. Arts Cuts. “ ‘Cultural development’ sounds so euphemistic, and my worry about it is you can then make it anything, and you don’t actually have to state in it any kind of commitment to any arts funding.”

Ms. Brown was “overjoyed,” however, about the removal of Kevin Krueger from the culture portfolio. “He was probably the most unprofessional and incompetent arts minister we have ever had to endure.”

The relationship between Mr. Krueger and the arts community had deteriorated over the past year-and-a-half, beginning with cuts in provincial arts funding and, more recently, with Mr. Krueger stating in some media interviews that he felt threatened while meeting with arts groups.

Ms. Brown welcomed a fresh start with a new minister, but expressed concerns that the new minister, Stephanie Cadieux, is a rookie in cabinet. “You can’t see that as a good sign. … But no matter how bad she [might turn out to be], she can’t be as bad as Kevin Krueger.”

NDP Culture Critic Spencer Chandra Herbert said on Monday that he was worried about the ministry’s name change, especially on the heels of what he called “huge” cuts in arts funding.

“To me, it’s a bit of an insult to everybody who supports arts and culture in the province, and seems to point to a further de-prioritization of arts and culture from this government. When you eliminate ‘arts’ out of the title, that does send a signal that, to government, it’s not very important. Certainly by their actions in terms of major cuts in arts investment they’ve shown that, and now they’re just confirming it.”

The executive-director of the Alliance for Arts and Culture, Amir Ali Alibhai, said the name change could “suggest that there’s less of a priority being placed on the professional practice of the arts.”

Mr. Alibhai was quick to say that’s not necessarily a bad thing: “It has the potential to be very inclusive. It suggests to me that there’s something to invest in, to develop, and it’s kind of forward looking. … But of course there’s some concern about not sacrificing values like artistic merit, but I think that’s safeguarded by the B.C. Arts Council.”

Gillian Wood, executive-director of the arts council, said it will be business as usual under the new ministry and minister.

Ms. Cadieux was not available for an interview on Monday.

Advertisements

Open Letter from the BCACG to Minister Rich Coleman


Rich Coleman, Minister for Housing and Social Development (responsible for Gaming)

This damning Open Letter from the British Columbia Association For Charitable Gaming to Minister Rich Coleman concerns the legality of Coleman’s sweeping cuts to charities and non-profits across BC. These organizations include arts and culture organizations. Coleman recently claimed there was no legal agreement with charities, only an “understanding.” This is patently untrue.

Please read the letter. For further information on the legality question and the history of gaming and charities in BC, read the fascinating associated brief. (If you are a serious legal geek, see this on the government’s site.)

What can you do?

1. Post the item to your Facebook profile, and pleas “Like” the BCACG’s Page.
2. If you are a Vancouver resident, *please* sign the petition to Vancouver City Hall!
3. Write to Rich Coleman. Tell him what you think of his cavalier attitude to Gaming funds. The people of British Columbia did not intend Gaming revenues to become a slush fund entirely at his discretion. Remind the Minister, politely of course, that he works for us, not the other way around.

October 15, 2010

Open Letter to Minister Rich Coleman

Dear Minister Coleman,

We write on behalf of the nearly 7000 B.C. charities affected by gaming grants. These groups include the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Deaf Children’s Society, Surrey Hospice Society, North Shore Rescue Team, Horsefly Volunteer Fire Department, Pacific Post Partum Support Society, Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre, Charlie Lake PAC, Campbell River Minor Hockey, Cerebral Palsy Sport Association, and thousands more worthwhile community causes across B.C.

Our members, tens of thousands of them, are at work 7 days a week, 365 days a year, helping the poor, the weak and vulnerable, the elderly, disabled, the bullied child, sports teams, the arts, refugees and immigrants, and our environment. They man crisis lines, deliver Meals on Wheels, and search for the lost in our mountains and forests. We could not ever afford to buy what our charities and non-profits give us for free. We cannot live without them, and they never stop giving of themselves, no matter how hard it gets.

On Friday, October 15, you were asked to comment on our request to Vancouver City Council to postpone hearing any application to expand the gambling licenses relating to the planned Edgewater Casino redevelopment and expansion, pending the provincial government agreeing to honour its agreement to allocate 33.3% of net gaming revenues to B.C. charities.

You said that there was no agreement, only a letter of understanding, and that you have other bills to pay.

Minister Coleman, you are mistaken.

Continue reading

Letter to BC’s Finance Committee by Bill Horne of Wells, BC


All photos: Bill Horne

Dear Finance Committee Members:

I am writing as an artist and small business owner with 15 years’ experience in small town BC. I am also a Director of our Local Chamber of Commerce and the Vice-President of CARFAC BC, the provincial affiliate of Canadian Artists’ Representation/le front des artistes canadiens.

The two main things I would like you to consider are the restoration of all Gaming monies to the non-profit sector, without any strings attached, and a tripling of the province’s investment in the cultural sector.

The seasonal tourism economy in the north central interior is fragile enough as it is, especially in the wake of the recession, the pine beetle epidemic and this summer’s forest fires. I know that the gallery my wife and I operate brought in just 60% of the sales we had in 2009, and we are doing better than many people.

The decline in tourist numbers and sales makes us acutely aware of the impact of things like drastic cuts to the arts budget, the dissolution of Tourism BC, the siphoning of Gaming monies from non-profits, the unpredictable and unstable application of policy and funding in the arts sector, and the introduction of the HST.

Those of us who operate businesses in small communities are dependent on each other’s successes for our individual survival.Although it might be simpler to process HST remittances for our own particular business, its negative effect on local restaurants is causing less of their customers to circulate or stay in our town. The effect on outdoor tourism operators is another negative that will impact us, too.

My wife and I moved to Wells in part because of the existence of Island Mountain Arts, a non-profit which has been offering arts programs and operating a gallery for over 30years. In recent years it has also organized the Arts Wells Festival.

There is no question of its significant role in the culture and economy of our region. The relatively small investments of public funding this organization has received have a ripple effect that is estimated to bring $500K each summer to the north Cariboo, and easily twice that when the Festival is included.

When the government cuts arts funding, changes gaming fund rules, changes them again, changes rules retroactively, it wreaks havoc in the arts sector. It makes it extremely difficult for volunteer boards and staff to carry out a sound business plan. It creates uncertainty among businesses such as ours, as well as accommodations and restaurants, and it weakens our already fragile market.

Imagine the outcry from industry if the government were to slash funding to the school of forestry at UBC, or from mining if geology programs were cut. From this point of view, I believe that the reckless, disproportionate cuts to the arts — without consultation with the sector’s stakeholders — has threatened to undermine the potential of our province’s creative economy. And because the arts are not as separate from the majority of British Columbians as the government may like to think, these ill-advised policies are undermining other parts of our economy as well.

Last fall I began creating a series of portraits of people in various trades and occupations who support a strong arts sector. Their participation and enthusiasm underlines our connectivity and contradicts the myth that the arts are elitist and somehow separate. The response to my online “Solidarity Series” has been very positive, both from artists and from non-artists. I hope you enjoy the samples on the following pages. The complete text can be found at http://www.claireart.ca.

Bill Horne
Wells, BC