Tag Archives: arts cuts

Some Spirit Festival” money directed to BC Arts Council, but little & late

If you haven’t seen the text of Minister responsible for the arts Ida Chong’s announcement on July 7, view it here.

The government has used some money from the $60M “Sports And Arts
Legacy Fund” established in the 2010 budget to keep the BC Arts
Council at a “stable” level in terms of its grants budget (although we
understand there may be a shortfall in money for BCAC-related staffing
at the Ministry). This is an achievement of sorts, as the mis-named
“Legacy Fund” was meant to provide money for politically-advantageous
initiatives, theoretically in the amount of $10M a year over three
years, and was not meant for the BC Arts Council, which some members of Caucus
see as a non-advantageous delivery mechanism. So, to have acquired
part of this budget (again, similar to last year) is not a small
thing, and congratulations are no doubt due to the BCAC Board and to
people at the Ministry.


It is apparent that there is little will for either replacing the
investment formerly made through Gaming Direct Access (a poor delivery
mechanism, but one which compensated for the fact that the BCAC has
never had a budget adequate to fulfill its mandate), or for increasing
cultural investment at the provincial level in way which will enable
us to leverage and increase other sources of cultural investment,
enable us to bring more art to more publics, and enable us to create a
better working environment for artists and artists’ organizations.

The manner in which this year-to-year budget “stability” has been
achieved is also troubling. The BCAC started this budget year with
about half of the previous year’s grants budget, and with no apparent
commitment to increasing that budget during the year. It was not until
the evening of Thursday July 7 that the actual grants budget seems to have been
finalized. This is not conducive to proper planning: one quarter of
the year has gone by, a quarter in which projects have been juried
and assessed and funding allocated to them based on a plan containing
question marks where there should have been figures.

BC’s arts and culture industry needs, as other sectors need, stable investment if we are going to produce the kind of vital sector that attracts residents, good jobs, tourism, and general social health to the region.


Federal arts cuts coming?

Federal Finance Minister James Flaherty (rather than Heritage Minister James Moore, interestingly) issued threats of potential arts cuts just days before Canada Day. His warning came on the heels of the abrupt slashing of grants to Toronto’s successful Summerworks Festival  which had drawn the ire of the Conservative government the summer before for its political content. The cuts to Summerworks are clearly politically motivated, are an utterly unacceptable interference in the arts, and are a threat to basic Canadian freedoms. Further threats to investment in other parts of the Canadian culture industry are also unacceptable, a reversal of the Harper government’s stated intentions during their election campaign, and economically let alone socially unwise. CBC story follows:

Don’t count on grants, Flaherty warns arts groups – Arts & Entertainment – CBC News

“Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has a warning for cultural institutions that have come to rely on regular government funding: don’t count on it.

Flaherty delivered the message Tuesday shortly after announcing $500,000 in support for this year’s Canada Walk of Fame Festival, to be held in Toronto.

The funding falls under the Canada Arts Presentation Fund administered by Canada Heritage.

On Monday, SummerWorks, an acclaimed Toronto indie theatre festival, announced it had lost its federal funding. The festival made headlines last year after staging “Homegrown,” a play about a convicted terrorist, a member of the group known as the Toronto 18.

In a note posted on its blog, the festival said it had received federal funding for five straight years — totalling $140,000 — and was surprised to learn it would not get more money this year.

But Flaherty says arts organizations should not set their budgets assuming they’ll get government funds.

“One thing I’d say, and maybe it’s different than it used to be, is we actually don’t believe in festivals and cultural institutions assuming that year after year after year they’ll receive government funding,” Flaherty said.

“They ought not assume entitlement to grants … no organization should assume in their budgeting that every year the government of Canada is going to give them grants because there’s lots of competition, lots of other festivals, and there are new ideas that come along.

“So it’s a good idea for everyone to stay on their toes and not make that assumption.”


For more information on the cuts to Summerworks in particular, read:

Globe and Main: SummerWorks appearance gave Victoria’s Ride the Cyclone legs

And just as an aside, here’s what the federal government thinks is worth investing in, culturally, outside the Canada Council or other arms length agencies. Is the government deciding what our culture will be now or does Canada’s culture industry perhaps make more informed choices, let alone better and wise use of tax dollars?

1. Canada’s Walk of Shame: It’s your tax dollars at work

2. Ottawa plans $100-million celebration of War of 1812

The 1970s in Canada were a golden age of culture in Canada (NFB, CBC, film, visual arts, design) & we could do that again.

Or fighter jets.

What sort of country do we want?

Write Minister Flaherty and Minister James Moore and tell them that you as a Canadian citizen and audience member do not want cuts of investment to Canadian culture and the Canadian culture industry. It might also be good to tell them that government must not dictate the content of Canadian culture, and that the cuts to Summerworks are disturbing.


A couple of lines is enough.


Dutch political theatre around arts cuts – ad in the New York Times

Via artandeducation.net.



Dutch protest arts cuts

The Hague, June 27, 2011. “The Dutch arts community protests the pending 200 million euro cuts which will decimate the unique Dutch cultural landscape.”

Full story at CBC and  Guardian. Amazing video of clash with police here.

Globe and Mail poll: should gaming grants to arts be restored?

This was a poll that ran in the Globe and Mail in October. Pretty definitive. After last year’s gaming grant cuts, during which almost all arts organizations in the province were made entirely ineligible for grants, many jobs were lost in the arts. There is a legally binding agreement between the BC government and charities (of which the arts were a founding member) dictating that a significant portion of gaming revenues would go to arts and other charities. The BC government has never extinguished this agreement and yet is not abiding by it. We have been calling for return of these funds – especially in the context of the huge expansion of gambling in this province – to no avail. It seems that the public agrees with us. Restore the funds. British Columbians gamble believing their money is going to charities. It mostly isn’t. The public ought to be made aware of this fact.

Sign the BCACG’s petition here. The BC Ass’n of Charitable Gaming is the organization that advocates for all charities receiving gaming funds. Thank you.

British Columbia – the Last Place on Earth… to fund culture!

British Columbia, “The Best Place on Earth”? Last place on earth to find culture, too. In Canada, anyway.  The piece above, silkscreened on recycled and pulped lottery tickets, is by BC artist Bill Horne. See the entire piece on his site here. As you may or may not know, slightly more than half of BC arts funding came from gaming (gambling) revenues. These funds were called gaming or “Direct Access” grants. Last year, the BC government made arts ineligible for gaming grants. BC was already last in Canada in terms of investing in provincial arts and culture, and now we are last by a very, very large margin. What is the BC government doing, gambling that BC arts can survive this spell? Why does the arts sector, which provides 80,000 jobs in BC, deserve zero investment when other industrial sectors receive such generous subsidies?

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.