Tag Archives: BC

BC municipal elections – who are your arts candidates?

Cartoon - Arts cuts activists

Do you know which of your mayoral, council, parks and school board candidates support the arts? If you do, please leave their names (and any other information) and your municipality in the comments! You can also tweet their names to us, if you are on twitter: our account is http://twitter.com/stopbcartscuts.

And if anyone comes up with a good hashtag – something better than #VoteBCarts – please let us know!

The arts are becoming stronger in BC. The win against the mega-casino proposed for Vancouver, an arts-activist-led fight, has made politicians more aware of the strength of artists and the arts lobby. Let’s keep the momentum up. Be heard! Tell your candidates you care about the arts in your community; ask them what they plan to do to expand the creative sector; invite them to an all-candidates meeting on the arts. It will be very revealing.


Jann Bailey, Director of the Kamloops Art Gallery speaks out

Here is a recent statement by Jann Bailey, Executive Director of the Kamloops Art Gallery. She joins many other British Columbians on our many “Speak Out” page here.

Governments at all levels invest in the arts. Economically and socially, the arts enrich our lives and help to create vibrant communities that entice people to come live and work. They are also the infrastructure for a creative economy. The cultural community is lobbying against cuts that will significantly change the face of the arts in British Columbia now and into the future. We are advocating first and foremost for reasonable, competitive per capita expenditures on the arts in B.C. The Government of British Columbia comes dead last on the list of Canadian provinces in their per capita spending on the arts. The national average is $26.73 per person; in BC it’s $6.50. The Yukon is ranked number one, spending $268.52 per person on the arts. The arts play a significant role in the evolution of a civil society, and at a micro level, the wellbeing and development of our children. As Sir Kenneth Robinson, renowned author, speaker and international advisor on education states, “Creativity is as important in education as literacy”.

BCACG asks BC Auditor General to Investigate Coleman’s cuts to Charities

The BC Association For Charitable Gaming has formally asked the BC Auditor General to look into the BC government’s failure to live up to the 1999 Memorandum of Agreement which legally binds it to hand over 1/3 of all BC gaming revenues to BC’s charities and non-profits (including arts). The Agreement has never been honoured nor has it been extinguished by any subsequent legislation. It seems that there is a strong legal case against the government, and the Auditor General is being asked to rule on the matter. The mission of the office of the Auditor General is “To serve the people of British Columbia and their elected representatives by conducting independent audits and advising on how well government is managing its responsibilities and resources.”

As you may know, more than half of government investment in the arts came from these gaming funds until last year’s cuts, when the arts were excluded from all gaming revenue. This happened entirely at Minister Coleman’s discretion. In fact, the non-transparent and entirely discretionary nature of the use of billions of dollars in Gaming revenues should really be subject to an inquiry, above and beyond the $1.3 billion in arrears that appears to be owed to BC’s non-profit sector.

The media release:

Charities Seek Auditor-General Investigation into Government Use of Gaming Proceeds

Today the BC Association for Charitable Gaming asks the provincial Auditor General to investigate the provincial government’s administration and distribution of gaming proceeds transferred to it from the BC Lottery Corporation.

According to a revenue-sharing formula with municipalities and the charitable sector, 33.3% of net charitable gaming revenues are owed to charities.

The provincial government has failed to account for its receipts to the BCACG, and has failed to distribute to charities an amount in excess of $1 billion owing under its own agreements over the last 10 years.

We ask the Auditor General for an accounting of those funds and a determination of the status of the province’s outstanding liability to BC charities.

The charitable sector has actively supported the BC Lottery Corporation’s numerous applications to expand gaming across the province, having been assured that this support would bring critically needed revenues to the charitable sector. Despite provincial gaming revenues doubling over the last ten years, none of the proceeds of expanded gaming have gone to the charitable sector, and proceeds from the provincial government are now millions of dollars below 1995 levels.

We ask for direction that the BCACG and the public are entitled to full, clear, and consistent reporting of BC Lottery Corporation revenues from all sources, the provincial government’s calculation of total gaming grants, and consultation respecting the distribution of grants across the province.

We seek a determination that BC charities’ share of gaming net revenues are held by the provincial government as a form of trust and, in accordance with trust principles, should not be commingled with tax revenues and treated as discretionary proceeds within in the provincial Consolidated Revenue Fund.

We seek a finding that proceeds to charities are not currently distributed in accordance with the independent, transparent, and accountable standard required of trust administration.

We ask the Auditor General further to investigate whether the provincial government has misused its authority as trustee of funds payable to BC charities by interfering in the eligibility process for political purposes.

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.

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

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.

The Winter of Art’s Discontent, by Laura Trethewey

Article originally appeared in Broken Pencil magazine. Reprinted with permission from Broken Pencil and writer Laura Trethewey.

During a recession, governments both federal and municipal are on the hunt for places to cut costs and the arts seem to be an easy target. Laura Trethewey followed the carnage of arts funding cuts across the country to see the effect on local artists and, ultimately, our culture.

“I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people at, you know, a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren’t high enough, when they know those subsidies have actually gone up — I’m not sure that’s something that resonates with ordinary people.”

– Stephen Harper, September 2008

Hot in the pursuit of a majority government in the midst of the 2008 election, Stephen Harper landed in Saskatoon. The Star Phoenix predicted a talk on crime and justice, but in between the tough-on-crime rhetoric came a now infamous diatribe against arts funding. No one, least of all artists, expected the arts to become a serious election issue. But in retrospect, Harper’s ill-advised aside may well have slowed his party’s momentum and contributed to the last minute slide that led to their second minority win.

The comment also led to the rarest thing of all, an actual debate about our cultural life, one that pitted those committed to the funding of the arts against those obsessed with fiscal restraint and the wisdom of the free market. Now, a year-and-a-half later, it’s like that conversation never happened.

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