Tag Archives: British Columbia

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.

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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”.

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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Bill Horne’s “Solidarity” Photo Series of Workers in Support of the Arts

Solidarity series by Bill Horne

Many British Columbians have already seen Bill Horne‘s “Solidarity” photo series depicting loggers, miners, pulp mill workers, farmers (and hunters, still to come) speaking out in public support of the arts. The whole photo essay can also be seen in our previous post here. Bill’s moving photographs have done exactly what Bill hoped they would do, which is to demonstrate the crucial role of the arts in smaller communities as well as to disrupt widely-held stereotypes, both about the arts and about resource and rural workers. It’s hard to think of another example of art or communication in British Columbia that has so effectively cut through our most stubborn stereotypical ideas of who we actually are as a province, a culture and a people. Bill has a long background in community arts work and has been an extremely active community volunteer. He explains below his motivation for his photo series:

I started this series to illustrate our interconnectedness at a time when the BC government has made drastic cuts to arts funding, diverted gaming money from non-profits, and is trying to pit artists against the neediest of society.

I also wanted to break some insidious stereotypes: of working class people as “red necks” who aren’t involved in the arts; of the arts as inherently “elitist,” It seemed like a good time to revive that rusty, but trusty concept of solidarity. Eventually I want to set up a reflection of solidarity back from artists in various disciplines…

I’m very proud of all the people in these photos, and grateful for their participation in this project.

If you are interested in being in a photo shoot, please contact me via mazing at claireart dot ca. I am particularly interested in gathering more images of people in industrial trades and resource extraction.

In the meantime, please check out the links beside the photos and be sure to write your MLA and the Minister demanding the restoration of arts funding in BC.

Thanks,

Bill Horne
Wells, BC

Splash page image:
Bruce Self’s old Studebaker truck door, Tatlayoko Lake: a bit worn, but still solid.

Loggers, Pulp Mill Workers, Miners and Farmers say Restore Arts Funding Now!

Loggers speak out against BC arts cuts. Photo: Bill Horne

Forestry workers Michel Bernier and Jerry Krouzel are mad about what the BC government has done with gaming funds previously earmarked for the arts. (All of these photos were taken by Wells, BC photographer Bill Horne, whose information is at bottom. Link to this original photo is here.)

Bernier and Krouzel are currently working on a fuel management and fire protection program near Barkerville Historic Town in BC’s north Cariboo. Both are incensed about the negative impact of the gaming money grab on the hinterland’s culture and economy, because the resource sector provides so much of the province’s revenues.

“That money was meant to go to non-profits and the arts,” says Bernier. “They should give back ALL of it,” noting that although the government returned some gaming money, many non-profit and arts organizations weren’t eligible. “They didn’t say anything about this during last spring’s election.”

“Non-profits and arts groups are very important, especially in small communities in the hinterland, but they’re fragile. This funding can make or break them,” said Krouzel.

As one local example, gaming money has made up more than 10% of Island Mountain Arts’ annual budget in Wells. Its board is now struggling to make up the shortfall or cut its programming.

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Denise Dauvin, pulp mill worker, speaks out against BC arts cuts, Photo: Bill Horne

Prince George pulp mill worker, Denise Dauvin, loves her tunes and is unhappy about recent cuts to the arts in BC that affect the province’s musicians. (Link to original photo by Bill Horne is here.)

Sarah McLachlan is one of my faves,” said Dauvin at the truck dumps, “and she’s right when she says the cuts are a tragedy.”

McLachlan has been speaking out against the cuts in the media recently and has said she thinks “arts and culture are a huge part of what makes our part of the world vibrant.”

Dauvin likes the music of Roy Forbes, too, and wonders what support there will be for budding musicians who come from far-flung corners of the province like he did (Forbes hails from Dawson Creek). As one example of the current crisis in the arts, Music BC faces cuts to its travel assistance program, operating funds, and the Western Canadian Music Awards.

She believes that music is an essential creative outlet for children, and as important as sports and education in a child’s growth and development.

“Why is our government cutting culture at a time when US President Barack Obama has just named 25 artists and educators to a national arts advisory committee, and the US Congress has increased funding the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities?” asks Dauvin. “If they think it’s smart to invest in the arts during a recession, why can’t we?”

Dauvin has been a heavy equipment operator at the pulpmill for over seven years.

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BC Miners speak out against BC arts cuts. Photo: Bill Horne

Devlin’s Bench gold miners Rob Dakau and Dave Jorgenson are strongly opposed to recent cuts to BC’s arts budget. (Link to original photo by Bill Horne is here.)

“When government ministers try to pit artists against hungry children, that’s a false dichotomy,” says heavy equipment operator Rob Dakau. “It’s not an elite thing. Children in our region benefit from art classes at Island Mountain Arts in Wells. And they learn to think creatively.”

Jorgenson, Devlin’s Bench mine manager and a Past President of the Wells & District Chamber of Commerce, says “our culture and our economy are interconnected. Some of us at the mine host musicians during the annual ArtsWells Festival; others provide security; most of us try to attend. Events like ArtsWells bring much-needed dollars to our community.”

He believes the government ought to be investing in the arts during the recession instead of making drastic cuts.

Pete Wright, whose company operates the mine, says that in a small community like Wells, tiny investments in the arts generate a positive ripple effect in the local economy. “In my business, I have to look ahead and consider the global economy. Countries like Singapore are investing in the arts for long term growth – why aren’t we?”

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Dragon Mtn farmers speak out against BC arts cuts. Photo: Bill Horne

Cariboo farmers Janet Allen and Murray Boal want the BC government to restore arts funding to pre-election levels. (Link to original photo by Bill Horne is here.)

Both farmers are angry that the BC government claimed that culture was the “second pillar” of its bid for the 2010 Olympics, and now has slashed arts funding by up to 90% over the next two years.

“We work hard producing nutritious food, but we know people also need the nourishment of books, art, dance, theatre and music,” said Allen.

“Our economy needs it, too,” she said. Allen notes that every dollar invested by the province in the arts returns between $1.05
and $1.36 directly to provincial treasuries through tax revenues. “Surely it makes sense to invest in this sector during the recession, especially considering the growing importance of cultural tourism for jobs.”

Boal says the government ought to be ashamed of devoting the lowest percentage of all provinces of its operating budget to culture in spite of having the largest percentage of its labour force in arts occupations. “We’re investing less than half the national average,” he says. “Québec invests nearly four times what we do. We need to narrow this gap, not make it worse.”

Dragon Mountain Farm was established in 1979 and has supplied 120 North Cariboo households with vegetables every summer since 1997. It is located 35 km southeast of Quesnel, BC on the Quesnel River.

As well as farming, Murray Boal has worked as a woodworker and a musician. He has recorded four CDs, the latest with Bob Campbell as the “wingdamramblers.” Janet Allen has a keen interest in social justice issues and is involved in local economic development. In her spare time she enjoys working with horses and border collies. For his part, Nick loves chasing the ball.

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All of these beautiful photographs were taken by Bill Horne, Wells, BC, after arts in his region were devastated by arts funding cuts. For further information, contact Bill at Amazing Space Studio, Wells, BC, 250-994-2332, or email mazing at claireart dot ca.