Gaming Grant update

 

This has been a week of great uncertainty and speculation about the community’s Gaming Commission Direct Access grants.
 
Our communications director Kevin McKeown was able to speak late this afternoon with Kevin Smith, the acting director of grants for the BC Gaming Commission and received some clarification on the grant situation.
 
To begin with, Mr. Smith acknowledged that the multi-year program has been effectively discontinued. Any organization still waiting for word on the second or third installment of such a grant will be informed by letter that their application has been denied. When asked about the legal context of the multi-year agreements, Mr. Smith pointed out that there is a clause in the agreements which makes them subject to available funding. Despite the suggestions of some members of our community, there are no grounds for legal recourse.
 
Anyone still waiting for word on a one-time grant may still hear that they are receiving their funds, or a portion of what they applied for. However, calls and emails received by the Alliance yesterday and today are all from organizations whose applications have been denied.
 
If you have received positive news in the last couple of days (post-freeze) please let us know.  At the very least you may give hope to others.
 
Among the groups reporting that their grants have been denied are:
  • Alliance for Arts and Culture
  • Blackbird Theatre
  • Cantata Singers
  • Carousel Theatre
  • City Opera Vancouver
  • DreamRider Theatre
  • Flamenco Rosario
  • Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre
  • Presentation House Theatre
  • Musica Intima
  • Ptarmigan Music & Theatre Society
  • Rumble Productions
  • Shameless Hussy Productions
  • The Canadian Music Centre
  • The Dance Centre
  • Vancouver Celebrates Diwali
  • Vancouver International Writers Festival
  • Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra
  • and more ….
It also now appears that all artist-run centres have been denied.
When asked about the meaning of the “Special One Time Grant” category that now appears on the ministry website page where applicants check on the status of their grant applications, Mr. Smith was unable to offer clarification. He did promise to respond to a follow-up email with a full explanation.
That email was sent at about 3:46 pm and no reply had been received by 4:45 pm.
There is some speculation that this category is a way of indicating groups that have BC Arts Council grant applications pending, but that is just speculation.
We will continue to update you as information becomes available.

From Our Executive Director

I was going to up-date you on my meetings yesterday in Victoria , attempting to open communications and relationships with the Ministries of Arts Culture and Tourism and Social Housing and Social Development.  
I was going to tell you about how the ministries were on-side in support of the arts and culture in this province, I was going to be hopeful about changing attitudes and minds so that in the next budget in early 2010 our sector would fare better.  I was going to encourage civility and a solution-based attitude.  
I still think that civility and collaboration are useful to us – and I believe that Minister Krueger is genuinely interested in seeing funding restored to the sector- we need to make intelligent and clear arguments for and with him.  
Gaming grants are another story entirely.
 I, like many of you, am very disappointed and uncertain about our future as an organization and for our sector in general.  The gaming letters are being received and we have been overwhelmed by the number of organizations reporting that they were denied.
I am happy that those that were assessed prior to the “freeze” were spared the devastation, but the majority, as you know, have been denied, including the Alliance for Arts and Culture.  
My sympathy and empathy with those of you who have been denied gaming funds is deep and personal.
We have been cut as a sector without consideration of the important role we play in civil society and our contribution to social capital. These cuts are not only affecting the arts, but community sports, parent-teacher associations, and many other social profit sectors.    
This is the greatest penny-wise, pound foolish decision I have witnessed in recent years. The social costs of these cuts will be a kind of incurred debt out of which no manner of future spending will save us.  
This action reveals a government in panic – so let us not match that reaction.  Let us be calm and think together on how we can survive, though some of us may not. I get that. These cuts will not only weaken our civil society and therefore threaten the means by which democracy can work successfully,  but we will lose jobs, organizations, and skills in many communities around the province, and the economic impacts will be dire. These cuts are not strategic , but wholesale cuts to entire sectors.   
 
We need to get our stories out there in the media, to explain what we do and to have our patrons and audiences speak of us to the media and politicians.   We need to compile the data and quantify the impact.
We need to act .  Art is going to have to become political whether we like it or not.  We have a lot of power collectively – so let us stay united.
A series of forums to discuss strategies will be organized by the Alliance in the coming weeks, and we will reach out to include new partners in other social profit sectors.

 

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