Media Release Re: Wednesday's Meeting

MEDIA RELEASE: "Culture Matters" was the core message that arts community leaders agreed on at a gathering yesterday at the H.R. McMillan Space Centre's auditorium.

Convened by the Alliance for Arts and Culture to address recent cuts in provincial funding of the arts, both through the BC Arts Council and the BC Gaming Grant program, the meeting filled the 216-seat hall, with an an overlow of 40 attendees moved to an adjacent room where they were able to listen to the proceeding through an audio feed.

More than 65 BC arts organizations were represented, and many individual artists and arts patrons were also in attendance.

"There is a great deal of anger and frustration right now." said Alliance Executive Director Amir Ali Alibhai, "Our task is to channel that anger into constructive initiatives. This was just the first of many meetings and actions that the Alliance will be spearheading in the weeks and months to come."

"We know that culture matters and that it is a vital part of the fabric of our communities" said Mr. Alibhai. "We also know that it is a powerful economic force that creates jobs and supports other business sectors. And we know that culture is the beating heart of a civil society.

"What we must do is find new and compelling ways to share that knowledge with others, rally our natural allies and build new alliances to make the case that 'Culture Matters' to those who will be making future budget decisions"

Among the key points raised during the wide-ranging two-hour discussion were:

  • The need to continue to address elected and non-elected government officials in a respectful and constructive manner;
  • The need to emphasize the point that the arts community does not stand alone but is part of a larger "social profit" sector that includes community sports and social services -- which together with business and government form the real "culture" of our community;
  • Mobilize our many allies and supporters, including our service providers and other businesses we work with, to let their elected representatives know that "Culture Matters" to them;
  • Educate ourselves, our audiences and the public as to the full scope of overall funding cuts;
  • Ensure that the public understands that Gaming Grant funds are not "taxes" and are part of a larger "social contract" that government entered into with the people of British Columbia at the onset of gaming in this province;
  • Sustain these and other strategies and initiatives in the long term so that it is clear to governments at all levels that we are going to heard, and responded to, now and in the future.

"The energy in the room Wednesday was great, and it felt good to see so many of us in the arts community ready to work together." said Mr. Alibhai.  "The Alliance is committed to providing the leadership and providing a communications hub for that work."

The beginnings of an umbrella advocacy committee emerged from Wednesday's meeting, with sub-committes formed to work on important aspects of advocacy work and share the results with the entire community.

"Yesterday's announcement that the Ministry of Housing and Social Services is restoring funding to multi-year Gaming Grant recipients was welcome news, and a great relief to many arts groups." said Mr. Alibhai. "But it represents only a slight pause in the assault on arts funding across the board, and we must multiply our efforts to reverse what is really an abrogation of a social contract.

 

Further details of the discussion at Wednesday’s meeting, and information about the Advocacy Committee, will be posted on the Alliance website at www.allianceforarts.com in the coming days.

The Alliance for Arts and Culture was founded in 1986 to provide advocacy and professional training services to the Metro Vancouver arts community, strengthen its collective voice and facilitate community connections and dialogue. The Alliance currently has 350 member organizations, businesses and individuals.

Media Contact:

Kevin Dale McKeown
Director of Communications
Alliance for Arts and Culture
604.681.3535 (215)
kdm@allianceforarts.com

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