That was quite a meeting this afternoon, that took many of us through a rollercoaster of emotions. Some emerged hopeful in learning that Minister Coleman had reversed his decision on the funding for multi-year clients of the Gaming funds.
It felt like a small battle in the war had been won and the sigh of relief through the room was palpable. Remember folks that this is only a partial victory that probably had to do with a variety of factors:
- Letters written by gaming clients;
- ·Spencer Herbert, Jenny Kwan, and probably members of the Liberal caucus as well (not publicly), who spoke in defense of the funding
- Constituents in the ridings of the Premier, Minister Coleman and Minister Krueger;
- The damage to credibility in not honouring multi-year agreements and the possibility of legal grounds to challenge the decision;
This is only speculation but my best guess. It does demonstrate that allies in community and among elected officials can make a difference. We are all happy to hear that the funding for multi-year clients will be forthcoming – but what about the others?
We cannot let this drive a wedge between us; this is a long-term effort and there are still many disturbing circumstances for us to deal with. We have to think about the future.
Back to our meeting.
The energy was great and it felt good to see so many of us in the arts community gather, ready to work together. As I said – this is the Alliance – not me and the three staff or the Board – but all of us together.
This is what I see were some of the items of consensus and outcomes of today’s meeting:
- We need a short term and a long-term strategy
- We need to speak the appropriate language to enlist allies in politics, in business, among our audiences, and with the social profit and the creative industries.
- We envision a society where “Art Matters”;
- There is interest in hiring a professional lobbyist to work with us and to help us learn how to work with government more effectively;
- We developed and agreed on developing an Advocacy Committee made up of the chairs of different sub-committees, including Direct Action, Research, Social Media, and Business and the Arts, and Alternative Funding.
Paul Gravet reminded me of the useful framework offered by John Holden (http://www.
calgaryartsdevelopment.com/ john_holden). When we move into research and advocacy this framework may be useful. Holden suggests that we talk about the Intrinsic, Instrumental and Institutional value of the arts.
A Call To Action
Near the end of our session there was a call to action – specifically a rally next week on Wednesday at noon in Robson Square.
We didn’t have much opportunity to discuss this and I feel a little uncomfortable with not having the opportunity to fully discuss what it may look like and what its purpose is. I believe people want to bring attention to the arts – to see us as valued and valuable. I’m not sure that an event where we disrupt traffic or rant at the public would be useful at this point.
I ask the Direct Action Committee, which I assume will shape the event, to ask itself what the purpose is – what, specifically is being protested? Or is it a protest at all – can it be a means by which we engage the public in a positive manner – to demonstrate the value of the arts and that Art Matters?
What if it is an “Art-in” with public performance, characters, costumes, music – that makes Robson Square animated, exciting – where we demonstrate the value of arts and culture.
Maybe we celebrate our small victory and press for complete restoration of the gaming funds? That may be more useful in both the short-term and long-term.
We will report back the notes from today’s meeting and continue to engage in this advocacy work. Keep checking our website for updates and resources.
If you are not currently a member of the Alliance, please join us and if you are, please make sure that you renew.
Thanks again to all who participated in today’s meeting and those who signed up to serve on committees.
We will follow up with those who signed up and connet you virtually – each committee should select a chair and set up a work plan for the next few weeks. Chairs of those committees will form an Advocacy Committee, which will also include some members at large.