NEWS: Arts Community Leaders Disappointed by Budget

“Premier Ignored MLAs and His Own Finance Committee”

VICTORIA: Emerging from today’s budget lockup at the BC Legislature, Alliance for Arts and Culture executive director Amir Ali Alibhai, Victoria Symphony executive director Mitchell Krieger, and ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria coordinator Scott Walker expressed disappointment at the budget’s half-hearted support for the arts in British Columbia.

“Premier Gordon Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen seem to have largely disregarded the recommendations of their own Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services and continue to ignore the importance of the creative sector ” said Mr. Alibhai.

“The Cultural Olympiad was a significant achievement for Canadian artists” Mr. Krieger added. “With this budget, however, it appears that what we have recently experienced was only a moment in time, as support for the arts continues to fall to record levels.”

“Our athletes' achievements at the Olympics – and the phenomenal success of the Cultural Olympiad – have been a brilliant demonstration of what investing in talent does – for the individuals involved and for Canadian national pride. What an incredible return on investment” said Mr. Walker.

“The stunning spectacle of people convening in the city streets night after night – it was the musicians, artists, and street performers who made that experience work” noted Mr. Alibhai. “Art was the glue that held the Olympic experience in place for locals and visitors alike. From the major stages of the theatres and stadiums to the clubs and pubs and street corners, entertainers stepped up to the plate to ensure that the athletes and their fans had the experience of a lifetime.

“We’ve shown what we can do, and it is truly disappointing that this budget demonstrates that our government does not understand this fundamental equation.”

At first glance, the 2010/11 Budget for arts and culture does appear to fully restore funding to 2008/09 levels, as recommended by the Standing Committee.

On further exploration, however, the arts community spokesmen noted that funding for the Royal BC Museum ($12.1M) is included in the figures presented this year; previously it has not been included. There is also a “mystery” $10M allocation, which is currently not fully defined nor allocated to any existing funding organization, such as the BC Arts Council.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with the government to make the most effective use of this investment,” said Mr. Krieger.

The following table attempts to compare “apples to apples” and gives a summary of our interpretation of the 2010 Budget. Gaming funds for arts and cultural allocations as well as funding for BC Arts Council grants are significantly lower than in 2008/09.

"Why not just restore BC Arts Council to the $19M level of 2008/09" asked Mr. Alibhai. "Where has the $7M cut from Gaming funds to the Arts and Culture gone?"

 To win its bid for the 2010 Olympics, the BC government boasted about the British Columbia’s vibrant arts and culture scene, claiming that culture was the "second pillar" of the Games. “We were hoping the government would continue to consider culture an important pillar of our society, ” the arts community spokespersons agreed.

“The economic, social, health and educational benefits to our communities created by investing in arts and culture, by all levels of government, are well documented” stated Mr. Walker.

“Public funding for the arts is the research and development of cultural spending”, added Mr. Alibhai, “providing the initial investment costs that allow artists and their organizations to begin their work, and then leverages additional private support which allows the work to develop. This government seems unwilling to strengthen that foundation, denying all British Columbians the well known benefits of a healthy creative sector.”

“Artists, arts organizations, community partners, corporate sponsors and our audiences throughout will respond to this budget in a forceful manner” predicted Mr. Alibhai.

“We’ve shown the world what BC artists can do,” concluded Mr. Walker. “What we were hoping for was that the government would learn from the past two weeks and continue to invest in the Arts. When all those visitors return – as the government tells us they will – what they’ll find with this budget is a lot of closed doors and cancelled arts programs.”

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About the Alliance for Arts and Culture: The Alliance for Arts and Culture is British Columbia's largest creative sector advocacy and member services organization. The membership of nearly 400 groups and individuals includes cultural icons such as the Museum of Vancouver, the Vancouver Symphony and the Playhouse Theatre, Vancouver's many festival events and numerous smaller dance, theatre, visual arts and music companies and galleries, and individual artists.

About the ProArt Alliance: The ProArt Alliance (Professional Arts Alliance of Greater Victoria) was formed to advance the important role the arts play in the life of our community, and to advocate for public sector support. ProArt believes that, by working in partnership with our legislators and government agencies, we can sustain and build our region's vibrant cultural sector for the benefit of all of our residents and visitors.

MEDIA CONTACTS

In Vancouver
Kevin Dale McKeown / Director of Communications
Alliance for Arts and Culture
604.681.3535 and communications@allianceforarts.com

In Victoria
Scott Walker / Coordinator
ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria
250.896.0860 and info@proartalliance.ca

 

“Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?”
Gabrielle Roy, as quoted on the Canadian twenty dollar bill.


 

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