September 15, 2010
Open Letter to Premier Gordon Campbell
Dear Premier Campbell,
On behalf of the arts and cultural communities and the citizens of British Columbia, the Alliance for Arts and Culture wishes to express its public gratitude for allocating the Arts and Culture Legacy funds to the British Columbia Arts Council (BCAC). The $7 million will make up for the erosion of the BCAC’s grants budget, bringing it close to the levels of two years ago. This support will enable the Council to proceed with its strategic plan, which promises to better serve the citizens of this province.
Your government has invested in the arts and cultural sector in significant ways during its mandate, and we thank you for that. However, the current economic challenges seem to have changed your government’s commitment. The recent cuts have had huge impacts on many arts organizations in this province. The allocation of $7 million to the BCAC helps, and we trust that the Arts and Culture Legacy Fund will continue to be allocated to the BCAC over the next two years as well. Ideally, we would like to see an enhanced appropriation for the BCAC beyond the $7 million.
We also expect that your government will address the considerable loss of arts and cultural investment (60 percent) that was previously available through the BC Gaming Commission. The social contract with British Columbians regarding the expansion of gambling in this province should not be disregarded at the expense of civil society.
The current criteria and priorities for Direct Access grants exclude most arts and cultural organizations, community-based and professional, which were previously able to access these funds. The impact of the recent Gaming cuts has had the most profound impact on access to arts and culture around this province. Many community-based and volunteer-run organizations, as well as emerging and culturally diverse organizations, are left without any support for their work. Unfortunately, some of them fall outside the mandate of the BCAC, even though they are essential to a healthy civil society and contribute greatly to the quality of life in their communities.
What this province needs is a vision and plan for arts and culture, including heritage. The world has changed and its challenges are immediate and great. We strongly believe that arts and culture have a crucial part to play in the economic, social, environmental, healthcare, and educational future of a British Columbia that is indeed among the best places on Earth.
The arts and cultural community is eager to be part of the articulation of such a vision and plan, as we are certain the government of this province is as well.
Alliance for Arts and Culture