Response to "Liberals clarify B.C. Spirit Festivals plan to arts groups"

The following is a response by Sandy Garossino, Alliance Board Member and Advocacy Task Force Chair, to the a Georgia Straight news item "Liberals clarify B.C. spirit Festivals plan to arts groups".  The comment was originally posted on the Alliance’s Facebook page.

Having these grants administered by independent peer review and based on population is a positive step. The government did listen and did hear the importance of these two issues.

Regrettable that this new program is launched under the cloud of cuts to the BCAC, gaming grants, and provocative language about BC culture from Minister Rich Coleman and others.

The government has far to go to regain the ground it lost by cutting arts so disproportionately from other sectors, and for achieving so little in bottom line savings for the damage it has done. 

They don't seem to realize the toll that looking mean-spirited has done to them politically, especially among swing voters. Remember Vander Zalm and the cartoon of picking the wings off flies. It's all part of the larger picture that has the Liberals looking out of touch with BC's values, and part of why they are polling at historic lows.

And many traditional Liberal major donors are also arts philanthropists. Having built many of our cultural institutions, they are now being called upon to save them out of their own pockets--a strangely indirect taxation. Do the Liberals think these people will be happy to contribute generously to party coffers for the next election in an effort to keep a deeply unpopular government in power? 

The Liberal cuts to arts are costing many of their own major donors far more than any tax increase the NDP would bring in. Has anyone in government really thought this through?

The Liberals do not seem to recognize the political cost of looking like an insensitive bully. While people have not historically voted the arts, they do vote on the intangible elements that make up an overall impression. 

It could be so different. Imagine the political advantage of having the arts community on your side, celebrating your vision. How the arts community has reach and organization in every town, village and hamlet in BC. How it has microphones, stages, and media connections across the province. 

The arts cost so incredibly little, yet have the potential to move the dial politically. 

Don't know why neither the NDP or Liberals have figured out how to leverage this in a positive way.

The government has boxed itself into a difficult position. It probably would like to walk back from some of the unfortunate and damaging communications and policies it has generated, without having to publicly withdraw anything or admit to any mistakes.

We have been on a path toward high conflict and hardening attitudes--a destructive pattern that is divisive and has potential cost to our sector.

This is a good time for the sector to allow the minister some breathing room, while continuing the pressure for independence. 

The relationship matters. This is an olive branch of sorts. Olive branches don't look like white flags of surrender. We are not going to get this government to issue an apology. Power doesn't work that way.

But it might just be possible to find enough common ground to find a way forward that advances the interests of the arts.

Sandy Garossino,
Alliance Board Member and Advocacy Task Force Chair

 

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