Thoughts On The Budget

As expected, the budget presented by the provincial government on Tuesday, held to a “stand pat” strategy. 

We were disappointed to see that yet again the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Finance were not followed.  Given the current political and economic climates, however, we have not been surprised. 

A small degree of freedom and flexibility have been provided for the next Premier of British Columbia.

The budget for the arts seems to have remained about the same as last year.  The BC Arts Council (BCAC) seems to have to deal with a very slight decrease in actual dollars ($18K) and the 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy fund is still intact at $20 Million.

We are grateful that these budgets have not been cut since last year, but there is still a huge lack in the BCAC’s ability to meet the needs of the sector it serves or to have a significant impact on its development, without allocating most of the 2010 Legacy Fund monies directly to the BCAC without strings. 

Last year, allocation of almost $8 Million dollars from this fund came very late in the year, causing a scramble and confusion for the arts community.  The ability to plan wisely through these difficult economic times is critical for the arts and cultural community as well as the BCAC.  We urge the new leader of our province to allocate the bulk of the Arts Legacy fund, at least $8 Million, to the BCAC as soon as possible in the new fiscal year.

It has not been possible to verify the status of Gaming grants to the Arts and Cultural sector.  If the numbers are in the Budget, we have not been able to locate them easily and are working on this.  The BC Association for Charitable Gaming (BCACG), however, has announced that here too the overall picture is the same as last year. 

Gaming revenues to charities and non-profits in the province remain at last year’s level, which is well below the justified need, and well below the level agreed to by the BCACG and the province in previous negotiations.  

To date there has been no indication of a reversal of eligibility restrictions on arts and cultural organizations, leaving many of them ineligible for funding.  The annual loss to Metro Vancouver organizations is estimated at $4 Million.  This means jobs and programs. 

We urge our new leader to address these issues regarding Gaming funds as a priority, to ensure that the civil society infrastructure of the province, especially the arts and cultural infrastructure, does not collapse.

 

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