Why Culture Matters in British Columbia

In communities large and small throughout BC, more people are engaging in arts, cultural and heritage activities than ever before. Why? Because at the very core of our existence is the need for individual freedom and creative expression. 

The arts encompass more than the symphony, gallery and theatre; they also include the video games that we play, the movies that we watch, the magazines that we read, the architecture that we inhabit, the music that we enjoy, the designs that we wear, the food that we eat — the list goes on. We experience creativity every day but the the important role it plays in our lives isn’t always recognized. We are all creative by nature and all that we do is an expression of our identity. Arts, culture and heritage are some of the most enduring representations of what makes us human.

Acknowledge and Support the Value of Culture

We propose that all governments and public funders acknowledge and support the value of culture in British Columbia by:

  • Promoting cultural value: publicizing and advertising the impacts of engaging with the arts;

  • Publicly advocating for the benefits of cultural investment;

  • Expanding the mandate of organizations like the BC Arts Council to promote the benefits and impacts of culture;

  • Investing in cultural sector human resources to fuel talent, efficiency and consumer activity;

  • Researching and publishing meaningful statistics and findings on the impacts of culture in our province.

There is growing support globally that cultural value, or engagement with the arts, is embedded in the individual experience and in our capacity to be economically innovative and creative.

Provincial investment in a vibrant cultural sector is important to the social and economic prosperity of our province. It fosters a desirable environment for business development and community growth and fosters a strong sense of belonging and wellbeing in its citizenship, enhancing the quality of life for all British Columbians.  

The arts, culture, heritage and creative sector is an essential component of British Columbia’s competitive creative economy. 

With a combined workforce of over 98,244 cultural workers and a cultural GDP of $7.2 billion, BC’s cultural sector reaches into every corner of the province and has a substantial impact on hundreds of thousands of citizens each year. British Columbia has more artists per capita than any other province and the third-highest cultural GDP in Canada.

An investment in the cultural sector is an investment in the potential of human creativity.

The Case for Support

In early 2018, BC’s NDP Government increased its investment to the BC Arts Council by $5-million for the next three years. Our goal now is to convince the provincial government to keep its original promise and double the budget of the BC Arts Council as well as to ensure that any increased investment to the arts is wisely spent.


1. An increased investment in arts and cultural activities in rural BC. There are more practising artists working in BC than ever before, but they do not have the resources they need to contribute to their communities.

2. An increase to the level of core operating grants. Core operating support is essential to leverage funding from other sources, create jobs, and contribute to the creative economy through sustainability. Increased investment would result in more creative activity and much-needed capacity building for organizational stability across BC. It would also enable existing organizations to support more individual artists in their communities via collaborations and partnerships.

3. An investment in Indigenous and equity-seeking artists. Dedicated funding at the BC Arts Council is essential to ensure its ability to work with an equity lens, to support opportunities for collaboration between diverse disciplines and cultures.

4. Increased funding for artistic research and development to enable innovation and growth in the cultural sector. There is also a need to invest in data collection to measure the significant social and economic impact of arts and culture in BC communities.

5. Increased investment in regional, national and international touring of BC artists to build the profile of British Columbia and generate significant economic activity for arts organizations and governments.















1. Supports creative activity in all regions of the province by investing in the creative economy.

2. Recognizes the value of arts and culture by acknowledging their important contributions to society. According to a report issued by UNESCO, the arts improve the quality of life and contribute to a healthy, vibrant community.  

3. Increases the stability of the cultural sector to improve the health of the whole ecosystem. An increased investment helps the arts build ties with other sectors – business, healthcare, education, housing and immigration –  and increase the economic and social cohesion of communities.

4. Plays an important role in the reconciliation and healing process with Indigenous communities, where art has saved lives.  

5. Supports underserved equity-seeking communities in BC, where there is an urgent need for increased investment in cultural diversity and inclusion to represent the multilingual population of BC.

6. Enables artistic research, development and innovation to allow for more collaboration between diverse disciplines and cultures, which will generate more cross-disciplinary work and social innovation in the arts, culture and heritage sector. 

7. Addresses the gap between professional and non-professional artists and provides funding for small, volunteer-run arts organizations in remote areas of the province.

8. Enables BC companies to leverage matching funds from the federal government.

9. Enables more regional, national and international touring of BC artists, which will develop cultural networks and facilitate international collaborations.  

10. Supports more research and innovation hubs for arts, culture and heritage to incubate new ideas and strengthen the creative economy.

11. Leads to more risk-taking and innovation, enabling the arts to become more accessible and relevant to a younger generation.


1. An investment in the arts is an investment in the potential of human creativity. Art isn’t just for art's sake — creativity intersects every aspect of our lives, improving mental health and making us better citizens.

2. Investing in the cultural sector builds healthier communities, fostering less racism, better integration of diversity, social inclusion and a sense of belonging. The arts help us see the world differently. They nurture entrepreneurship and promote democracy.

3. The arts are an important tool for reconciliation with Indigenous communities in BC via knowledge sharing.

4. The cultural sector fosters volunteerism, which is essential to our wellbeing and an important part of civil society.

5. An increased investment in the cultural sector makes the arts accessible to everyone.

6. Increased investment in the sector increases cultural tourism and strengthens the creative economy.

7. BC will become a leader in arts education and arts innovation. There will be more arts focused on social innovation – youth at risk, seniors with dementia, issues of poverty and addiction. There will be more sharing of best practices across the social profit sector.

8. BC will be forward-looking by investing in the creative economy knowing that the demand for intellectual workers will grow as jobs decrease in the labour force via technology. Artists are stewarding an environment that young people want to inherit.

9. A robust cultural sector also raises BC’s profile on the national and international stage.

In Conclusion...

An increase of $5 million to the BC Arts Council budget from $24 million to $29 million over the 2017-2021 term is the direct result of strong collective advocacy by the BC Alliance and the province's art, culture and heritage sector. This is a great opportunity for BC artists. But now, more than ever, arts, culture and heritage organizations around the province need to work together to ensure that our voices are united in ongoing advocacy efforts. We have the opportunity to change the way our sector is valued. Until the majority of British Columbians understand the important social and economic impact that creativity and the cultural sector has on their communities, there is much to be done. And we must do it together.