Each fall, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services seeks the public’s input on the next year’s provincial budget through public hearings, written submissions and an online survey.
Alliance executive director Rob Gloor presented to the Committee at a Vancouver public hearing in September, and made the following recommendations with respect to the arts and culture sector and the 2016 provincial budget:
1. Increase the grant budget of BC Arts Council to $32 million.
The BC Arts Council offers the best way to disseminate funding to BC artists and arts organizations, but the agency is not adequately funded to fulfill its mandate or address current and future demand for its programs. An increase to $32 million in 2016 will begin to address existing demand while activating the associated economic and social benefits. A longer-term increase to $40 million will help to make British Columbia more competitive within a national context.
2. Provide opportunities for multi-year grants within major arts funding programs.
Unpredictable arts funding levels threaten the arts sector and obstruct long-term planning. Government can provide greater stability for arts organizations by ensuring that funding programs such as BC Arts Council and Gaming receive stable, predictable investment from which they can fund multi-year operating grants.
3. Invest in a cultural facilities infrastructure program.
Many of BC’s existing cultural facilities are the legacies of previous generations and are now in need of repair and replacement. A provincial program would enable BC’s cultural sector to begin addressing these issues and to access matching federal infrastructure funds.
4. Increase Community Gaming Grants to $156 million.
Community Gaming Grants provide essential funds for many BC non-profits, including arts organizations, for specific community programs not funded by other agencies. Previous cuts to Gaming Grants created turmoil for the arts sector, and these cuts have still not been fully restored in spite of ongoing growth in gaming revenues. We urge the government to restore Gaming Grants to $156 million in 2016 with plans for further increases in subsequent years.
5. Provide robust informational and financial support for the non-profit sector’s transition to the new Societies Act.
The non-profit sector totals over 27,000 registered societies, all of which will be required to make changes to their constitution and bylaws, and follow new laws for their governance under the new Societies Act. Many will need information, workshops, and legal advice to ensure they are compliant with the Act.
The Alliance encourages all members of the arts and culture community to participate in the consultations by:
- Attending and/or presenting at a community public hearing;
- Making a written, audio or video submission to the Committee.
Public hearings have already taken place in a number of communities, and are still to come in the following cities:
Delta (Sept. 28);
Prince George (Sept. 29);
Dawson Creek (Sept. 30);
Terrace (Sept. 30);
Williams Lake (Sept. 30);
Abbotsford (Sept. 30);
Fort St. John (Oct. 7);
Fort Nelson (Oct. 7);
Quesnel (Oct. 7);
Cranbrook (Oct. 7);
Surrey (Oct. 13);
Victoria (Oct. 14).
Submission deadline is midnight Thursday, October 15, 2015.
For further information on the hearings visit www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/finance.