The province's Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released its report on its Budget 2017 consultations on November 16, which includes recommendations pertaining to the arts and culture sector.
During the Committee's consultation period in September 2016, BC Alliance for Arts + Culture executive director Brenda Leadlay presented the Alliance's recommendations for the 2017 budget on behalf of the province's arts, culture and heritage sector. Those recommendations included the doubling of investment in the BC Arts Council, an increase in funding to arts education, investment in a cultural facilities infrastructure program, and restoration of community gaming grants to 2008 levels.
Her presentation emphasized the importance of general accessibility to the arts: as a gateway to robust mental health and wellbeing, as a marker of culture and identity, and for the vibrancy of our communities. It also underscored the necessity of bringing BC provincial arts funding up to par with funding received by other provinces.
The Committee's budget recommendations to the provincial government, as outlined in its report, are to:
- Increase provincial per capita funding to support the growing number of artists in BC and the vibrant creative economy, and provide increased, stable, multi-year funding for arts, culture and heritage organizations to promote, educate and support BC’s arts community;
- Ensure local communities can access provincial and federal funding to celebrate and promote Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation celebrations in 2017;
- Restore gaming grants to 2008 levels ($156 million from the current $134 million) and provide incremental increases as gaming revenues increase.
In addition, the Committee recommends that the provincial government provide inflation-adjusted funding increases to public libraries to enable them to sustain basic levels of service and consider additional increases to implement new innovations in service delivery.
The Committee's full report and recommendations to the provincial government can be found here. References to arts funding and support begin on page 44.
The Alliance is encouraged by the reference to our recommendations on behalf of the province's arts, culture, and heritage sector in the Committee's report. We urge members of the community to email the Finance Minister, the Honourable Michael de Jong here to ask that the recommendations of the Committee and, further, those outlined in our executive director's presentation be included in the next budget in February. You can also copy the finance critic Carole James here and the Alliance's executive director Brenda Leadlay here.
We also urge community members to join the Alliance on Tuesday, December 6 for an important meeting to discuss the funding and policy priorities for our sector and to plan a provincial arts advocacy strategy in the lead-up to the election in 2017. Click here for more information and to RSVP.