"I Was Proud to Be a British Columbian": BC Alliance ED Brenda Leadlay Reports Back from Arts Day on the Hill 2018

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Did you know that Arts Day on the Hill is in fact the biggest lobby day on Parliament Hill each year, with over 100 individual meetings with MPs taking place in just one day? This year, more than 95 representatives from the cultural sector across Canada met in Ottawa to represent 13,000 individual artists and 4,000 arts and culture organizations. Our executive director, Brenda Leadlay, was among the crowd, thanking the MPs for doubling the Canada Council budget and talking to them about the needs that challenge our sector.

The primary ask this year, developed by the Canadian Arts Coalition, was a $30M increase to the Canadian Heritage budget for the Canadian Arts Presentation Fund (CAPF), which currently sits at $32M. CAPF provides financial assistance to organizations that present 600 arts festivals or arts series in 250 communities across Canada, giving 20 million Canadians access to professional artistic experiences each year. Over the years, the fund has become oversubscribed and has been eroded by 17% with the costs of managing the program.

Small teams of advocates met with MPs and were given 15 to 30 minutes to gain their support. Brenda advocated alongside the kick-ass team of Howard Jang (Banff Centre), Kathryn Knowles (Canadian League of Composers) and Mirette Shoeir (Professional Association of Canadian Theatres). Together, they conducted successful meetings with MPs Rachel Blaney (North Island—Powell River), Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands) and Mark Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands). Brenda also had the opportunity, alongside other arts advocates, to meet with the staff of The Honourable Pablo Rodríguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, to make the case for CAPF, as well as other identified priorities. 

The day ended with a reception on the Hill for MPs and advocates, and an inspired keynote speech from Kevin Loring, the artistic director of Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre, leaving listeners with a deeper understanding of ways they can contribute to the reconciliation process. 

Brenda left Ottawa hopeful, and with a renewed sense of purpose. "I was proud to be a British Columbian on this day," she says, "and I am even more committed to ensuring that together, we can create our own Arts Day at the Legislature here in BC."

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