In a presentation to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services on June 14, BC Alliance for Arts + Culture executive director Brenda Leadlay asked for clearer, more purposeful adjudication of Community Gaming Grant funding.
“Today, I want to speak to you about BC’s Gaming’s Community Grants Program and the urgent need for clarity about the purpose of this grant program,” Leadlay addressed the Committee. “In a nutshell, there is no statement of purpose, nor has there ever been one.”
Leadlay’s conclusions echo those of Leslie “Skipp” Triplett, who was hired in 2011 by the Government of British Columbia to review the BC Gaming Grant program. His investigation convinced him that “not-for-profit groups fill gaps in government services effectively and provide significantly more value than cost,” and ended with a recommendation for the program to create a formally defined statement of purpose.
Triplett wasn’t the only government official to come to this conclusion; in a 2016 Auditor General report, Carol Bellringer stated that, “Government needs to improve processes to better ensure funding decisions are consistent and well documented. Program staff assess applicants against the program guidelines [,but] better documentation of internal policies is needed. As well, the program guidelines need clarification and updating.”
This lack of purpose has resulted in inconsistency in the administration of Gaming funds, especially due to recent Gaming updates stating that “programs that primarily support artists or artistic development are not eligible.” This is shown in cases like those of the BC Alliance (which lost more than 85% of its Gaming funding in 2018 due to its programs being deemed ineligible) and Playwrights Theatre Centre (which lost 69% of its Gaming funding). This is in stark contrast to other not-for-profits such as sports clubs, who are able to use Gaming money to support activities beneficial to their members.
Leadlay concluded her presentation to the Standing Committee with the following requests:
Continue to increase investment in the BC Arts Council to $48M.
Restore the community gaming grant pool to a minimum of $156M as soon as possible and restore multi-year funding.
Create a statement of purpose for the community gaming grant program.
Consider a new model that is at arm’s length from the Ministry to assess and award grants.
For a full transcript of the BC Alliance’s presentation, click here.