It has been a very busy year so far for our Alliance and in case you’ve missed anything, or want to know what we are up to, you may find this update useful. We have seen the appointment of a new Premier of our province, a Federal election called, and some changes and a review of gaming funds underway. We can also look forward to an HST referendum, a Municipal election and possibly a provincial election. We also have a by-election in which our Premier is running for a seat. These all present opportunities and challenges to make sure that our collective voices are heard clearly.
First of all, we were proud to be a part of the Vancouver Not Vegas coalition, whose work, led by Sandy Garossino and Lindsay Brown, resulted in an unanimous decision by Vancouver City Council to prevent the major expansion of Edgewater Casino in our downtown. This initiative and the public discussion that has begun will inform the anticipated review of public Gaming, especially the revenues that are generated and distributed to charities. While we welcome this review, the situation for the arts and cultural groups remains dire and largely neglected. Especially as multi-year agreements have come to an end, many arts organizations are finding themselves ineligible to apply under the “new eligibility criteria” introduced by Rich Coleman in 2009. We have urged our new Premier and Minister to address this issue immediately, before a lengthy review process is completed. The $15 Million that was “restored” recently has not satisfied or addressed the pressing need in the arts and culture community, including many of our members.
It is also important to use the opportunity of the May 11th by-election, in which Premier Clark is running to remind her of promises made to the arts and culture during her leadership campaign. She has made good on the $15 Million to Gaming and we expect an announcement regarding a review. Restoration of funding cuts made to the BCAC, however, were also part of her promises and we urge our members and supporters to write letters to remind her of this. We support the allocation of at least 80%of the Arts Legacy fund ($10 Million) to the BCAC, and emphasize that this decision be made as soon as possible to avoid the confusion and backtracking that the BCAC had to endure last year. We also need to address the per capita level of arts and cultural spending in this province, which is the lowest in the country. We all want healthy, flourishing, and livable communities and the arts and culture have a large role in this. We also want her to know that those of us who work in arts and culture represent families and jobs that contribute significantly to our communities and which, in turn, serve families and support jobs in other sectors. Our new premier has an opportunity to distinguish her new government from that of Gordon Campbell and has much to gain from supporting civil society, especially the arts and culture. You can send letters to Christy@ChristyClark.ca
The Federal election is days away and we have worked with the Canadian Conference for the Arts to ensure a coordinated effort through a Common Arts Election Platform. Please vote!
For a summary of responses from the federal political parties to our questions regarding Arts and Culture, please vist the CCA's website.
Our strength as an Alliance is based on our membership and in being able to work together to achieve our collective goals. I invite you all to Arts Summit 2011, being held in partnership with SFU Woodward’s at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts on June 10 and 11th. This is a great opportunity to strengthen our networks and strategize together.
Amir Ali Alibhai
Alliance for Arts and Culture