Gaming Grants & Arts Council Update

Two announcements from the Provincial government received yesterday gave some hope for organizations awaiting their gaming commission grants, but have raised more questions than they answered.

A joint announcement from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts and the Ministry of Housing and Social Development, on the letterhead of the British Columbia Arts Council, announced that the BC Arts Council will distribute $5.1 million in grants, following the recent budget review. The release also stated that there will 338 individual artists and groups sharing these funds, and that specific details will only be available once grant recipients have received notification.

The second release, from the Ministry of Housing and Social Development, reiterated last week's announcement that the freeze on community gaming grants hasbeen lifted, and set out a list of ten "priorities for the remainder of the 2009/10 grants." Arts funding appeared at number six on this list, as the less-than-reassuring "A limited number of arts and culture activities."

Also of great concern was a sentence that read: "Some projects, such as capital project grants, playground grants and three-year grants, will not be eligible for funding this year."

When the Alliance contacted a Ministry spokesperson earlier today, he agreed that the line was ambiguous, but was unable to clarify whether this meant that no new applications for three-year grants would be accepted, or if it actually meant that current three-year funding commitments were being canceled.

The spokesperson indicated that he was seeking further clarification from Ministry officials, and promised to get back to us as soon as he had more information.

Some may conclude from the joint release from the two Ministries that the announced $10.9 million for the Arts Council budget from the Community Gaming Grants program is "new money", whereas our best analysis leads us to conclude that this simply reflects the regular annual transfer of funds, and is substantially less than in previous years.

The Alliance is in touch with officials of both Ministries seeking answers to these questions, and we will keep you advised.

In the meantime, please let us know immediately if you receive a cheque, or letter confirming the status of your grant application.

The more current our information the more effectively we can advocate on your behalf.

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