The NDP rolled out their provincial campaign platform this weekend, and the Alliance responded:
Reaction to arts pledge cautious By Mary Frances Hill, The Vancouver Sun April 11, 2009 An arts and culture lobby group is taking a cautious approach to the New Democratic Party's campaign promise to restore funding to cultural programs across the province and create a capital plan for the B.C. Arts Council. In Take Back Your B.C., the NDP's 46-page campaign platform, the party devotes half a page to pledges to aid arts, culture and tourism. Leader Carole James promised to restore the provincial government's arts funding cuts for this year, increase the B.C. Arts Council's budget, and award the council -- a government agency -- a $50-million capital fund to invest in cultural projects. Alliance for Arts and Culture executive director Amir Ali Alibhai said he was pleased to see a mention of arts and culture in any election platform. "The arts are part of stimulating growth and recovery," he said. But he was wary of campaign promises. "I'm cautious because of the track record of the NDP," Alibhai said. "The last time they were in, there was a 25-per-cent cut in the B.C. Arts Council's [budget]." That was during the recession of the early 1990s. The Alliance advocates for the interests of about 350 arts and cultural groups in B.C., such as theatres and dance companies, and individual artists. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts' 2009-2012 service plan shows the projected base funding for arts and culture programs dropping from $19.5 million in 2008-09 to $11.9 million in 2009-10 and $9.6 million in 2010-11. Alibhai said history has seen governments consider arts and culture spending as a frill. Spencer Herbert, NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End, said arts funding acts as an economic stimulus, generating about $1.36 in taxes for every dollar spent, "just from the multiplying effect of keeping the dollars in the economy locally."