An Open Letter to Gordon Campbell from Alma Lee

Founder, Vancouver Writers & Readers Festival

Dear Premier Campbell,

What are you thinking?

You are a cultured man who is an avid reader and supporter of cultural events. What happened to your vision of BC becoming the most literate province in the country?

What sort of Philistines are working with you in cabinet? Obviously they have no idea of what arts and culture bring to our lives and to the economy of this province. Stating that the government is going to focus on poverty doesn’t cut it – many artists live on or below the poverty line.

In the rest of the world Canada and BC are renowned for sending some of the most innovative and talented artists to perform in many high profile venues. There is a long list of British Columbian artists who are highly regarded abroad – that list could fill a page here.

The point is that many of these people got their start by being supported by government funding. You and your government should be proud of that, but instead you are denigrating the work of these artists, and in the process doing nothing for the economy with this short sighted and devastating slashing of arts funding.

You, Premier Campbell, appointed me to sit on the BC Arts Council. I was honoured to receive that appointment and I and my colleagues worked very hard to increase the core funding to the Council. All that was gained in the end was an endowment that today is realizing less than two percent, and it seems as though even that may be going on the block.

Now I feel that six years of my life and my own creative energy were wasted.

I am proud of my accomplishment in founding the Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival. This is an event that you, yourself, have supported over the years. I believe I created a high quality event for the cultural life of this city and we all know it has gained an international reputation.

Please, I beg of you, stop this budget slashing before it’s too late.

Alma Lee, CM, D.Litt (Hon)

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