As I write my last blog of 2010 I am in a reflective mood.
It has been a challenging and sometimes difficult year for many of our members as many have struggled with cuts to their operating budgets, especially those that relied on Gaming Grants as part of their core funding. The Alliance, too, has struggled with this situation, but, like our members, we have found ways to survive and even thrive.
The new Alliance website and social media tools have proven to be very effective in the past year. Our web-traffic has increased 600 percent as more and more members of the arts community and the general public find valuable information and resources on-line.
We plan to build on this success, particularly in promoting the work of our membership.
2010 offered some victories and high points as well. Most of the Legacy Funds ($7 million of $10 million) was allocated to supplement the BC Arts Council’s cut budget; $1.5 million is making its way to festivals and celebrations across the province through the Assembly of BC Arts Councils; a further $750,000 is being allocated to the BC Arts Council for professional and community festivals in 2011.
The allocations to the BCAC, at least, reflect the wishes of most of the arts and cultural community that we represent. These small victories are encouraging and point to the fact that we are an alliance of many different voices and together, we have been heard.
There are still many uncertainties as we move into next year, and it is clear that we need to continue to make noise and turn up the volume to take advantage of the profound changes that are to come. Our campaign to advocate for the restoration of Gaming grants to Arts and Culture is at the top of our current work. This will continue into the New Year.
Our coalition of arts service organizations have embarked on a province-wide campaign to meet with all the elected MLAs in BC to bring the arts and culture issues to their attention. The large arts organizations in Vancouver have combined resources with the Alliance to make this possible. This is timely strategy, as new political leaders are chosen and we are likely to face a provincial election soon.
It is important to build on Liberal leadership contender George Abbott’s initiative in making the arts and culture part of his leadership bid campaign. We need to encourage other contenders, from all political parties, to make similar commitments to the arts and culture. Our collective aim is to make arts, culture and heritage part of the election platforms put forward in the coming year.
This would be a first in BC and a significant collective achievement.
A position paper, sent to all the leadership contenders, is available here. A unified voice will be more effective than working at cross-purposes.
On behalf of the Alliance for Arts and Culture Board and Staff I would like to wish all of you a peaceful and joyful holiday season and a prosperous and creative 2011.
Remember, together we can make a difference.
Amir Ali Alibhai
Alliance for Arts and Culture