Vancouver Chamber Choir Questionnaire on Arts & Culture and the Provincial Election

The Vancouver Chamber Choir Advocacy Committee submitted a questionnaire to 137 Metro Vancouver candidates in the provincial election from the BC Conservatives, BC Liberals, BC NDP and Green Party of BC. 

Four questions and one optional question were asked, with a deadline of April 30. 

The party headquarters of the BC Liberals, BC NDP and Green Party of BC answered on behalf of their candidates. Eleven from the Green Party of BC and two Conservatives responded individually. Most members of the Green Party repeated their party platform.

Here are the questions and respective responses: 

1. According to Statistics Canada, more than 87,000 BC citizens have their primary employment in the arts and culture sector. This is more than mining and forestry combined. How will your government show leadership in this important sector?

BC Conservatives "Please be advised, a fundamental Conservative principle for funding valuable groups like yours is to establish sustainable funding by growing the economy, improving high income employment opportunities and thus grow the tax base. In this regard both NDP and Liberals are borrowing (and promising) against our future. These promises are not sustainable and inevitably will result in "payday" where the Government debt and associated interest charges will no longer be able to support anything except core Government programmes. A Conservative government is committed to reversing decline of BC's financial flexibility. In the long term this will be in the best interest of  Vancouver Chamber Choir and similar interest groups. (Paul Redekopp, Abbotsford West)." 

BC Liberals "Arts and culture is an incredibly important sector in British Columbia. BC Liberals...launch(ed) BC Creative Futures, a strategy to support sustainable, long-term success for British Columbia's creative sector... and by expanding capacity at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.  A key part of the strategy is a $6.25 million increase in arts and culture funding for this fiscal year, including a $5.25 million boost to the BC Arts Council. This raises the BC Arts Council budget to $24 million, its highest ever from government. Many teachers enrich school communities by investing time and money into extracurricular sports and arts activities. Today's BC Liberals will provide a new tax credit so teachers can claim up to $500 of their own money they put toward these activities. Balanced Budget 2013 has a $60 million investment for arts and culture, $7 million higher than last year, stable funding for arts and culture to families and communities."

BC NDP "understands there is no question that the arts and culture sector is a key economic driver across our province... promises to grow BC's creative economy by 1)  Increasing BC's domestic and foreign production tax credit programs to improve competitiveness with other Canadian provinces and create jobs in BC's film, TV and digital media industries and 2) increasing funding for the BC Arts Council." 

Green Party of BC are committed to: "establishing a separate Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage... increase arts and culture funding and establish new funding objectives to provide multiyear funding to established and traditional Arts & Culture (A&C) groups to encourage their transition to financial independence... expand the BC Arts Council mandate to distribute government funds at arm's length from government, include... the goal of liaising with the sponsorship world by connecting arts and culture programs with corporate benefactors. We will also provide funding to develop affordable rental facilities for local A&C development... encourage the formation of co-operatives within the A&C community to reduce members' operation costs and improve profits."

2.  What value do you ascribe to choral music in British Columbia society?

BC Liberals "Choral music is an amazing part of the arts and culture sector - the vast majority of British Columbians participate in choral music whether in the shower, in a school gymnasium or at a theatre. British Columbians sing recreationally, professionally, and even therapeutically. Choral music allows each of us to express our deepest and most passionate emotions."

BC NDP "The BC NDP is grateful to all BC artists, cultural workers and all the volunteers who bring our province alive through the arts. Arts and culture are essential components of strong and healthy communities and of a compassionate and thriving society. 

Green Party of BC "A strong arts "and culture community in BC will give the province an advantage in attracting people from everywhere and every walk of life to this outstanding province. BC Greens believe that the arts and culture communities are a significant part of our economy." 

BC Conservatives "This is an interesting question, I don't know if I can answer it in terms of BC society. I believe a survey has to be conducted to find out what value residents ascribe to the choral music. In terms of my personal view, I value this form of music." (Satinder Singh, Surrey-Newton)

3.  The 2012-2013 budget keeps BC per capita arts funding dead last in Canada at 25% of the national average, and this support is frozen for three years. If you form the next government will you commit to increasing arts and culture funding up to the national average?

BC NDP will increase funding for the BC Arts Council by $5 million a year starting in 2015. 

Green Party of BC would restore arts and culture funding to 2008-09 levels of $23.8 million. 

BC Liberals will expand funding levels to arts and culture by 13% this year, allocating more than $60 million to artists, arts and culture organizations... and will also increase the BC Arts Council's core funding from $16.8 million last year to a record high level of $24 million.

None responded to the challenge of bringing funding up to the national average.

4. Despite increased revenue from gaming, the BC Government under Premier Campbell drastically reduced the portion to the not-for-profit sector, including arts and culture. The Clark government restored some of this funding. If you form the next government, will you commit to restoring gaming funding to arts and culture to at least the 2008 level?

Only the Green Party of BC committed to this.

BC Liberals promise "Any additional increases will have to be considered in light of the Province's overall fiscal situation. If the global economy improves, today's BC Liberals would be pleased to consider more funding. Our goal is to keep taxes low for families and create a debt-free BC."  

BC NDP "will consult... and will also ensure that non-profits are guaranteed an ongoing source of revenue from gaming and that eligibility rules for funding will be maintained."

Most declined to answer the optional question of direct experience of the Vancouver Chamber Choir. One Green Party of BC candidate had attended concerts and one BC Conservative had heard recordings.

For full-length versions of all survey responses received by April 30, please click here. This survey was an initiative of the Vancouver Chamber Choir Advocacy Committee. 

For questions or comments regarding the survey, please contact:

Colin Miles, Advocacy Committee Chair, 
Vancouver Chamber Choir Board of Directors    
1254 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6H 1B6

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