Vancouver Symphony a Valued Cultural Institution

Text of Letter sent to the Vancouver Sun regarding VSO's temporary withdrawal:

Re: VSO Pulls Out of Arts Alliance:

Last week’s news about the VSO’s withdrawal from the Alliance for Arts needs fuller elaboration about the role of Art Willms, who serves on both the VSO and BC Lottery Corporation boards.

Mr. Willms’ quiet diplomacy masks a dedicated and tireless servant to the arts and community. No private citizen is more responsible for recent provincial policy changes benefiting the arts than Art Willms. His honour and good faith are above reproach, and we applaud his extraordinary record of public service.

Circumstances have placed the VSO in an exceptional position, and we understand their decision. 

But the situation is urgent.  Provincial government gaming allocations to charities have collapsed below 1995 levels, despite an agreement assuring them a 33% share of net gaming proceeds--which have sky-rocketed.

Although gambling is provincially regulated, in practical terms expansion happens at the municipal level, as gambling licenses are issued by municipalities.  For ten years, industry has sought the support of thousands of BC charities to expand gambling.  That support has been decisive in municipal hearings province-wide, building an industry employing thousands, bringing a revenue stream of billions of dollars to the BC public.

Yet for the charities and non-profits that made it all happen, the result has been catastrophic.

Edgewater cannot become a Las Vegas style mega-casino without Vancouver’s approval.  We renew our call to Vancouver City Council to protect charities first.

Amir Ali Alibhai
Executive Director, Alliance for Arts and Culture

Susan Marsden
President, BC Association for Charitable Gaming

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