Friday, July 17, 2009

Will the BC Liberals really cut arts funding by 40%?

Can anyone tell me what's actually happening, or going to happen, to arts funding under the liberal government? This spring there was news that they would be cutting funding to the BC Arts Council by an astonishing 40%. Immediately following that news was communication from the government saying "not so" - BCAC would continue to be funded as before. But then others responded to that by saying, yes, in 2009 grants would remain in place, but it would be in 2010 they would be slashing arts funding.

This Georgia Straight letter from NDP MLA Spencer Herbert (not to be confused with Spencer, Herbert) makes it sound as if the bad news was the real news. Can anyone clarify for me what's really happening when? And, perhaps, why?

B.C. Liberals alone in Canada with arts cuts

It was with interest that I read Pieta Woolley's recent article [“Film fests dogged by economic slowdown”, July 9-16]. The recession has hurt many arts and culture companies that I have spoken with. Lower donation numbers, smaller returns on endowment funds, and lower ticket sales due to people having less discretionary money to spend have really put the squeeze on nonprofit organizations, performances, and festivals.

Add to this the B.C. Liberals' planned cuts of 50 percent to investment in arts and culture industries and you have a perfect storm that could wipe out many of our smaller arts companies provincewide, along with many jobs. B.C. is the only province in Canada that's cutting investment in arts and culture during this downturn.

In fact, many provinces are increasing support, as the economic arguments are so strong. The B.C. government's own studies show that for every dollar invested in B.C. arts, the government sees $1.36 in return. A recent national Business for the Arts study pegs the return much higher, at 200 percent. A creative knowledge-based economy is the way forward for B.C.

We should be investing in B.C. creatively, not cutting it.

> Spencer Herbert, MLA / Vancouver

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