Friday, December 2, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Excellent article on the Conservative party's complete absence during the election campaign whenever an arts and culture debate presented.
OTTAWA — Liberal, NDP and Green Party representatives were there. Even Communist and Marijuana candidates made it to Ottawa’s Cube Gallery last week for an all-party debate on arts policy. But there was no Conservative representation — and should we be surprised?
A couple of nights later, the Canadian Conference of The Arts, the country’s leading cultural service organization, organized another such gathering in the national capital — and again, the Tories did not attend.
Meanwhile, in Montreal, more than 70 arts organizations from across the country unveiled a major election manifesto calling for a renewed commitment by all political stripes to support the arts. Arts leaders also requested meetings with party representatives to discuss the document. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was quick to oblige, as were NDP and Bloc Quebecois candidates. Again, there was no response from the Conservatives.
There’s a pattern here, and it runs across the country…
Monday, January 31, 2011
Friday, September 10, 2010
Not only is publishing and the arts in general an economic engine in this province, but they also contribute, just as importantly, to the health and welfare of our communities. In the literary arts sector, our authors tell the stories that define who we are as British Columbians whether urban or rural residents, young or old, aboriginal, scholar, worker, child. Our books reflect the lives of our ranchers, wine makers, stockbrokers, fishers, foresters or art critics; as well, they contribute to Canadian literature and scholarship.
Yet, the institutions that make it possible to ensure our books are read in schools or on ferries, by tourists or residents, are still threatened despite the return of $7M to the BCAC budget. For example, BC BookWorld, a magazine that reviews books and includes articles on our many, many writers and publishers, and which reaches all communities in the province, had its funding cut by 100%. The Magazine Association of BC that works on behalf of literary and commercial magazines was cut by 83.5%, and this association, the ABPBC, that ensures the health of the book industry by offering programs that evaluate books for educational use, that coordinates literary programs such as Poetry in Transit in every community in the province with a bus, and that is working to make our non-fiction written heritage available in digital form in libraries throughout the province, has been cut by 91%. A business person yourself, you can appreciate that cuts of over 20% of operating budgets, is unsustainable. As project clients of the BCAC none of these organizations will benefit from the return of $7M in funding to the BCAC, pointing out the continued need to restore the BCAC budget to its previous level, to include the funding from the defunct Arts and Culture section that originally served these clients, and to ensure stable funding for not just ourselves but all artists, arts organizations and cultural industries.
Friday, August 20, 2010
The Right Honourable Gordon Campbell Premier Government of British Columbia P.O. Box 9041 Stn Prov Govt. Victoria BC V8W 9E1
By mail and email August 20th, 2010 Dear Premier Campbell,
Re: Cuts to the BC arts sector
I am writing again to you today on behalf of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA) to express our deep concerns about the devastating cuts of provincial support to the arts and culture communities of British Columbia, as well as about the resignation of the widely respected BC Arts Council Chair, Ms. Jane Danzo.
As the largest and oldest Canada-wide organization in the arts, culture and heritage sector, the CCA does not often intervene in issues of provincial concern. Founded 65 years ago, the CCA’s mission is to be the national forum for the sector and to document and promote the development and implementation of cultural policies at the federal level. Our goal is to encourage and foster the health and growth of this important sector within Canada and to enhance the cultural life of Canadians.
However, we cannot remain silent when we hear how your government abandons its support to arts and culture organizations in British Columbia, many of which are members of ours. Past investments by BC governments, while for decades amongst the lowest per capita in Canada, have yielded remarkable results. Your province ranks amongst the first in Canada for the number and the quality of its artists and creators, notably in the visual arts, who have gained your province and the country an international reputation.
Last year’s success of the BC Scene event at the National Arts Centre was a clear illustration of the incredible talent and creative power of your province’s artistic community. And if further proof were required, all three levels of government recognized the importance of arts and culture by investing considerable sums of money to showcase Canadian and British Columbian talent at the Cultural Olympiad during the very successful Winter Olympics, thus confirming the contribution the arts make to Canada’s image abroad.
It bears repeating once again that the arts and culture sector is at the vanguard of the shift to a post-industrial economy which must be strategically guided by Canada’s various levels of government. According to documents produced by your own Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, BC’s arts and culture sector employs close to 80 000 people and contributes over $5 billion to the provincial economy. BC has the largest percentage of its labour force in arts occupations and, as such, ranks first amongst the ten provinces. The arts are a growth sector in most Canadian cities and Vancouver boasts the third largest concentration of professional artists in Canada.
Moreover, British Columbia’s population represents much of the cultural diversity that increasingly characterizes Canadian society. As such, investing in the arts and culture sector should be a strong component of your government’s strategy to tap this inexhaustible natural resource to advance creativity, boost the economy, lead to greater social cohesion and contribute to our identity as a nation.
In this context, we are appalled to hear the extremely severe financial cuts that BC arts organizations are being hit with further to your government’s decisions, both through cuts to the budget of the BCAC and through the elimination of support from gaming grants. This is made particularly dramatic given the fact that like the rest of the arts and culture sector across the country, those organizations still have to feel the full impact of the recent recession. We are equally concerned that major policy shifts, made without consultation with the BC Arts Council, have set irresponsible and indefensible precedents.
On that front, we want to reassert the importance of the arm’s length relationship which must exist between governments, politicians and cultural granting agencies. Arts and politics do not mix well: this is why so many countries, including Canada and most provinces, have established independent Arts Councils and rely on peer jury systems as the best possible way of granting money to artists and cultural organizations. This is a characteristic of healthy democracies and remains the best way to encourage innovation and creativity in a nation. Like our colleagues in BC, we applaud Ms. Danzo’s courageous decision to resign in protest of both the drastic cuts imposed by your government and the fact that BCAC does not possess the independence normally given to such granting agencies.
For all those reasons, we find it ill-advised that provincial investments in the arts and culture sector be drastically and unfairly cut to help balance the books. With all due respect, we submit that this is a strategic error that will have negative impacts not only on tourism and economic development but also severely compromise the role your province plays in defining Canadian identity at home and abroad.
The Canadian Conference of the Arts therefore urges you and your government to think of the long-term interests of British Columbians and to reverse the current policy regarding the arts, which can only be described as short-view and contrary to the interests not only of British Columbians but of all Canadians. We also submit that the BC Arts Council should be restructured on the model of other Arts Councils in Canada and in other countries and enjoy the independence which is necessary to a thriving arts community.
Yours truly, Kathleen Sharpe President
CC The Hon. Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts The Hon. Colin Hansen, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier
Monday, August 2, 2010
We are the land of Glenn Gould and Nickelback, Jon Vickers and kd lang, Margaret Atwood and Doug Coupland, Luminato and The Fringe — and every kind of art in between.
Where does the government imagine these artists come from? Do they wander in off the street, fully-prepared to perform? Of course not. They are trained, educated, given apprenticeships and innumerable opportunities to perform. They are given forums like festivals and films and much more, and they are given the means to make art.
Some philistines argue that the arts should pay their own way. This is aberrant nonsense. Canadian art is more than arenas full of visiting American rockers. Canadian art is who we are as a people.
Money is NOT the measure of merit. It is a means of supporting merit.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
A few months ago, Ned Franks, a retired political science professor and constitutional expert, spoke in the wake of the proroguing of Parliament (yet again). He gave compelling statistical evidence that the rapid turnover of MPs and senior ministry staff in recent years has left Parliament weak and dysfunctional. Parliament sits less now, and when things don't go the way the PM likes it, he just shuts it down. A power vacuum has been created, and the PMO is rapidly filling it."We should call him King Stephen the First of Canada," says Franks, "for that, in effect, is the way he is behaving."A less proud country
Kevin Krueger, BC’s Minister of Tourism, Culture, and the Arts, recently announced that this $10M (curiously similar to the amount missing from the BC Arts Council operating budget) will be allocated to 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy Fund and the creation of “Spirit Festivals.” There are still no details regarding these festivals. Minister Krueger says “[The Spirit Festivals] are intended to build on the phenomenal success of the Cultural Olympiad.” (Read the coverage here or here.)
You know what would be a perfect way to build on the success of the Cultural Olympiad? Not cutting core funding to the professional arts organizations that actually made it happen. Call me crazy.