Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chronology of cuts to creative arts in Canada to September 15, 2009

This blog entry will be edited and updated as a list of cuts to the creative arts in Canada is compiled from various sources over the next few weeks. If you are reading this and see a factual error, please send me an email with a correction. Thanks.

September 8, 2009. Vancouver BC. A blogger who goes by the name "Jer" publishes a trenchant graphic analysis of the BC budget that reveals the devastating extent of the cuts to arts and culture in BC. See the article here, and the clearest of the charts here.

September 3, 2009. BC Minister of Housing and Social Development looks at multi-year contracts to fund various arts organisations and decides they must honour the commitments. SOURCE: Vancouver Sun

September 2, 2009. BC Arts Council reveals on its web site that their annual budget will be supported by funds from Gaming rather than direct government appropriation, as in the past. This explains why so many artists and arts organisations that applied for sustained funding through the Gaming Branch were denied: the money has gone to BC Arts Council. On their web site, BC Arts Council states:

Last month, the Province elected to use gaming revenues to provide support to Council programs. As a result, the 2009/10 Budget Estimates tabled yesterday do not include an appropriation from general revenues. With resources from Gaming, Council will operate as usual through the 2009/10 fiscal year with a budget of approximately $11M. All of Council's decisions on grants will be based on the independent peer review process with the funds paid via the Community Gaming Grants program.

Council does recognize that due to the loss of Direct Access support from Gaming, many artists and arts organizations face difficult decisions. Council will continue to consult with the arts community, staff and the Province to explore all avenues to augment the grants budget.

August 2009 - BC . Ministry of Housing and Social Development announced that the freeze on community gaming grants had been lifted, and set out a list of ten "priorities for the remainder of the 2009/10 grants." Arts funding appeared in sixth place on this list. At the same time, applicants to the Direct Access program began to receive letters advising them that their applications had been denied - whether the applications had been for annual funding, or for a second installment of committed three year funding. SOURCE: Orchestras Canada.

July 31, 2009 - Heritage Minister Michael Moore axes the only two Specialized Music Recordings programs. See full article.

July 2009 - BC. Applicants for Direct Access Grants became concerned earlier this summer when the usual dates for grant notification passed with no communication from the relevant Ministry. Media sources then learned that the Province had frozen the funds and that staff was performing a review of both the annual and multi-year Direct Access funding programs, with results to be known before the Province's next budget, anticipated for early September. SOURCE: Orchestras Canada. Analysis by NDP MP Spencer Herbert (Vancouver Centre) reveals that cuts to government support for the arts in BC will amount 92%. SOURCE: Vancouver Sun newspaper.

February 2009. BC government announced its intention to reduce arts and culture spending by 45% in 2009-10. Supplemental budget estimates released February 18 indicated that one-time funding, totaling $15 million, would be directed to arts, culture and heritage for 2009-10, more than compensating for the cut called for in the budget. At the same time, though, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and the Arts released its three-year Service Plan, which clearly indicated that spending on arts and culture from the province’s “core” budget would be projected to decline from just over $19.5 million in 2008-09 to just under $9.9 million in 2011-12. One day later, then-Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Bill Bennett and BC Arts Council Chair Donald Shumka wrote a joint letter to the BC arts community, confirming that “there has been no funding reduction to arts and culture in the 2009-10 budget [and that] in fact slightly more money will actually be going to arts and culture in the coming fiscal year.” However, the letter was silent on the province’s longer-term intentions. SOURCE: Orchestras Canada

August 8, 2008 - Feds cut PromArt program that allowed Canadian performing and creative artists to present their work worldwide, as well as the $9-million Trade Routes program, which helps cultural groups prepare to export and sell in international markets. Most developed nations understand the value of such public investment to stimulate the economy and increase the nation's international reputation and influence. See these links:

March 27, 2008 - CBC axes the 70 year old CBC Radio Orchestra, North America’s last remaining radio orchestra and platform for countless premieres of new Canadian compositions.

February 2008, elimination of the classical music budget for CBC Records, precisely on the eve of their first Grammy win by Canadian violinist James Ehnes and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under Bramwell Tovey on the CBC Records label.

December 2006 - CBC discontinues the show dedicated to new music called Two New Hours. [Editor's note: a program called The Signal replaced the show. It had a different approach to programming new concert music, placing it in the mix with other genres and in several locations during its every-day evening schedule, with particular emphasis on new concert music during the time slot of the old Two New Hours.]

2003 - CBC suspends The CBC Young Composers’ Competition and the CBC Young Performers’ Competition for These two important domestic competitions had been instrumental in the development of some of Canada’s best musical talent including: Angela Hewitt, Ben Heppner, Jon Kimura Parker. The Canada Council provided half of the funding for the $10,000.00 grand prizes.

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