“It’s really not clear as to what’s going on yet—the government is in absolute chaos over this issue,” said Watson. “People say the Arts Council might get an arts cut of as much as 80 per cent. That’s a catastrophic cut…you’re talking about eliminating programs and institutions and support.”
The effects have already begun. The proposed closures of the Massey Theatre, the recent cancelation of the Lantern Festival and the Parade of Lost Souls and numerous other performance cancelations and museum closures have already happened in the last six weeks.
But what has surprised members of the artistic community most isn’t the apathy on the part of the Liberal government, but rather the complete elimination of funding from the BC Gaming Commission—an organization that funds not only arts endeavours, but sports and social groups.
“The gaming money that used to be available to cultural organizations and amateur sports is simply no longer available to them,” explained Watson, “the whole fabric of what communities do to nourish their creative and physical selves is being liquidated.”