Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Truth About BC Gaming Grants

by Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA, Vancouver West End

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dear Friends of BC Arts and Culture,

This week we learned that the BC Liberal government has dealt another blow to the arts and culture community.  It was brought to light that the limited gaming funds announced in the March 2010 Budget in fact exclude a large number of the arts and culture festivals and programs for children previously believed to be supported by the gaming branch.

In the March 2010 Budget the BC Liberal government announced its 50% cuts to funding for arts through BC gaming grants, and the arts community was understandably disappointed.  What remained was funding for youth programming, as well as fairs, festivals and museums. 

Arts and culture organizations that work in these areas breathed a sigh of relief that funding for their programs would not be axed, unlike so many other arts and culture initiatives that were denied gaming funding this year.  Festivals and fairs as well as youth focused arts organizations have been planning their season’s programming, and spending much time putting in their applications for gaming funds confident that they were eligible to be considered to receive support from the gaming branch.  

Unfortunately I learned this week from Ministry officials that the BC Liberal government has decided behind closed doors without notification to anyone that the definition of a "community cultural celebration" does not include "fringe festivals, dance festivals, film festivals, writers festivals, and music festivals" which are now largely ineligible to receive support.  I asked what their definition of youth and children's programming was and they told me that unless youth, or children were the performers and the producers of the show then companies that produce shows for young audiences were ineligible.  

It seems that the BC Liberal government believes that they know best what is "worthy" arts and culture in BC and which is not.  This is a perfect example of why peer reviewed funding bodies like the BC Arts Council are important.  They take the politics out of who receives support, and put those decisions in the hands of the community. 

Myself as Critic, Carole James, and the entire Official Opposition continue to speak out and call on the BC Liberal government to repeal its devastating cuts to arts and culture in BC.  Today I stood up in the Legislature to decry this recent blow to BC's arts community - you can click here to watch my questions to Minister Coleman and read the recent Globe and Mail and Georgia Straight articles on these cuts. We encourage you to write to Minister Coleman and Minister Krueger to protest this unfair and arbitrary decision.

As the summer approaches and I return from Victoria when the Legislature closes in early June - I look foward to working and meeting with artists, arts and culture organizations, and your supporters.   I welcome your emails and phone calls with feedback, suggestions and ways that we can work together to restore much needed funding and support for arts and culture in BC.

Spencer Chandra Herbert
Official Opposition Critic for Tourism, Culture and the Arts
MLA - Vancouver West End

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