This always happens when I take a vacation. Something big.
The arts community, including many theatre companies here in Vancouver, rely heavily on gaming for funding. What that means is, non-profit organizations (which includes many arts organizations) get grants for operating and projects from revenue that the goverment makes off of lotteries, bingo and the like.
On August 14, the government instituted a freeze on this money, pending a review. This freeze was lifted on August 24, but yesterday, many companies learned that grants that they were relying on for the next year or two have been cut.
You can read more about this story:
A press conference/rally has been called for tomorrow at Spencer Hebert’s office (Spencer is the opposition’s Art critic).
Here’s the information, courtesy of Jessie Van Rijn, who’s the GM at Carousel Theatre, and yesterday’s letter from Spencer:
A press conference will be held Sunday Aug. 30 at Spencer Herbert’s office. He would like as many people there as possible – arts organizations, arts lovers of all kinds, and particularly those who were on multi-year Direct Access agreements. If you are on a multi-year agreement and would like an opportunity to speak at the conference, please come a half hour early. And please pass this information along to everyone you know.
SUNDAY AUG. 30, 12:00 NOON
923 Denman St (btw Barclay and Haro)
Doors open at 11:30 a.m.
28 August 2009
Dear Friends of Arts and Culture,
Today is black Friday for our province’s arts and culture industries.
We are learning today that most arts and culture organizations who did not receive their gaming grant before the BC Liberal’s instituted their unannounced freeze will likely be getting zero dollars this year.
For some groups that can mean they will lose up to $100,000 in funding, and the money will likely not be there for organizations next year either.
Some groups will fold, others will go into massive debt, and others will lay off staff and cancel programs.
Some organizations had been guaranteed 3 years of funding by the government, and were waiting for the second year of funding after spending on the programs the government guaranteed them would be funded – and are now told they won’t receive it, and will have to re-apply.
This has come about because of the government’s budget lie.
They said the deficit would only be $495 million before the election despite top economists, and the Official Opposition’s warnings and now after the election acknowledge it will be much bigger.
One month before the election campaign kicked off I asked the Minister responsible about the province’s commitment to arts and culture and he said ‘there is no reason for the member to suggest that funding that has taken place in the past is somehow or other in jeopardy in this next fiscal year. It is not in jeopardy. This is assured funding during very, very challenging times.’
He also said in response to my first letter to the arts community about the government’s
plans to cut arts funding by 50% ‘The member goes on to say in this letter to the arts and culture community: “After the election, the budget will then decline by about 50 percent.”
That also is just wrong, and the member has no substantiation for saying that.”
The Minister’s statement is now proven to be a lie, and a lie that will cost us all economically, socially, and culturally.
From government reports we learn that BC Gaming’s investment in arts and culture is going from 19.8 million to somewhere in the area of 10.9 million, although none of this will go to people who have applied to gaming as it’s being used for the first time to pay for the BC Arts Council’s usual programs whose funding has been cut.
The government’s direct Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and the Arts budget is set to decline 50% next year, and possibly more depending on what comes out in the budget on Tuesday. on the whole it looks like a nearly 75% cut to arts and culture investment in BC. We’ll know more on Budget day, and I will let you know when I hear anything.
Can you pass this e-mail on to all of your contacts, and let me know what you are receiving from Gaming, and the BC Arts Council? Also please let me know if you are on multi-year funding, and were supposed to be getting your grants, but are now not and what this will do to your organization.
I will continue to stand for a strong creative economy, and support arts and culture organizations province wide.
We know that for every dollar invested by the province the province makes $1.38 back in taxes. That is sound economics.