The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Alliance makes sense of yesterday’s budget March 3, 2010

Filed under: Finances,Politics of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:32 pm
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Overall, I heard so many people yesterday saying “what does this mean??” There’s this $10 Million dollars, but where does it come from? Who gets it? And how does the budget compare to last years’?

I just got this email press release from The Alliance for Arts and Culture, which helps to make sense of all the numbers.

Reality Check: Arts Funding Cut By BC Budget

Arts funding was not restored to 2008/2009 levels in yesterday’s budget, despite a unanimous recommendation by the government’s Standing Committee on Finance”, according to Alliance for Arts and Culture executive director Amir Ali Alibhai.

“In fact what we have seen are further cuts to core funding” said Mr. Alibhai, “for a total loss of 32.4 per cent from funding levels in 2008/09.

Here are the basic facts from the March 2 budget:

FACT: The BC Arts Council has been cut 53 per cent from 2008/09.This is funding used to provide core support for the creation of cultural experiences like those that thrilled audiences here and world-wide during the 2010 Olympics.

FACT: BC Gaming Commission contributions to the arts have been cut 58 per cent from 2008/09.This is funding used to make possible community access to the arts and culture through free public festivals and events.

FACT: A $10 million annual supplementary fund has been created, but we do not know how the funds will be administered or distributed.

FACT: Interest from the $150 million BC Arts and Culture Endowment remains the same.

FACT: The new budget includes $12 million for the BC Royal Museum. This support has remained the same for several years and is essentailly a transfer to a crown corporation; this has not traditionally been counted as part of the investment made through grants to the arts and cultural sector.

FACT: Total government investment in culture, including the newly announced $10 million annual supplementary fund, has been reduced by 32.4 per cent from the 2008/09 budget.

These numbers do not include cuts from other government sources to creative sector disciplines such as publishing, Music BC and others.

The following charts, Chart 1 from the government and Chart 2 from the Alliance, demonstrate the reality. You can see that the government numbers have been inflated by the addition of the $12 million for the Royal BC Museum.

“To win its bid for the 2010 Olympics, the BC government boasted about the British Columbia’s vibrant arts and culture scene, claiming that culture was the ‘second pillar’ of the Games. “We were hoping the government would continue to consider culture an important pillar of our society,” continued Mr. Alibhai.

“We look forward to working with the government in ensuring that the $10 million annual supplementary fund they have created is used to best effect,” Mr. Alibhai concluded. “And we shall continue to press for full restoration of arts funding to the levels the Finance Committee agreed were necessary.”

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Reaction to the BC Budget March 2, 2010

Filed under: Finances — Rebecca Coleman @ 3:50 pm
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Well, it’s not great news. There’s this: “$10 million to arts and culture groups this year through a new 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy fund.” But what does it mean?? Bottom line: the government did not restore the funding they cut in late August last year.

Here is an email press release I just received from The Alliance For Arts and Culture:

Arts Community Leaders Disappointed by Budget

“Premier Ignored MLAs and His Own Finance Committee”

VICTORIA: Emerging from today’s budget lockup at the BC Legislature, Alliance for Arts and Culture executive director Amir Ali Alibhai, Victoria Symphony executive director Mitchell Krieger, and ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria coordinator Scott Walker expressed disappointment at the budget’s half-hearted support for the arts in British Columbia.

“Premier Gordon Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen seem to have largely disregarded the recommendations of their own Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services and continue to ignore the importance of the creative sector ” said Mr. Alibhai.

“The Cultural Olympiad was a significant achievement for Canadian artists” Mr. Krieger added. “With this budget, however, it appears that what we have recently experienced was only a moment in time, as support for the arts continues to fall to record levels.”

“Our athletes’ achievements at the Olympics – and the phenomenal success of the Cultural Olympiad – have been a brilliant demonstration of what investing in talent does – for the individuals involved and for Canadian national pride. What an incredible return on investment” said Mr. Walker.

“The stunning spectacle of people convening in the city streets night after night – it was the musicians, artists, and street performers who made that experience work” noted Mr. Alibhai. “Art was the glue that held the Olympic experience in place for locals and visitors alike. From the major stages of the theatres and stadiums to the clubs and pubs and street corners, entertainers stepped up to the plate to ensure that the athletes and their fans had the experience of a lifetime.

“We’ve shown what we can do, and it is truly disappointing that this budget demonstrates that our government does not understand this fundamental equation.”

At first glance, the 2010/11 Budget for arts and culture does appear to fully restore funding to 2008/09 levels, as recommended by the Standing Committee.

On further exploration, however, the arts community spokesmen noted that funding for the Royal BC Museum ($12.1M) is included in the figures presented this year; previously it has not been included. There is also a “mystery” $10M allocation, which is currently not fully defined nor allocated to any existing funding organization, such as the BC Arts Council.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with the government to make the most effective use of this investment,” said Mr. Krieger.

The following table attempts to compare “apples to apples” and gives a summary of our interpretation of the 2010 Budget. Gaming funds for arts and cultural allocations as well as funding for BC Arts Council grants are significantly lower than in 2008/09.

“Why not just restore BC Arts Council to the $19M level of 2008/09” asked Mr. Alibhai. “Where has the $7M cut from Gaming funds to the Arts and Culture gone?”

To win its bid for the 2010 Olympics, the BC government boasted about the British Columbia’s vibrant arts and culture scene, claiming that culture was the “second pillar” of the Games. “We were hoping the government would continue to consider culture an important pillar of our society, ” the arts community spokespersons agreed.

“The economic, social, health and educational benefits to our communities created by investing in arts and culture, by all levels of government, are well documented” stated Mr. Walker.

“Public funding for the arts is the research and development of cultural spending”, added Mr. Alibhai, “providing the initial investment costs that allow artists and their organizations to begin their work, and then leverages additional private support which allows the work to develop. This government seems unwilling to strengthen that foundation, denying all British Columbians the well known benefits of a healthy creative sector.”

“Artists, arts organizations, community partners, corporate sponsors and our audiences throughout will respond to this budget in a forceful manner” predicted Mr. Alibhai.

“We’ve shown the world what BC artists can do,” concluded Mr. Walker. “What we were hoping for was that the government would learn from the past two weeks and continue to invest in the Arts. When all those visitors return – as the government tells us they will – what they’ll find with this budget is a lot of closed doors and cancelled arts programs.”

– end –

About the Alliance for Arts and Culture: The Alliance for Arts and Culture is British Columbia’s largest creative sector advocacy and member services organization. The membership of nearly 400 groups and individuals includes cultural icons such as the Museum of Vancouver, the Vancouver Symphony and the Playhouse Theatre, Vancouver’s many festival events and numerous smaller dance, theatre, visual arts and music companies and galleries, and individual artists.

About the ProArt Alliance: The ProArt Alliance (Professional Arts Alliance of Greater Victoria) was formed to advance the important role the arts play in the life of our community, and to advocate for public sector support. ProArt believes that, by working in partnership with our legislators and government agencies, we can sustain and build our region’s vibrant cultural sector for the benefit of all of our residents and visitors.

Also, skip on over to the BC Arts Cuts blog and check out thier take on the budget.

A story from The Vancouver Sun summing up the budget overall.

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The Face of BC Arts Cuts December 14, 2009

Filed under: Business of Arts,Finances,Politics of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:25 am
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It’s now been about four months since our community experienced a huge upheaval: major cuts to our funding in the arts and non-profit sector. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I’ve written about this topic extensively, passing along the word about rallies, protests, etc.

Today’s post is not about any of those things. I feel like we’ve been talking about BC Arts Cuts in more general terms: Presentation House Theatre, for example, one of my clients, has lost $38,000. That is a sizable chunk of change for a small organization, but how does it play out?

Meet Vanessa Melle. I did, last week, for coffee, in Gastown. Vanessa’s young–in her twenties–and just got laid off from her first “real” arts administration job: Director of Communications for Out on Screen. She lost her job as a direct result of BC Arts Cuts.

Here’s Vanessa:

I was the Director of Communications for Out on Screen, an organization that produces the Queer Film Festival and gives anti-homophobia presentations in high schools using independent film. The cuts to the Direct Access Gaming Grants left us with a $25,000 deficit and as we head into a new year we anticipate a further reduction to government grants by as much as $50,000. As a fiscally prudent and responsible organization, to ensure that our programs can weather the devastating arts cuts still to come, Out on Screen made the decision to lay off myself and another part-time staff member. It was a dream job and I will most likely have to go on EI before I find another one.

Gordon, Campbell, if you’re reading, I just wanted to let you know: by cutting funding to the arts, you are taxing the system by causing people to have to go on EI.

I have one more for you.

Recently, the City of Vancouver decided to close the Blodel Conservatory and the petting zoo at Stanley Park. It is my belief that this is because the Olympics are causing huge cost overruns, and the City has to figure out some way to make up that deficit. The Blodel Conservatory costs only about $400,000 to keep open. And closing the Blodel will have an effect on another young company that I work with: ITSAZOO Productions. Their biggest show of the year for the past two years is an annual, outdoor, promenade-style show that regularly sells out because it’s fun and takes advantage of a beautiful park setting in the middle of the summer.

Here’s Chelsea, one of the Artistic Directors:

If the Bloedel Conservatory closes ITSAZOO will no longer be able to perform in Queen Elizabeth Park. If any of you have seen and/or been involved with one of our outdoor summer shows in the park and you know how magical they are. It would be a great loss for us as well as for the community if we were no longer able to do this. It would also be a great loss for all of Vancouver, for many reasons, if the Bloedel Conservatory were to be closed down.

Chelsea asks that folks send an email to the mayor at gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca, asking him to please not shut down the Blodel.

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For more information on what you can do to help restore arts funding, click here.

 

Preparing for the Unexpected December 2, 2009

Filed under: Finances,Life — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:33 am
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A couple of weeks ago, my apartment was broken into. I live on the ground floor of a three-storey walkup, and I knew that kitchen window was dodgy from the moment I moved in.

They did a thorough job–jewelery, my older laptop (thank goodness I seldom leave the house without my Mac!), tools, my digital cable box.

The truth is, bad stuff happens every day: sickness, accidents, fires, job losses. And you can never really be fully prepared. But there are some things you can do. As an artist, someone who creates their livelihood from their art, you are more at risk than someone who has a job to go to, in some ways. If something happens, and you lose all of your paintings, you have lost a huge chunk of your income. For me, my main means of making a living is my laptop. If that was gone, either because it broke down/crashed, or was stolen, I’d be in big trouble.

So, in the spirit of hoping that people learn from my mistakes, here are some things I’m asking you to think about:

Insurance. I didn’t have insurance on my place, but the next time I move, I will get it for sure. In addition to having insurance, make sure you have a video or photos of your valuables, and have the serial numbers written down in a safe place. Emailing them to your webmail address is a great idea. You may want to do the same with ID. My passport was stolen, but I had scanned it recently because of a trip I took. It was very reassuring to be able to find my passport number with a minimum of effort.

Emergency fund: Even if you do have insurance, chances are there is some kind of deductible. As well, it may take quite a bit of time for the policy to be processed and for you to get the money. Having a separate bank account that is harder to get at (perhaps at a different bank than your main one) is a great solution. Whatever you can afford every month: put something away “just in case.” Experts recommend three months’ salary. You may not be able to manage that, but every bit that keeps you from having to borrow in dire circumstances is worth it.

Backing up: If you have files that are important or integral to your business, back them up. You may want to even think about multiple backups, including one that is off-site, in case of fire or, as in my case, the thieves took my flash drive backup, as well. Upload your photos to Picassa or Photobucket. You can make your settings private so no one else can see them, but at least you know you have a copy of your wedding/baby pictures somewhere.

The best-case scenario in preparing for the unexpected is that you will never need your backup plan. But if the worst happens, you’re covered…

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The Wrecking Ball and beyond November 25, 2009

Filed under: Finances,Politics of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:38 am
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On Monday night, the Vancouver Theatre Community united at The Wrecking Ball.

It was a really fun night–for me the joy of going to these things is seeing my friends in person. There were some great acts. I particularly enjoyed the “ironic” ones: the guy that did a Kevin Krueger impersonation/speech, and Linda Griffiths. Also, Jim Byrnes singing Dylan’s “The Times They Are a’Changing” was a big highlight, and when Katharine Shaw of Studio 58 smashed her Gordon Campbell cookie.

I also really, really loved some of the new PSAs that had their debut. My favorite one was written by and stars the lovely and talented Peter New, and his partner Kathryn Dobbs. It’s directed by Mike Jackson, and entitled Movie.

But for me, some of the more powerful things that came out of the Wrecking Ball, didn’t happen until the day after. It has now been three months since the cuts. Some people have had their funding restored (for this year, anyway), and some have not. What I think the Alliance for Arts and Culture is doing right is they are not letting it go. I think much of the reason why some of the funding was restored was because of the huge outcry. So the Alliance is creating ways and methods of helping us to keep the fight going.

First of all, the Alliance launched its Creativity Counts website yesterday. It includes the Advocacy Toolkit, which contains all the numbers that were so aptly presented by Adrienne Wong on Monday night. It also contains suggestions and ideas for making your voice heard. A new contest has just been announced that requires folks to use post-its to create their message. Finally, you can get a shiny “Creativity Counts! Restore Arts Funding Now” badge for your website or blog, just like I have in the sidebar.

I’ll leave you with a few moments of Jim Byrnes…

UPDATE, 2 PM: I just got a note from Adrienne saying that there is going to be a flashmob tomorrow. Details below.

At 4:30pm on Thursday November 26th please come to Waterfront Station.
Sing “Standy by Me” in solidarity with members of Vancouver’s music community.
Have your voice heard.

Please come and disseminate invitation widely.
*We are inviting the MEDIA and the more the merrier – and more impressive*

Here are the details:
A WHAT? : some might call it a flash mob…
TIME: singing begins at 4:30 sharp, arrive a couple minutes early, blend in, then just go with the flow when the singing starts
LOCATION: Waterfront Station, find the crowd
WHAT: Stand by Me – sing along or bring an instrument!
SHOW YOUR COLOURS: write “music” or “theatre” or “film” or “dance” or “sculpture” on your shirt, or hold a sign
LOOK FOR: a banner that says “Stand by us and stop arts cuts”
AT THE END: disperse back into the city

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The Wrecking Ball: 2009 November 13, 2009

Filed under: Finances,Politics of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:16 am
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In October of last year, just before the federal election, a series of cabarets were held across the country. Organized by The Department of Culture, they were called The Wrecking Ball. Their purpose was to raise awareness in our community that we, as artists, are an important part of the greater political and financial picture here in Canada, and that our voice should be heard by the powers-that-be.

I attended the Vancouver Wrecking Ball, and it was a powerful experience. You can read that post here.

In light of all the recent (and forecasted) cuts to the arts here in BC, another Wrecking Ball has been organized. This one takes place Monday, November 23, 8 pm at the Vogue Theatre. I’ll be there. Daniel MacIvor will be there.  I encourage you to attend, as well.

Here is the information from stopbcartscuts.ca.

Vancouver’s theatre community joins actors, directors and designers from across the country in creative and satirical protest to the BC government’s mind-boggling and short-sighted plan to slash 90% of cultural funding, which will make it the only jurisdiction in Canada not to invest in culture.

In 2008, during the federal election, Wrecking Ball events across Canada helped turn the tide of public opinion against the Harper government’s planned culture cuts, and prevented a Harper majority. This time, events across Canada throughout the month of November will highlight the devastating arts cuts announced by the BC government in their September budget update.

Vancouver’s Wrecking Ball features some of Canada’s most nationally and internationally recognized actors and directors, including multiple award-winning actor/playwrights Daniel MacIvor (House, Twitch City) and Linda Griffiths (Maggie and Pierre), Leacock-winning writer Mark Leiren Young, Alcan Award winner Carmen Aguirre, Steven Hill of Leaky Heaven Circus, and Camyar Chai.wreck_ball32

Margaret Atwood asks, “What is it that power-hungry politicians want from BC artists? Control over the story through the annihilation of the former story-tellers? Is this the agenda behind the decapitation of arts funding in British Columbia, while mega-millions are poured into the Olympics? The BC arts community will retaliate, of course. Over the past 50 years they’ve put BC on the map.”

“It won’t just be a protest,” adds Wrecking Ball Spokesperson Adrienne Wong. “It’ll be a night to laugh and celebrate what we know – that British Columbians care about culture.

“And it’s not just arts and culture,” Wong adds. “Cuts to Gaming investments in many sectors indicate to us that this government is looking for ways to subsidize its corporate welfare, low-tax environment on the backs of civil society organizations that provide essential services to British Columbians. It seems that they don’t think much of activities like culture and sport and places where people come together for reasons other than profit. They call it a frill. We call it democracy.”

Wrecking Ball
Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville Street, Vancouver
Monday, November 23, 2009, 8:00pm
By donation

www.stopbcartscuts.ca/thewreckingball.html

Media contact: Ellie O’Day, O’Day Productions
604.731.3339 / ellie@oday.org / cell 604.313.7902

Vancouver Wrecking Ball Associate Producers: Diane Brown, Kim Collier, Sean Cummings, Bill Devine, Katrina Dunn, Brenda Leadlay, Donnard MacKenzie, Patrick McMullen, Michael Scholar Jr., Caroline Sniatynski, Adrienne Wong, Jonathan Young.

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New PSA from The Alliance for Arts and Culture October 31, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Finances,Marketing with YouTube — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:32 am
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I woke up this morning to this email via my Facebook from Kevin Teichroeb, who does some of the technical/website stuff at The Alliance for Arts and Culture.

Hi Rebecca,

We’re excited about a new PSA we’ve just uploaded to YouTube. I just finished it for the Alliance for Arts and Culture with editing wizard, Jenn Strom. It’s a community project that involves the photography – both time lapse and stills – of a few dozen flickr photographers. The force of social media is behind us. 🙂 I hope you like it, and will blog about it because it will give the video a real push. We want to keep expanding our reach farther and farther. If you could send this off to your contacts we would really appreciate it.

Many thanks, Kevin

It’s great. Another excellent example of using video to promote your business and cause. Please pass it on to your own Facebook/Twitter contacts.

Restore Arts Funding Now!

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