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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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.

 

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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