It has been a very busy year so far for our Alliance and in case you’ve missed anything, or want to know what we are up to, you may find this update useful. We have seen the appointment of a new Premier of our province, a Federal election called, and some changes and a review of gaming funds underway. We can also look forward to an HST referendum, a Municipal election and possibly a provincial election. We also have a by-election in which our Premier is running for a seat. These all present opportunities and challenges to make sure that our collective voices are heard clearly.
First of all, we were proud to be a part of the Vancouver Not Vegas coalition, whose work, led by Sandy Garossino and Lindsay Brown, resulted in an unanimous decision by Vancouver City Council to prevent the major expansion of Edgewater Casino in our downtown. This initiative and the public discussion that has begun will inform the anticipated review of public Gaming, especially the revenues that are generated and distributed to charities. While we welcome this review, the situation for the arts and cultural groups remains dire and largely neglected. Especially as multi-year agreements have come to an end, many arts organizations are finding themselves ineligible to apply under the “new eligibility criteria” introduced by Rich Coleman in 2009. We have urged our new Premier and Minister to address this issue immediately, before a lengthy review process is completed. The $15 Million that was “restored” recently has not satisfied or addressed the pressing need in the arts and culture community, including many of our members.
It is also important to use the opportunity of the May 11th by-election, in which Premier Clark is running to remind her of promises made to the arts and culture during her leadership campaign. She has made good on the $15 Million to Gaming and we expect an announcement regarding a review. Restoration of funding cuts made to the BCAC, however, were also part of her promises and we urge our members and supporters to write letters to remind her of this. We support the allocation of at least 80%of the Arts Legacy fund ($10 Million) to the BCAC, and emphasize that this decision be made as soon as possible to avoid the confusion and backtracking that the BCAC had to endure last year. We also need to address the per capita level of arts and cultural spending in this province, which is the lowest in the country. We all want healthy, flourishing, and livable communities and the arts and culture have a large role in this. We also want her to know that those of us who work in arts and culture represent families and jobs that contribute significantly to our communities and which, in turn, serve families and support jobs in other sectors. Our new premier has an opportunity to distinguish her new government from that of Gordon Campbell and has much to gain from supporting civil society, especially the arts and culture. You can send letters to Christy@ChristyClark.ca
The Federal election is days away and we have worked with the Canadian Conference for the Arts to ensure a coordinated effort through a Common Arts Election Platform. Please vote!
For a summary of responses from the federal political parties to our questions regarding Arts and Culture, please vist the CCA’s website.
Our strength as an Alliance is based on our membership and in being able to work together to achieve our collective goals. I invite you all to Arts Summit 2011, being held in partnership with SFU Woodward’s at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts on June 10 and 11th. This is a great opportunity to strengthen our networks and strategize together.
Amir Ali Alibhai
Alliance for Arts and Culture
As expected, the budget presented by the provincial government on Tuesday, held to a “stand pat” strategy.
We were disappointed to see that yet again the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Finance were not followed. Given the current political and economic climates, however, we have not been surprised.
A small degree of freedom and flexibility have been provided for the next Premier of British Columbia.
The budget for the arts seems to have remained about the same as last year. The BC Arts Council (BCAC) seems to have to deal with a very slight decrease in actual dollars ($18K) and the 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy fund is still intact at $20 Million.
We are grateful that these budgets have not been cut since last year, but there is still a huge lack in the BCAC’s ability to meet the needs of the sector it serves or to have a significant impact on its development, without allocating most of the 2010 Legacy Fund monies directly to the BCAC without strings.
Last year, allocation of almost $8 Million dollars from this fund came very late in the year, causing a scramble and confusion for the arts community. The ability to plan wisely through these difficult economic times is critical for the arts and cultural community as well as the BCAC. We urge the new leader of our province to allocate the bulk of the Arts Legacy fund, at least $8 Million, to the BCAC as soon as possible in the new fiscal year.
It has not been possible to verify the status of Gaming grants to the Arts and Cultural sector. If the numbers are in the Budget, we have not been able to locate them easily and are working on this. The BC Association for Charitable Gaming (BCACG), however, has announced that here too the overall picture is the same as last year.
Gaming revenues to charities and non-profits in the province remain at last year’s level, which is well below the justified need, and well below the level agreed to by the BCACG and the province in previous negotiations.
To date there has been no indication of a reversal of eligibility restrictions on arts and cultural organizations, leaving many of them ineligible for funding. The annual loss to Metro Vancouver organizations is estimated at $4 Million. This means jobs and programs.
We urge our new leader to address these issues regarding Gaming funds as a priority, to ensure that the civil society infrastructure of the province, especially the arts and cultural infrastructure, does not collapse.
Amir Ali Alibhai
Alliance for Arts and Culture
February 9, 2011 Hill Strategies: 49% increase in consumer spending on live performances between 2001 and 2008
February 9, 2011
- 3.5 times higher average spending on admission to museums and other heritage-related activities.
- Nearly three times higher average spending on art, antiques and decorative ware.
- Over 2.5 times higher average spending on books.
- Nearly 2.5 times higher average spending on movie theatre admissions.
- Over two times higher average spending on photographic goods and services.
- Over two times higher average spending on magazines and periodicals.
- Two times higher spending on newspapers.
- Customizing performing arts marketing messages for museum and art gallery visitors.
- Ensuring that performance information is available at museums, galleries, festivals, historic sites, and other cultural sites.
- Ensuring that brochures and other materials are available in libraries and at reading series.
- Presenting performances in museums, galleries or other cultural venues.
- Collaborating with other types of arts organizations, possibly through co-location, co-productions and shared creations.
- Hotels and other travel accommodations (nearly triple) and inter-city transportation (more than double).
- Financial services (over twice as much) and contributions to retirement savings and pension funds (nearly twice as much).
- Garden supplies (more than double).
- Restaurants (85% higher average spending on restaurant food and more than double the average spending on restaurant alcohol).
- Bicycles (more than double).
- Clothing (88% higher).
- Furniture (86% higher).
- Computer equipment and supplies (81% higher).
- Pet expenses (72% higher).
January 7, 2011 IT’S TIME TO GET POLITICAL: Let The Next Generation of Political Leaders Know What We Want
As three of British Columbia’s four main political parties begin their search for new leaders, it is time for the arts community to make clear what it expects from the next generation of political leadership.
The Liberals, the NDP and the Conservatives will be choosing new leaders in the coming months, and only the Green Party will be entering the next election campaign under familiar management. The recent past has been especially challenging for the arts community, and it is important that we make clear to all political parties that the status quo is not acceptable and that as a sector we have clear and reasonable expectations for the future.
Your Alliance has drafted an Open Letter to circulate to all leaders and leadership hopefuls. In it we outline four basic positions that the arts community wants to see included in any viable candidate’s arts policy platform, and ultimately in the election platform that their party runs on in the next election.
Our plan is to circulate this Open Letter early next week. Once we have had an opportunity to receive the leadership contenders’ responses to our four points we will “go public” with this letter in the form of a media release. This will include the responses we receive to the Open Letter and our thoughts on those responses.
We will then continue to persistently bring campaign conversations about arts funding and cultural policy development back to those four points, until we are satisfied that we know exactly where each candidate stands. And we will move into the upcoming provincial election knowing who we believe really supports our sector and who we feel is dealing in the platitudes and bromides we have become too familiar with. We will share that information widely and we will encourage our community to become active in supporting the candidate in their party of choice who is most clearly committed to those four policy points.
Before we take the next steps in this initiative we wanted to share this Open Letter draft with our community and get your feedback and suggestions. Email our director of communications at email@example.com with your thoughts on this Open Letter and the strategy we have developed for “getting political”.
The future of culture in our community depends on your wholehearted involvement.
Please sign both petitions – especially the first, if you live, work or have family in Vancouver:
- Petition to BC gov’t and Vancouver City Council to stand up for charities and non-profits
- Petition to restore gaming funding to charities and non-profits across the province
Please read BCACG’s
Open Letter to Minister Rich Coleman
For more detailed background information:
BCACG Brief on BC Gaming Legislation
At the Alliance for Arts and Culture’s Board Meeting on November 16 a resolution was passed to support the BC Association for Charitable Gaming’s Petition to the City of Vancouver to protect the charitable and non-profit sector in the City of Vancouver.
The request to expand the Edgewater Casino will come to City Council in the context of massively expanding gaming activity and increasing revenues to the province, at the expense of its commitments to charities and non-profits, including arts and cultural groups.
The resolution reads as follows:
Gambling in Canada was legalized for the purpose of benefiting sports, arts, and community charitable and non-profit purposes;
Benefits to charities and non-profits have been used as a justification for the expansion of gaming in British Columbia;
Support by charities and non-profits was critical to the success of the original grant of gambling license to Edgewater Casino, and the applicant at that time entered into undertakings to benefit the charitable sector in order to acquire its gambling license;
Edgewater Casino has not fulfilled its obligations under that original license;
The Province of British Columbia has failed to adhere to the spirit and the letter of its own Memorandum of Agreement with the BC Association for Charitable Gaming, committing it to allocating 33 percent of gaming revenues to charities and non-profits;
The provincial government has denied eligibility to arts organizations for gaming grants, which will have a direct loss to the Vancouver arts sector in excess of $4.5 million annually by 2012;
And Whereas this loss will directly cost jobs and severely and adversely affect Vancouver’s cultural life;
The Alliance for Arts and Culture endorses and fully supports the Petition of the BC Association for Charitable Gaming, asking the City of Vancouver to refuse any expansion of gambling until the Province of British Columbia honours its commitment to allocate 33 percent of net gaming revenues to charities and non-profits, or renegotiates that agreement in good faith;
I would like to encourage our members to pass similar resolutions at their own Boards and join the growing number of civil society organizations in the city in supporting this initiative.
On behalf of the BC Association for Charitable Gaming, which represents any of us who have ever received a Gaming Grant, I ask for the following:
I ask for all member organizations of the Alliance in the City of Vancouver to:
1. Put an equivalent motion forward to their boards, and notify us;
2. Write to Vancouver Council advising of the motion from this link: Blog | BC Association for Charitable Gaming ;
3. Disseminate the motion and the Open Letter to Coleman (LINK?) to memberships, asking for letters of support;
4. Ask members, audiences, and such groups as are thought to be appropriate, to please sign the online petition here: Petition to Vancouver City Council to Support Charities and Non-Profits – Signatures
The online petition is very important. Its success is having an impact.
I believe that supporting this initiative by the BCACG may be our best chance at achieving a resolution to this ongoing issue for civil society in BC, including arts and cultural organizations.
Amir Ali Alibhai
Alliance for Arts and Culture
Video of interview with Christine Benty, Mayor of Golden, BC, Caleb Moss, Councillor and David Allen, Chief Administrative Officer with the Town of Golden. The video tells the story of the Town of Golden, BC’s investment in arts and culture. Elected officials and staff explain why they invest and why they consider important to Golden. Special thanks to Bill Usher, Executive Director of Kicking Horse Culture and Rider Media for producing this video. Funding for the video was provided by the Arts area of 2010 Legacies Now.