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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.

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For other “Saved by Art” posts, click here.

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I am a multi award-winning director, actor and the co-founder/Artistic Director of one of Vancouver’s most enduring independent theatre companies Ruby Slippers Theatre. We have, for twenty-one years now, produced and created smart social satire that is infectiously entertaining and relevant. We have a national tour coming up of our latest production A Beautiful View, and over fifty Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards to our credit.

Without a comprehensive music and theatre program at my junior and senior highschools, there is no question that I would have spent those formative years doing things self-destructive and ultimately socially destructive.

Learning to become a positive, contributing and active member of society starts as a child and is fostered by our education system. An education without a strong arts component is no education at all.

Diane Brown
Artistic Director
Ruby Slippers Theatre

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Guest post by Shannon Litzenberger

In April I spent a considerable amount of time researching relative provincial spending levels on arts and culture across the country. It was budget season and so I read a lot of throne speeches and analyzed a dozen budget documents, comparing figures from this year to last. For a couple of weeks, I was the goddamn Nancy Drew of 2010 public arts spending commitments.

The result was this article, which first appeared in The Dance Current print magazine’s Summer Annual 2010. Learn more >> http://www.thedancecurrent.com.

Post-Recession Budgeting and the Fate of Arts Investment

The arts community braced for impact as 2010 provincial budgets were unveiled across the country and governments articulated their public spending priorities. Federally, year two of stimulus spending is still in effect and the arts sector continues to see some benefit from these investments. Provincially, however, most governments are already scanning public spending line by line in hopes of identifying unnecessary expenditures.

Maintaining and creating jobs, while protecting essential services were the trending words in budget speeches from coast to coast. Basically every industry sector has associated jobs, so the real question is which jobs are being protected and created? Manufacturing? Trades? Health Services? Education? Environment? Energy? Arts and Culture? At a time of spending restraint, one would expect governments to seek relatively low-cost investments that produce significant returns. The arts sector makes a compelling case, with over 600,000 jobs, its considerable $46 billion GDP impact, and the multiplying effect an invested arts dollar has on the economy. Given this extraordinary potential for economic, not to mention social, returns, why haven’t more governments viewed the arts as a strategic investment in Budget 2010? Here’s what happened across the country.

After BC’s Liberal Government first proposed an eventual 92 % decrease to cultural spending in the province – a move that would have essentially decimated the BC arts scene – the arts sector poised for battle. During pre-budget consultations concerted efforts on the part of local arts advocates, assisted by sympathetic voices across the country, resulted in a unanimous recommendation from the BC Standing Committee on Finance to restore cultural investment to 2008/09 levels. However, Amir Ali Alibhai, executive director of the Alliance for Arts and Culture, confirms: “Arts funding was not restored to 2008/2009 levels… In fact what we have seen are further cuts to core funding for a total loss of 32.4 per cent from funding levels in 2008/09.” Vancouver-based Canadian Dance Assembly President Jim Smith explains that BC Gaming Commission contributions to the arts have been cut 58% and the BC Arts Council has been cut 53% from 2008/09, reducing core support for the creation of cultural experiences like those that thrilled audiences in Canada and world-wide during the 2010 Olympics. A new $10 million annual fund for arts and sport was introduced, though no further details about the fund are available. Smith reflects, “I expect, as a direct result of these cuts, in a year or two, a significant number of arts organizations will no longer be in operation.”

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