Category Archives: letter
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
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
In the face of almost daily announcements of arts funding cutbacks across the province, former BC Arts Council chair Jane Danzo has released the content of her letter of resignation, officially submitted Monday to Lori Wannamaker, deputy minister of tourism, culture and the arts.
Mrs. Danzo’s resignation had been announced last Thursday in an internal ministry document, and Stanley Hamilton named as interim chair.
“With respect and with regret, I felt obliged to resign in order to have a voice” Mrs. Danzo’s said in her resignation, addressed to the Honourable Kevin Krueger, minister of tourism, culture and the arts.
Mrs. Danzo’s letter went on to cite the lack of consultation around the creation of the Arts Legacy Fund, the government’s rejection of the recommendation of its own Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services that arts funding be restored to 2008/2009 levels, and the lack of a real arms-length relationship with the government as evidence that the BC Arts Council Board does not “have a voice independent of government”.
“All these and other factors led to my conviction that I had to step down in order to effectively speak up” Mrs. Danzo said in releasing her letter.
Alliance for Arts and Culture executive director Amir Ali Alibhai congratulated Mrs. Danzo on her decision.
“We appreciate and applaud Jane’s courage and integrity in taking this step” said Mr. Alibihai. “The arts community is without question in crisis, and to have someone of Mrs. Danzo’s position and stature stand up and speak truth to power on our behalf is a major development and source of encouragement.
“Our own voices of protest and concern can be ignored and discounted, but her’s cannot.
“Some arts organizations that have recently seen large funding cuts are afraid to speak out for fear losing further funding opportunities. That this fear is well-founded is itself distressing and is a sad reflection of our entire political and bureaucratic reality. Ms. Danzo’s speaking out on behalf of the creative sector will help unite our community and strengthen our ongoing advocacy efforts” concluded Mr. Alibhai.
The full text of Mrs. Danzo’s letter to Minister Krueger follows.
Dear Minister Krueger,
Thank-you for your kind words in last week’s press release that announced my resignation from the British Columbia Arts Council.
I was very proud to have been appointed to the BC Arts Council and even more so to have been appointed Chair. I consider it a privilege to have been asked to serve the government for the past four years.
While my resignation may have seemed sudden, I had been considering stepping down for some time.
With respect and with regret, I felt obliged to resign in order to have a voice. In my opinion, the work of The B.C. Arts Council Board, has not been supported by government on a number of different levels.
According to the Arts Council Act, Council is defined as not more than 15 members, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The Charter of the BCAC further identifies the appointees as “the Board”. The Act stipulates that the Board’s main purpose is to provide support for the arts and culture sector in British Columbia. In November 2009, Council (board and staff) made a submission to the Committee on Finance and Governmental Services regarding BCAC funding for the following year. Council recommended that the government return to an appropriation for the BCAC and restore its funding to 08/09 levels.
This recommendation, which was echoed by the submissions of artists and arts organizations province-wide, was supported by the government’s own committee who brought it forward for consideration in the March budget. The government rejected its committee’s strong recommendation for restoration. The devastating impact of that decision is now being felt by artists and arts organizations throughout the province as they receive notification of substantial cuts to their core funding.
Instead of restoring the funding to the BCAC, the government announced the establishment of an Arts Legacy Fund- a surprise as much to the Board as to the arts community. Even after the announcement, the Board was not consulted for input, nor was it permitted to know the details as they were developed by ministry staff over a four month period.
Meanwhile, the arts community struggled, some members with life-threatening uncertainty, as they reduced their programming, laid off staff and made poignant appeals to patrons and donors for further support. And the Board remained awkwardly silent until the government released more information about the Arts Legacy Fund.
The Act also specifies that the Board support arts and culture through advocacy. This responsibility is virtually impossible to accomplish because the Board’s relationship to government is not at-arms –length. It has neither its own funding nor its own staff. It is dependent upon budget allocation for funds and ministry employees for human resources, both managed by a government employee. Furthermore, it has recently been made clear that the Board does not have a voice independent of government. The only independence the Board has from government is defined by the granting process.
The Board members of the BCAC are chosen for, among other qualifications, their areas of expertise and their knowledge of the sector. Collectively, they represent a broad range of board experience that includes not-for profit, public sector and corporate boards. Given the issues I have identified, it would not be surprising if such capable volunteers were to become frustrated, even disillusioned. I believe that unless government is more consultative, and makes significant organizational changes, it will be difficult to attract and retain qualified candidates for Board positions on the BCAC.
I strongly recommend that the government and the Board review the models used in some of the other provincial jurisdictions where their arts councils are at –arms- length from government; where they are respected for their expertise and judgment and where, as a result, the arts and culture sectors are better served. Surely such co-operation could produce only beneficial results for the B.C. arts community.
Minister Krueger, you have been a strong advocate for increased funding to the BCAC , and, more broadly, for the arts and culture sector of British Columbia. I am very grateful for that support, and, on behalf of the community, I thank-you very much.
Yours very truly,
Jane M. Danzo
You can use this form from greysquare.ca to submit a letter to Premier Campbell, Minister Rich Coleman, Minister Kevin Krueger, to your MLA, and to opposition MLAs Shane Simpson (critic for Ministry of Housing and Social Development, which includes gaming) and Spencer Herbert (critic for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts) regarding the B.C. Liberals’ mismanagement of the Gaming Direct Access program. You can either use the letter as it is written here, or edit it to your liking before submitting.
Re: Arts Festivals Cut Off From Gambling Funds–Vancouver Sun, May 29, 2010
On Saturday, May 29, the Vancouver Sun published a comprehensive report of major, though unannounced, changes to the administration of gaming funds in British Columbia, which are administered by Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman (Arts festivals cut off from gambling funds / A7).
As a result of its own fiscal choices, the B.C. Liberal government is now forced to siphon funds from large and small social profit (non-profit) groups at the heart of British Columbia communities, large and small.
Government Policy Diverts Gaming Dollars Away from Charities
The purpose of Minister Coleman’s changes to gaming eligibility criteria is not to make any positive change. The minister knows, as we know, that only a minute fraction of applicants will meet the new, only partially disclosed, eligibility criteria. The few that do qualify will only be eligible for tiny grants.
The real outcome is the diversion of gaming revenues away from the charitable purposes they were intended to support and into unspecified non-charitable government projects.
The damage does not end with gaming cuts alone. When the provincial government cuts support to BC festivals, the effect spreads far beyond a single budget line. Federal programs and private foundations frequently provide funds to match provincial contributions. Corporate sponsors naturally get nervous when their projects suddenly experience financial distress, and greener pastures are easy to find.
Abrupt and unexpected changes in grant eligibility jeopardize many other critical revenue sources. A single cut can swiftly multiply losses several times over, to devastating effect.
Minister Coleman Belittles Non-Profit Sector and Volunteers
We take particular exception to Minister Coleman’s remarks demeaning the proud public service to British Columbia made by thousands of volunteers, donors, sponsors, and ordinary people who work incredibly hard in the arts sector year in and year out. Out of the spotlight and behind the scenes, an army of dedicated citizens tirelessly labours to keep the doors open on our non-profit festivals, arts companies, orchestras, galleries and museums in villages, towns, and cities across this province.
At every turn they cut costs and stretch each precious dollar to the breaking point. They do this in the most honourable tradition of public service, for the privilege of presenting the finest BC, Canadian, and international talent to all British Columbians, including our children, at an affordable price (or for free) ensuring access to all.
These unsung heroes deserve better from our government leaders than to be dismissed as incompetent failures.
3.5 Million Attend BC Arts and Culture Presentations
Arts and culture in BC are hugely popular. The arts community is honoured to serve more than 3.5 million British Columbians, including some 300,000 schoolchildren who attend non-profit performances and exhibitions annually from Atlin and Fort Nelson to Victoria and Sparwood.
When the world turned its eyes to British Columbia at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, our artists stood with our athletes to put Canada’s heart on its sleeve. The Cultural Olympiad showed all British Columbians the priceless value of investment in our own talent.
Non-Profit Sector Helps Small Business
When artists take the stage, they put British Columbians to work — be they ticket sellers, dry cleaners, caterers, printers, waiters and waitresses, lighting suppliers, ushers, stage hands, sound engineers, taxi drivers, parking attendants, delivery drivers, florists, hair dressers, or babysitters. This buzz of economic activity not only keeps British Columbians employed, it generates sufficient tax revenue to cover taxpayer investment in the arts, with more left over for schools and hospitals.
Small business is the backbone of British Columbia’s economy, and the arts sector is proud to support and partner with small businesses in communities across our province.
Public Support for Arts and Culture an Internationally Accepted Practice
It is deeply misguided to suggest that professional exhibitions and performances can be mounted on a strictly private enterprise model. If this were the case, none of the world’s greatest museums or professional companies would exist today–the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bolshoi Ballet, La Scala Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the British Museum — not one of these pillars of modern civilization could survive without considerable government investment.
Each was built from humble beginnings, generation by generation, upon the bedrock of visionary leadership who made a pact with a future they would not live to see. They understood that a nation’s greatest prize is its heart, and that belongs to all the people, not just the rich and powerful.
Government Policy Means Art is Only for the Rich
Here in BC, if Minister Coleman’s view prevails, only the wealthy in our large urban centres will see the greatest performances and exhibitions, even those of our own homegrown and world-renowned artists.
Art Serves British Columbia
The arts community is proud of its service to all British Columbians, proud of its volunteerism, its enterprise and can-do spirit, proud to enrich our culture and traditions, proud to grow British Columbia’s profile and reputation abroad, and proud to contribute to our provincial economy.
Re-Instate Gaming Grants and Consult with Charitable Arts Sector
We ask today for Minister Coleman to reinstate full access to gaming funds for arts and culture organizations throughout the province.
We renew our calls on the government to consult with our sector so that together we can build a vibrant future for British Columbia.
Chair, Advocacy Task Force
Alliance for Arts and Culture
I’ve always considered music education a defining element of my youth that facilitated my success, although I chose a career path outside of music. Confidence, creativity, and teamwork were all outcomes of the music experience that served me well.
Those sentiments (the benefits of music education outside of music careers) were echoed with Ellis Marsalis, Jr., modern jazz pioneer, music educator, and the father of the first family of jazz in New Orleans and beyond, in an interview that I conducted in 2007. “To me there’s nothing wrong with somebody who has played a musical instrument and is not going to do it for a living becoming the CEO of a major corporation, and there’s a ton of that,” said Marsalis. “I met a guy at Merrill Lynch who’s a clarinet player. One of the best pianists we had, a young lady at NOCCA when I was teaching there – She’s a banker in New Jersey” (NOCCA refers to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, an advanced program for young prodigies of music and the arts for high school-aged youths in New Orleans). As he explained, music education is an important element of a well-rounded education that prepares a student for a diversified world and uncertain times.
After that conversation, I became intrigued with this topic. For a period of 18 months, I discussed this subject with 32 CEO’s and business leaders from a cross-section of business who were influenced by music education as a child or adolescent and who viewed that experience as a defining one in preparing them for success in their business endeavors. I asked them to reflect and to articulate the lessons learned, attributes developed, and insights gained from their music experience that were highly correlative to success in the business world, “FROM THE BAND ROOM TO THE BOARDROOM,” so to speak.
The compilation of those interviews became the foundation of my book “Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music,” released in September, 2009.
An article that is a synopsis of the book entitled “FROM THE BAND ROOM TO THE BOARDROOM…The 9 Common Lessons of Music Education That Translate into Success” is available for reference.
Craig M. Cortello
“The Business Musician”
I have many stories to tell about the power of art as I am now a music teacher but I was saved by art in Grade 9. I was completely, utterly un-interested in any academic pursuit and had pretty much resigned to the fact that I simply didn’t fit the system, when my English teacher commented to me that I was always doodling and scribbing. He asked me what I was writing and I told him “just poems and songs and stuff.” Since I was uninspired by anything else in the curriculum, he told me in private that if I filled up a binder full of songs, poems and drawings he would mark it equally as the other assignments. In that one moment I was given a gift. I was astounded, and felt like what I wanted to do had value. Not only that, but it gave me hope knowing that even in the rigid school system a teacher could be an individual and make personal judgement calls.
I wrote like mad and was critiqued, applauded, questioned and marked. It was our secret. It went on through grades 10 and 11. I went on to be a songwriter and musician performing with various groups and bands including the CBC Radio Orchestra. Years later I wrote that teacher a letter and told him how much his embracing my creative force inspired me and changed my life. He wrote back saying “I recognised your handwriting right away…”
I now hold sound and music workshops for kids, youth and adults with developmental issues. More than teach them how to make music, I try to give them the space and encouragement to appreciate the experience of being creative in the moment. To me music and art in general is a living space where we can try out new thoughts, put on boots bigger than our own, and write a letter across time. Taking music out of schools will hurt students chances in all other areas of learning.
Sound and Music Educator