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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
Executive Director
Alliance for Arts and Culture

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Dear Arts Supporters:

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:

Whereas:

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;

Therefore:

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
Executive Director
Alliance for Arts and Culture

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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.

JANE DANZO’S LETTER OF RESIGNATION

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

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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.

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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.

Damaging Dominoes

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.

Sandy Garossino
Chair, Advocacy Task Force
Alliance for Arts and Culture

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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.

http://bizmusician.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/435/

Musically inspired,

Craig M. Cortello
“The Business Musician”

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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.

Sincerely,
Steve Wright
Sound and Music Educator

http://www.soundandmusicworkshops.com

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An Open Letter to the Vancouver School Board and the Government of British Columbia,

On the subject of closing music programs and Programs of Choice in the Vancouver Public School System and province-wide.

I write to you today, on “Music Monday” May 3 (link to press release below), to argue against the closure of music programs and Programs of Choice in BC Schools. My name is John Oliver. I am a full-time freelance composer whose works have been commissioned by major Canadian musical institutions, including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Canadian Opera Company. My composition, “Five-ring Concerto,” was commissioned by Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble as part of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Cultural Olympiad. As part of my collaboration with Turning Point Ensemble, I am working as an invited guest with young composers at a Metro Vancouver secondary school. This music program is so vibrant that there are over 20 young composers eager to learn from a professional composer. I am also the father of two daughters, aged 11 and 13, enrolled in French Immersion programs in the New Westminster school District and active in the school music programs.

I attended Lord Byng High School from 1973-77. At that time, the Byng Band did not have a string section, but it was a respected band program. When I was growing up, there were no band programs in elementary schools at all, but most high schools had music programs with concert band at the core. Because I had demonstrated music talent early, my family paid for private guitar and clarinet lessons while I was in elementary school, though we had to pinch pennies to do so. It wasn’t until I entered the high school band program that I was able to explore other instruments, such as flute, the various saxophones, bass clarinet and percussion.

In grade twelve I designed a special “directed-study” course, investigating music notation history from the earliest examples of music being written down to the most avant-garde and contemporary music notation. I was able to do this because during grades ten and eleven I had taken part in a satellite program for gifted, self-motivated students at Byng called “Self.” This self-directed studies program encompassed English, History, and Physical Education. Students were required to design their own course of study in these subjects, picking their own activities and topics for study and essay-writing. We also produced our own theatre productions and planned educational trips.

I owe a great deal to the program offerings at my high school. I became a composer because of the breadth and depth of experience I gained within the Vancouver public school system Programs of Choice.

If the Vancouver School Board decides to close the band and other Programs of Choice, they will do irreparable harm. They will deprive our children of a hopeful, bright, interesting, and engaging school experience. They may save some money this year and next, but we will all pay for it in the end, including the cost of servicing the social ills that come with bored youth.

I believe that the BC government must stop funding private schools and put the savings into the public education system. Why should scarce public dollars fund private schools? Why should the wealthy be able to benefit from the mixture of public and private funding that will allow their private school to afford to offer a music program, while kids in public schools have their music program taken away from them?

John Oliver
New Westminster, BC
http://www.johnolivermusic.com

Music Monday Press Release:
http://weallneedmusic.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/music-monday-2010-press-release/

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April 30, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

I want to help build a case for the fact that Arts makes life worth living. Its not fluff, its essential.

I have a story; it was music that saved me. I was dead in the water at school. Hated it. Kicked around by bullies and humiliated by teachers, I nearly fell thru the cracks. Started playing drums at 11 years old and never stopped. It was all I had to give me any sense of self-worth. Went on to a 40 year career in the music industry and I’m still playing. Music saved my life.

People ask me why I keep doing this work after 30 years working with kidsfests. I see similar stories to mine unfold every year at our festival. This is the big pay-off for me.

Children’s festivals with an international scope provide kids with possibly their first eyeball-to-eyeball connection with performing, literary and visual arts from around the world. They get to interact with artists and then go and do their own thing in the hands-on workshops on the festival site. Many kids go on to careers in the arts, both as artists and technicians. I have many letters from kids over the years that did just that and credit our Children’s Festivals for exposing them to life-changing attitudes and decisions.

Thank you and cheers all!

Gord Osland
Executive Director
Rotary Okanagan International Children’s Festival

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Full text of the speech presented by Bramwell Tovey to Vancouver School Board (VSB) Trustees at a public meeting at Mount Pleasant Elementary, Vancouver April 20th 2010.

Good Evening. My name is Bramwell Tovey. I am the Music Director and artistic head of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. I am also a parent of two students in a VSB French immersion program, aged 9 and 11. My wife, Lana is a music educator with several years experience of inner-city school teaching in Winnipeg. For four years she volunteered as teacher of music and choir for Queen Elizabeth Annex Elementary School where she taught every class as this VSB school had no provision for music.

The VSO performs to 50,000 children every year in our educational and other concerts for children with a great deal of support from the public and private sector, led by TELUS, our Premier Education Partner.

The VSO Connects educational program works in partnership with school boards across the Lower Mainland. This program provides a link between the VSO and selected schools on a year to year basis and brings the orchestra into direct contact with thousands of students throughout the Lower Mainland. We have worked in harmonious partnership with the VSB and sincerely thank you for your tremendous support of this important program which also brings students to rehearsals at the Orpheum in downtown Vancouver .

One of the modules we present is a “Meet the Maestro” program. I have visited dozens of schools in this program as a guest speaker and performer, speaking to the whole school community, students, parents who wish to attend, and of course, the teachers whose dedication and skill is so inspiring. I talk about music, the VSO, the language of music, the elements of composition and of course, I play the piano- the highlight is usually a short movement by Beethoven whose music always connects with young listeners.

I make the point that Beethoven had a seemingly insurmountable handicap for a musician – he was deaf. He lived in a world of silence yet understood the language of music better than any of his contemporaries. He created some of the most extraordinary music to have captivated hearts and minds during the last two hundred years.

At the VSO we believe an education without a significant musical component is no education at all.

Music is a form of language which reaches every human being. It needs little or no translation. In a school district like Vancouver, where dozens of languages are spoken by our widely diverse community, music is the only language common to everyone.

The proposal to cease investing in the Band and Strings Program is one that the VSO strongly urges the VSB to withdraw. In many Vancouver schools we have witnessed first hand the benefits of the VSB supported band and strings program. The option of a user-pay or school funded program does not embrace the inner city child whose only connection with live music may be the saxophone or drum set that has been offered to them. The saving of half a million dollars is paltry when considering the life enhancing benefits of this contact with the world of music. In fact, I doubt this amount would even buy a family home within 10 blocks of the illustrious VSB building on West Broadway. When I heard the actual figure I found it hard to believe so much had been achieved with so little.

I do not bring these remarks to you from a lofty aesthetic perch. I grew up in England in the East End of London – my father died when I was a boy. Without the band and orchestra experience that I benefitted from in the state school education that I received, I would never have been able to compete and succeed in the music profession. As a single parent my mother could not have afforded the cost of these activities. I have a personal motive for standing here tonight – I don’t want a kid like me to fall through the cracks because of this proposal.

The Vancouver School Board has done a wonderful job supporting the band and strings program. Rather than cutting it I would suggest that you expand it, and consider adding a choral component to it – the magical sound of children’s voices has largely been silenced in many of the Vancouver schools I have visited. This should be the legacy of the VSB in these post-Olympic times.

What kind of message does this give to our children about the values of our society?

“Here’s an instrument. Now give it back.”

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