Category Archives: News
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Speaking on behalf of its 350 members and a growing province-wide coalition of arts and community service groups, the Greater Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture is calling on the provincial government, specifically Minister Rich Coleman of Housing and Social Development, to reinstate all the gaming funds previously used to support community services provided by charities and non-profits.
In advance of Friday’s BC Association for Charitable Gaming Symposium at Richmond’s River Rock Casino, Alliance executive director Amir Ali Alibhai said, “We are taking this opportunity to urge the BC government and Minister Coleman to properly fund charities and non-profits, as was promised when Gaming was expanded throughout BC.
“While the government of BC becomes increasingly addicted to the lucrative business of gambling at the expense of vulnerable British Columbians, and continues to expand its gaming activities, it has proceeded to break a social contract made with BC’s citizens,” Mr. Alibhai continued.
“Gambling was expanded in this province with the understanding that 33 percent of its profits would go back into communities to fund key social and community services. Currently this percentage has been eroded to 10 percent and important community infrastructures in the non-profit and charity sectors are crumbling.”
Mr. Alibhai acknowledged that there seems to be no hope of stopping neither the unprecedented expansion of gambling nor the social malaise that it creates.
He notes, however, that “we are forced to accept this source of funding for our sectors. We therefore demand a fair percentage of revenues for our communities. We also seek a more transparent manner of allocation of funds than we have witnessed of late.
“The risk of political agendas and motives affecting civil society is currently great. This massive pot of Gaming funds is currently distributed entirely at the ministry’s discretion, without transparency, consultation, or any type of arm’s-length process to ensure Gaming is not a political slush fund.
“The recent priorities announced by Minister Coleman suggest a strategy of wedge politics that we find disturbing.
“The BC government has increasingly put pressure on non-profit organizations, the pillars of a civil society, to deliver the social services it has gradually off-loaded, while cutting back its own financial support of those organizations. This is largely a result of an ideological strategy to cut corporate taxes while jumping on the cash cow that Gaming represents by taxing consumers. This addiction to gambling proceeds is not healthy and does not build a bright or better future for BC.
In making this announcement Mr. Alibhai outlined three key requests, that the government:
* Restore the funding previously provided through Gaming to civil society organizations, including the arts;
* Work with the BC Association for Charitable Gaming to negotiate and formalize an agreement to allocate at least 20 percent of all Gaming revenues to the charitable and non-profit sector so that services they provide to the public are sustainable for the future.
* Consult with community organizations from all sectors on priorities and eligibility criteria and processes for allocation of funds to civil society.
“It is not just about arts and culture, this is about the general future health of our province,” concluded Mr. Alibhai.
Alliance for Arts and Culture advocacy chair Sandy Garossino will be the keynote speaker at Friday’s BC Association for Charitable Gaming Symposium 2010, being held from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond. Ms. Garossino will speak on the topic of “Advocacy in a Challenging Time: We Can Work Together Toward A More Stable Future.”
When I was 10 years old, a teacher took me and another member of my class to a Picasso exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was my first introduction to the idea that art need not be literal: that something’s essence may be captured by a radical departure from its superficial appearance. That exhilarating early discovery fired my imagination and completely changed my life.
Eye-opening encounters with art are essential parts of our education. They are as important as the classes we take, the exams we pass, the degrees, diplomas and certificates we earn. Arguably, they are more important, for they teach us not just how to be doctors or lawyers or plumbers or pilots, but how to perceive beyond surfaces, to think in unconventional ways, to approach life’s mysteries with intuition and imagination.
Education is about far more than memorizing and regurgitating facts, writing essays and solving mathematical equations. It is about inspiring young minds (and old ones too) to explore ourselves and the world in which we live. While such inspiration does not come exclusively from the arts, it is often through the arts that we first experience it.
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
This year’s Arts Summit will be held at the brand new Chuck Dailey Recreation Centre, a 5 minute walk from the Gateway Skytrain stop in North Surrey. We highly recommend “going green” for the weekend of arts discussion, workshops, panels, and receptions by taking the 25-30 minute King George Skytrain ride there. Register here.
King George Skytrain route to Gateway Station, North Surrey …