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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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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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PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION AND CIRCULATE TO YOUR CONTACTS ACROSS THE PROVINCE.

All Residents of British Columbia :

Petition to Reinstate All Charitable Gaming Grants in British Columbia

Petition Summary and Background

Provincial Cuts to Charitable Gaming Grants for 2009-2010

To Premier Gordon Campbell, Minister Rich Coleman and the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia: We the undersigned are deeply concerned with the cuts to Gaming Grants in the province of British Columbia and how it will affect our Communities.

This is part of the preamble to an online petition that has been instituted on behalf of all Organizations affected by the budget cuts to the gaming grants of 2009 – 2010. It is our hope that when the budget is tabled in March after the Olympics we will not be targeted again.

Our hope is that each Association will forward the petition link to each of its members with a request that they forward the link to their members and supporters as well.

Please follow the link below to review the complete petition and to add your support. Then please pass this link onward to your contacts province-wide.

Thank you,

Geraldine Foster, Secretary

Bingo Council of British Columbia

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Several BC communities have shown their support for the arts with these wonderful photo messages. The Face of the Arts idea began in Golden, BC this fall. We’re posting these photos and their instructions on how to run your own Face of the Arts photo shoot below.

Golden BC kicks off Face of the Arts

The idea was picked up again on Gabriola Island

Gabriola Island residents show their support

Rebecca Coleman has also contributed an excellent blog piece on Art of the Business that shows how the cuts have already had a direct impact on several organizations.

These photos were taken by The Social Utilities at the Wrecking Ball on November 23rd at the Vogue in Vancouver.

The Social Utilities are: Caroline Liffman, Tanya Podlozniuk, Gina Readman, Aliya Griffin, Caroline Sniatynski and Adrienne Wong.

Take a look at the whole series in this slideshow.

Here is a call-to-action from the Kicking Horse Culture advocacy page about how you can put a face to the arts in your community with this very effective photo initiative:

What you can do:

Invite to communities and arts orgs all around the province:

All you need is a white board and a digital camera and a Flickr account via Yahoo (it’s free).

1. Take the photos at your events. Our audience loved it!

2. Export the images from your camera into your photo software program… we’re using iPhoto.

3. iPhoto links directly to Flickr. With other software, just follow Flickr’s FAQ to upload.

4. That’s it!

May we suggest thay you name your Flickr account “Face of the arts in (your town name here) BC” That way, when one does a search in Flickr, it will be very evident how many communities have joined in.

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There are several ways for you to lend your support to the arts in BC. Here is one more that is gathering a lot of momentum. Please help circulate this petition, and make sure to use our own easy-to-use webform to Speak Out Against BC Arts Cuts:

Arts Victoria‘s Petition in Support of the Arts here.

This petition will be presented to the Legislature when the house resumes sitting in February. As budget decisions will be made between now and then, we will be making interim reports on the progress of the petition to media, and are asking that completed sheets be returned by December 14, January 14 and February 7.

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Dear artists and arts supporters.

I want to first of all thank all of you for your work in the last several weeks to communicate your thoughts and arguments and your support for the arts and cultural sector through your curtain speeches, letters, rallies, presentations and general advocacy work. The arts community has come together with its boards, stakeholders and communities like never before, and we have been heard. This was very clear in our meeting with the Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture on Nov 30th, here at our Alliance offices, and by the unanimous recommendation of the Standing Committee on Finance. Congratulations!

It is clear that support for the arts is not a partisan issue and that there is strong support throughout this province and from many sectors. We are a powerful constituency. Culture Matters and Creativity Counts for British Columbians.

Part of our success thus far is in having a diversity of approaches to advocacy and communication and in remaining civil and professional in our dealings.

Articulate and careful presentations were made to the Standing Committee across the province and we have remained calm and civil in our dealings with government. This strategy has been effective, as we have heard from government, our colleagues and the community. It is important, moving forward, that we continue to engage our communities in showing their support for the Standing Committee’s recommendations, in a non-partisan, clear and respectful manner. We need the Premier to hear us and to encourage him to take his Committee’s advice; there is no shame in doing the right thing.

Within the next few days, the Alliance Advocacy Committee chair, Sandy Garossino, will provide a report on this meeting and suggestions for moving forward. With your continuing help, our Alliance will continue its work on your behalf.

Thank you

Amir Ali Alibhai
Executive Director

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Vogue Theatre
918 Granville Street
Mon. Nov. 23, 2009
8:00pm

By donation

Canada’s leading Theatre Artists take on the BC government from Coast to Coast

Vancouver’s theatre community joins actors, directors and designers from across the country in creative and satirical protest to the BC government’s mind-boggling and short-sighted plan to slash 90% of cultural funding, which will make it the only jurisdiction in Canada not to invest in culture.

In 2008, during the federal election, Wrecking Ball events across Canada helped turn the tide of public opinion against the Harper governments planned culture cuts, and prevented a Harper majority.

This time, events across Canada throughout the month of November will highlight the devastating arts cuts announced by the BC government in their September budget update. Vancouver’s Wrecking Ball features some of Canada’s most nationally and internationally recognized actors and directors, including multiple award-winning actor/playwrights Daniel MacIvor and Linda Griffiths, Leacock-winning writer Mark Leiren Young, and Alcan Award winner Carmen Aguirre.

Original member of the Nylons and BC Walk of Fame member Denis Simpson will host.

Margaret Atwood asks, “What is it that power-hungry politicians want from BC artists? Control over the story through the annihilation of the former story-tellers? Is this the agenda behind the decapitation of arts funding in British Columbia, while mega-millions are poured into the Olympics? The BC arts community will retaliate, of course. Over the past 50 years they’ve put BC on the map.”

“It won’t just be a protest,” adds Wrecking Ball Spokesperson Adrienne Wong. “It’ll be a night to laugh and celebrate what we know – that British Columbians care about culture.

“And it’s not just arts and culture,” Wong adds. “Cuts to Gaming investments in many sectors indicate to us that this government is looking for ways to subsidize its corporate welfare, low-tax environment on the backs of civil society organizations that provide essential services to British Columbians. It seems that they don’t think much of places culture and sport and places where people come together for reasons other than profit. They call it a frill. We call it democracy.”

Click here for further details.

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