The B.C. Liberal Party has been unfairly slagged by the arts community, according to former Vancouver NPA councillor Elizabeth Ball.
Ball spoke to the Straight at the Liberals’ victory party in the Vancouver Convention Centre on May 12.
“A lot of things were said about the Liberals this time that they’d cut the budget for the arts,” she said. “If you do your research, there is no cut. There’s been a gain in the provincial budget for the arts, and it’s [the arts have] done incredibly well over the last eight years.
“The NDP promised the Earth to the artists, but the first thing they did was cut it drastically. It’ll take 30 years for us to recover from that,” she added. “I’d rather have a government that doesn’t make a bunch of huge promises, but actually delivers on the promises they do make.”
As the Straight reported on May 7, the Liberals are planning to cut general arts and culture funding over the next few years. The budget in 2008-09 was $19.5 million; the plan is to drop that to $11.8 million in 2009-10, with further cuts to $9.6 million in 2010-11 and $9.8 million in 2011-12. However, the party also promises to support the arts through a $150-million BC 150 Cultural Fund, plus $50 million toward a new art gallery.
“It’s a very thankless role to be in the position of making decisions,” Ball said. “My advice for arts advocates is to be prepared to negotiate fairly, and be able to say thank you.”
Ball was a volunteer for Margaret MacDiarmid’s successful campaign in Vancouver-Fairview.
When asked if she is a future provincial Liberal candidate herself, Ball said, “Never say never.”