Tourism, Culture and Arts Minister Kevin Krueger angrily halted an interview with the Georgia Straight today (October 2) and walked away after being asked about provincial arts funding in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Krueger’s reaction occurred in the hallway of the Vancouver Convention Centre following Premier Gordon Campbell's speech at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.
Krueger has never been interviewed about arts funding by the Straight, and his office has turned down several interview requests.
In the hallway interview today, he claimed that I had already written my article before speaking to him. Here is a transcript of his remarks:
Charlie Smith: The arts community is sitting here holding protests and”¦looking at 2010-11 and 2011-12—looking at what’s allocated to arts and culture in your service plan—and they’re saying, ”˜This is an incredible cut.’ How do you reply?
Kevin Krueger: Look at how the world has changed since last fall. I believe that having been the last drawn into the recessionary whirlpool that swept around the world, we’re going to be the first out. But we can’t put firm numbers on that. We’re doing the best we can, and we’re doing rather well. In the last seven months, we have put more money into the B.C. Arts Council than the NDP ever did in a full budget year. Last year in one allocation of $150 million in 2008, we established the B.C. 150 Cultural Legacy Fund that the B.C. Arts Council would administer in perpetuity. That $150 million is more than triple what the NDP gave to the B.C. Arts Council in their last four years in office. We established a $25-million Renaissance Fund so they could build their own foundations. Sixty-one new foundations were created. And a whole lot of existing foundations were topped up. They grew that with the leveraging of our money to $55 million. We’ve given $124 million to the B.C. Arts Council for their very fair distribution system since we’ve been in government. We’re in our ninth year—124 million bucks.
Charlie Smith: [In] 2010-11, $2.5 million for arts and culture in your service plan—is that acceptable from your perspective?
Kevin Krueger: That is the amount of money that we need to fund the arts and heritage, cultural branches of the ministry. You saw that this year, money was flowed to the B.C. Arts Council from the gaming portfolio. We will not stop funding the B.C. Arts Council, but we’re in very, very tough financial times.
Charlie Smith: Can you explain to me—because I look at your service plan, and I see $19 million in 2008-09, and I then I skip forward to 2010-11, and I see $2.5 million, and then I got to 2011-12, and I see $2.175 million. It looks like enormous cutbacks.
Kevin Krueger: I just answered that. I just answered it. Listen to your tape, Charlie. Every time I talk to the Georgia Straight”¦
Charlie Smith: You don’t talk to us.
Kevin Krueger: You know why? Because the last time, it was not a faithful article. It was a biased article. I think you’ve already written your story before you talked to me. When you asked me a question I just answered. I said that’s what I think. See you later, Charlie.
(At that point, Krueger cut off the interview and walked down the hall.)