Tourism, Culture and Arts Minister Kevin Krueger cuts off interview

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      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.)

      Comments

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      25 Comments

      Artz

      Oct 2, 2009 at 3:55pm

      Kruger is a complete idiot. Recently he was interviewed on radio and all his responses were filled with extreme arrogance and contempt. Charlie Smith's questions were not out of line.

      Cold Art

      Oct 2, 2009 at 6:07pm

      There's cutting the arts for the sake of saving money, then there's killing the arts. We've all been thrown out into the cold, artists and patrons alike. Kruger and Campbell should be ashamed of themselves in not having to vision to see the value of art in this Province. I will be joining the thousands of other artists who will be going grey during the Olympics.

      Elizabeth Frank

      Oct 2, 2009 at 10:08pm

      When the economy changes we need to become more innovative, this is a tough time for everyone. We have to stop depending on the Government to do everything for us.
      We, in the arts community, are known for our creativity and resourcefulness. It's time we started applying those qualities to our own needs and stopped blaming our democratically elected government, who are seeking to serve our Province and are working with what they have.
      Charlie Smith is clearly bias and was not seeking an impartial interview. The shame lies with those in the media who seek to create false and jaded hype instead of bring people together in this tumultuous time.
      Thank you for your best efforts even in very difficult days Minister Krueger. Not everyone in the Arts community is so ignorant.

      sleepswithangels

      Oct 3, 2009 at 9:45am

      You say he ran off Charlie. Art you sure he didn't scamper or slither.
      I'm patiently waiting for that other BC Liberal symbol of cultural sophistication, Rich Coleman, to take the helm of this ministry.
      Maybe they could share it. The Krueger & Coleman Revue. Ambassadors of NeoCon Culture in BC.

      These two look like they would really enjoy making artists starve. I can picture them in artists homes and studios eating all the food.
      SMBs

      Keith Higgins

      Oct 3, 2009 at 2:58pm

      Elizabeth Frank: did you actually read the interview? Mr. Krueger refused to provide an adequate answer about how public support would be provided through the BC Arts Council for 2010-11 and beyond. What he did say was that the 2008-09 budget was high compared to what BC has done in the past, with the implication that nobody should complain because the BCAC had a good budget right before the election. Asked to respond to the actual budget projections on paper, the projections that his government made, and that he should, as Minister, be prepared to promote and defend substantively, he was unable to. He then had a kind of tantrum and stalked away. If this is his "best effort", perhaps he should find another line of work.

      These cuts are already causing devastation. In Revelstoke, BC, all of their cultural institutions are likely to close -- and it's not because they are lazy, or "false and jaded" there. It is because this government chooses not to spend one twentieth of one percent of the provincial budget to support communities' access to culture.

      One more thing: please don't presume to speak on behalf of "the arts community" in the future. That shows true ignorance on your part.

      Drew Kuchta

      Oct 3, 2009 at 3:08pm

      I think it would be useful if you looked into those figures, Charlie. I'm not a Libs supporter, far from it, but this post is biased towards backing up an eye-catching headline rather than attempting to educate the masses. How about digging a little deeper and giving us some data, please?

      Dark Horse

      Oct 3, 2009 at 4:22pm

      Under his watch, Minister for Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Kevin Kruger has overseen the dismantling of Tourism BC and a 93% cut to Arts and Culture funding. Soon he will have to refer to himself as the Minister of Nothing. Now, that would be a Ministry for which he is well suited.

      Susan McDougal

      Oct 3, 2009 at 4:25pm

      Sleepswithangels demonstrates his ignorance by failing to even quote the article directly above his inert comment.
      Mr.Krueger "halted" an arrogant reporter seeking his own agenda and "walked down the hall".
      Perhaps an ounce of Honorable Krueger's dignity would help you to keep from resorting to insults and unprofitable slander, but, unfortunately, it's unlikely you will ever acquire it.

      melodious one

      Oct 4, 2009 at 2:18pm

      Times of recession, no money, and arts are a luxury. What exactly is everyone so upset and surprised about? I'm rather surprised to see the govt do something that makes sense, actually. Art institutions are closing in revelstoke, artists and patrons are "thrown out in the cold". Really? Is this REALLY the most important thing to worry about right now? All this sounds like a whole lot of teenagers who are upset about their allowance, but don't really care much that dad got fired and mom has to work nights to put food on the table now. Of course Krueger didn't want to listen to the same question again and again, it was a stupid question to begin with! No you can't have your allowance this month kids, maybe you should make a lemonade stand and earn some money.

      Michael Fitzpatrick

      Oct 4, 2009 at 3:58pm

      Melodious One, the point that seems to keep being missed, and has been missed by you, is that investment in the arts is a net generator of tax revenue and an engine of economic recovery. Aside from (valid) assertions that the arts are an intrinsic part of a healthy society, ARTS FUNDING MAKES SENSE FROM AN ECONOMIC STANDPOINT. And despite your snide name-calling, Mr. Smith's questions were apt, to the point, and remain unanswered by Minister Krueger.