Arts groups are raising questions about who exactly is eligible for community gaming grants in the province now that announced changes are ready to start.
New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, the Opposition critic for arts and culture and MLA for Vancouver–West End, says he was recently told by a bureaucrat with the B.C. Ministry of Housing and Social Development, which is responsible for gaming grants, that writing, dance, film, fringe, and other festivals would not be eligible for that funding this year.
“To me, all of those events qualify as things that have broad community support and are definitely community cultural celebrations, and so this shocked me,” Chandra Herbert told the Straight by phone.
In March, the ministry announced that although adult arts and culture groups would no longer receive the grants for 2010-11, fairs, festivals, and museums were still listed as eligible programs.
Chandra Herbert said no explanation was given when he asked why the decision was allegedly made to deny grants to many festival groups.
“Maybe the minister [Rich Coleman] would be willing to put on the record what those requirements [for festival grants] are, but really I think the minister needs to go back and say, ”˜Listen, we made a mistake here,’?” he said.
Linda Tanaka, artistic director of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, expressed frustration about the confusion surrounding the grant application process. “It’s wasting my time. It’s taking my energy,” Tanaka told the Straight.
Norman Armour, executive director of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, told the Straight that the government has failed to communicate the requirements for grant eligibility. “I think it’s just very unprofessional and very unaccountable,” Armour said.
The Ministry of Housing did not return a call requesting an interview by deadline.