Bulk of $10-million arts legacy fund going to B.C. Spirit Festival Days, NDP MLA says

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      The bulk of the new $10-million arts legacy fund that B.C. Liberals promised in their March budget is earmarked for a new B.C. Spirit Festival Days, NDP MLA and culture critic Spencer Chandra Herbert says he has discovered.

      Chandra Herbert said Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Kevin Krueger made reference to the new event at the recent launch of the Klahowya Village at the Stanley Park mini train. When he pursued the issue later with the minister, Chandra Herbert says he was told the new, multicommunity festival would launch in February 2011 and then take place over the next two years, drawing funds from the legacy money.

      Pointing out that arts festivals were recently dropped from gaming funding, Chandra Herbert said: “It’s interesting because we have a number of good festivals that need support already. The government is speaking out of both sides of their mouth. They claim they support festivals [with this new event], and yet they don’t.”

      Vancouver arts groups, who are reeling from severe cuts to gaming funding and a 50-percent slash to the B.C. Arts Council, have called for the $10 million to be distributed by the by the arm’s-length council.

      “They’ve eviscerated the B.C. Arts Council by cutting them by 50 percent, they’ve decimated gaming funding. People just want stable funding for the arts, distributed by a jury process,” Chandra Herbert said.

      “I hope these are not going to be government propaganda festivals,” he added, pointing out the festival will run in the three years that lead up to the next election.

      The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts did not provide the Straight with any details by deadline.

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      15 Comments

      Julie McIntyre

      Jul 8, 2010 at 10:47pm

      What a terrible slap in the face to all the wonderful and deserving festivals across this province that are reeling from the latest gaming cuts. Just when I think the government can't decimate the arts and culture industry any further, they find a new way to humiliate it. It makes me wonder if they are reacting to a childhood trauma involving art - Perhaps a piano lid fell on their hands as kids, or people complimented them on their drawings of a dog when they were trying to capture a horse likeness, because this systematic punishment of a vital and growing industry is plainly irrational. It's a crock to call these cuts "fiscally responsible" and worse to assume great art needs no support past the marketplace. Cirque du Soleil did not magically appear from the ethers or from a game show. It had a strong provincial government that supported its growth for a great many years. Quite a brilliant investment I'd say and no part of the environment was harmed in the making.

      Ben

      Jul 9, 2010 at 2:18pm

      Who are these "people" that want a jury process, Chandra Herbert?

      Again, it still sounds like these arts groups have had their allowance taken away and are upset that it's going to a new festival. When the previous festivals that should have been using that government money to make their festivals profitable in the first place, to eliminate the need for funding.

      Keith Higgins

      Jul 9, 2010 at 3:21pm

      For those of us who remember "Music '91", the scenario is a familiar one: a crumbling government, trying to spend their way out of trouble caused by their own incompetence, decides that the arts are best used as a propaganda arm for the party in power.

      The lesson that we can take from that previous debacle, back in the dying days of the Vanderzalm/Johnston government, is that a government-run festival will deliver almost nothing in terms of community benefit, will result in presentations of inferior quality, and will not reverse the fortunes of this incompetent, self-serving, and arrogant government.

      diane sherry

      Jul 9, 2010 at 3:55pm

      sounds to me exactly like government propoganda festivals.

      Don Robinson

      Jul 9, 2010 at 9:18pm

      Do none of us remember the ridiculous Sea Fest/Tall Ships cluster___k, where the city gave tons of money to a group that had no plan, no organization, lots of promises and went seriously bankrupt, tied up many many companies in town with this merry go round fantasy, The organizers get off scott-free and people who were stupid enough to work for them ended getting 8 cents on the dollar. This garbage Spirit Festival sounds the same kind of dupe. The Folk and Childrens Fests have been running nigh 35 years and yet they are being DENIED moneys promised to them, as the greedy greedy government STEALS gaming funds created to off-set the cultural and human damage it causes. What a joke.\

      What the hell are BC Spirit days and who is behind them, who are the organizers and do they have one clue what they are doing??

      Don Robinson

      Jul 9, 2010 at 9:41pm

      Ben you seriously have no clue what you are talking about. Do you want to pay $500 for a weekend pass to a festival, because that what the real cost is. Most festivals are only capable of running due to the contribution of 1000s (literally) volunteers, Only a small number are being paid to put the festival on its feet and run the festival and not paid every well I might add. Its one of the leanest most economical use of funds you will ever encounter, and yet bloated companies are being given tax breaks and kick-backs so their CEO can earn another couple of million in profit and stock options. All while laying off more employees.

      Festivals by their very nature are incapable of being "profitable" on their own as the ticket prices are simply not enough to pay the meagre salaries their employees earn and costs of renting giant tents and staging equipment..

      Its greatly insulting for you (or anyone else who believes as you do) to be such a tunnel visioned fool to actually say this garbage without having clue one what you are talking about.

      Bury your head a bit deeper in the sand and try to defend the government cutting 90% of a profitable sector which invests solely in local economies, and which makes up a colossal 1% of the goverment's overall budget. Take off the damn blinders and wake up. Someone should.

      Nik Black

      Jul 9, 2010 at 11:59pm

      Ben - take your head out from your ass! This government has made you stupid and it's not your fault - but taking your head out of your ass is a good start.

      Read Mr. Robinson's post again and again until it finally sinks in. Governments around the world see the value of investing in the arts. The only government in the Western world that doesn't see that is the Campbell government of BC. Governments must promote and fund that arts because they would cost too much for you to attend if they didn't. So, their investment helps you attend the event. Do you get it, Ben? One company in Vancouver charges $267 + change to attend their show because that's what it actually costs without help from various levels of government. Nobody can afford it.

      The arts will NEVER be profitable, Ben, but the work they do brings a quality of life to where you live; the people who work in the arts are good neighbours because they don't care about how much money you make; and the people who visit here from around the world want to see what BC has in the way of new music, dance, theatre, film and visual art - so they can leave BC with a whole new vision of what we're about because they attended an event that didn't rip a hole in their wallets.

      I could go on and on, Ben , about the importance of the arts to the quality of life in this province. But my main priority right now is to help you get your head out of your ass. The world is a better place than the one you're experiencing (lonely, dark, dank and smelly), so please, get it out now. Save your life and leave your children a better world than the one you experience. Wake up!

      rednecks come to Victoria

      Jul 10, 2010 at 8:40am

      to Ben - I'M one of those people that want a jury process to fairly decide allocating funds. The BC Arts Council, like similar councils across the country, is made up of professionals in the industry that can appropriately judge competitive bids for funds. they know what works and what doesn't, they realize (for example) that it makes far better economic sense to support a currently ongoing successful festival than to try to start up a new one.
      What the BC Libs have just done is cut the BC Arts Council's budget in half. There was public outcry, so they created this $10M slush fund. EVeryone in the industry was recommending that they give that money to the BC Arts Council, but then they'd look like they were admitting they'd made a mistake before, so instead? Hmm, let's create some festival - 3 years, $10M!?!?!?!? They're going to spend THAT much money on 6-8 weeks of productions?? If Ben's still reading - you can take it to the bank that this is the least 'profitable' or productive way of spending that money. Business start-ups are hit-and-miss - the same is true in the arts.
      To Janet Smith - great article, thanks for writing - too bad it missed the print edition. I'd really like to know what reply Coleman was able to give to Herbert's very good questions.

      Nik Black

      Jul 10, 2010 at 2:14pm

      I apologize to Ben for telling him to take his head out of his ass. My frustration with the situation between the BC Government and their disrespect for the artists and cultural workers of this province has caused me to sink to the level of the enemy in a public forum. Ben's opinion is his own and although I disagree with it, telling him what to do by using a well-known and hackneyed metaphor is inappropriate. I'm sorry.

      Rina Liddle

      Jul 11, 2010 at 9:19am

      I want an arms-length jury process by my peers.

      When Humanities are expanded in our education system, and respected by the population, say like in Europe, then we can renegotiate how well the government is able to assess the arts. Right now, the only thing the government is able to do, and yet won't, is fund the organizations that are run by people who have dedicated their lives by way of education and ongoing production of contemporary art.

      Everything else has been said quite well above.