B.C. culture minister Coralee Oakes says no new money budgeted for Vancouver Art Gallery move
The Vancouver Art Gallery may find it much tougher to create a $300-million to $350-million new museum across from the Sandman Hotel on West Georgia Street.
That's because Sport and Cultural Development Minister Coralee Oakes has declared that no new capital funding is available from the provincial government.
"At this point, it is not in the budget," Oakes said during a news conference in Chinatown to announce $500,000 in arts-infrastructure funding. "There is always opportunities to put forward things and to explore and have that dialogue, absolutely. But is it in next year's budget? No it's not."
Vancouver city council passed a motion in April granting approval-in-principle to lease the Larwill Park site for a new Vancouver Art Gallery.
However, council imposed a condition that the VAG raise $100 million from the federal government and $50 million from the B.C. government by April 2015.
That's in addition to a $50-million provincial grant to the art gallery in 2008 when Gordon Campbell was premier.
Oakes repeatedly said at today's news conference at the 221A Artist Run Centre that the government had already committed $50 million for the art-gallery move. She was referring to this 2008 contribution.
"There are museums—there are art galleries—in every corner of this province of British Columbia," Oakes emphasized.
She also questioned the wisdom of spending an additional $50 million on one location, characterizing sites like the historic community of Barkerville and the Kitimat Museum as "equally as important".
"We need, as a B.C. government, to be looking after them," she said.
Oakes is from Quesnel and the tourism minister, Shirley Bond, is from Prince Geroge.
The Straight asked Oakes what she would say to people in Vancouver—where the bulk of professional arts organizations exist—if they have concerns about the city being shortchanged in provincial arts funding under the B.C. Liberal government.
"I am absolutely passionate about arts and culture," she replied. "But I believe that arts and culture have a place across British Columbia. When I took this role, I said that I will be a defender of arts and culture throughout the province."
Then she mentioned the Sunset Theatre in the Cariboo town of Wells, and then described the interior community Barkerville as "one of those provincial iconic treasures".
"And so what I would say that this money that is distributed across the province is important to each and every person that has the opportunity to access this money," she added.