B.C. still lags in government arts funding, according to new report

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      A majority of British Columbia arts organizations receive less funding than their counterparts in other provinces--both from B.C. and federal government sources.

      The findings were released today by the Alliance for Arts and Culture in a series of four arts research projects conducted by Hill Strategies Research.

      The funding report (called British Columbia Arts Funding Comparisons, available here) also stated, "Because of lower government revenues, many B.C. organizations generate higher levels of revenues from earned sources, typically ticket sales, fees, and other earned revenues."

      The research compared peers in different provinces. It found that 62 percent of the time, B.C. arts organizations receive a lower percentage of overall revenues from the provincial government than peer organizations in other provinces.

      Similarly, 54 percent of the time, B.C. arts organizations receive a lower percentage of overall revenues from federal government sources than peer organizations in other provinces.

      Overall government funding is lower for B.C. organizations 68 percent of the time.

      The study, using figures up to 2014, was meant to gauge the current climate of arts funding because Statistics Canada’s survey of government spending on culture was discontinued--controversially--for budgetary reasons after 2009-10. Analysis of these data by Hill Strategies Research in the Arts Research Monitor showed that, from all levels of government, per capita spending on culture was lower in B.C. ($206) than in any other province in 2009-10.

      Fifty-six organizations across Canada were selected for the analysis, including 19 B.C. organizations and 37 organizations from other provinces. Groups ranged from dance organizations to children's festivals to choirs to art galleries.

      Here are some telling examples about how the figures broke down for certain arts groups:

      Theatre: The four large theatre companies in the sample are Arts Club Theatre in Vancouver (total revenues of $12 million in 2013-14), the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton ($12.4 million), the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg ($9.8 million), and the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto ($8.5 million). Research showed that, as a percentage of total revenues, Arts Club Theatre received by far the lowest amount from provincial government sources (4 percent, compared with 8-to-10 percent for the three other theatre companies.

      Choirs: In the choirs group, the Vancouver Bach Choir (total revenues of $588,000 in 2013-14) was compared with the Toronto-based Nathanial Dett Chorale ($287,000) and the Toronto-based Elmer Iseler Singers ($592,000). Federal government funding was lowest for the Vancouver Bach Choir (6%, compared with 24% and 28% for the other choirs).
      Orchestras: The news was better in a comparison of large symphony orchestras: the Vancouver Symphony received slightly more provincial and federal government funding than two Alberta orchestras but much less than the Orchestre symphonique de Québec from provincial government sources (10 percent, 7 percent, 8 percent, and 42 percent, respectively).
      Dance: In the dance world, Ballet B.C. received more from all government sources (35 percent) than Toronto's Ballet Jorgen (26 percent) but much less than Les ballets jazz de Montreal (46 percent). Promisingly, between 2009-10 and 2013-14, the revenues of Ballet B.C. more than doubled (a 144 percent increase), which surpassed the increases for the two other companies (26 percent for Ballet Jorgen and 38 percent for Les ballets jazz).
      Art galleries: And amid large galleries, Vancouver Art Gallery received 23 percent of its 2013-14 budget from all government sources, compared with 74 percent for the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. The Vancouver Art Gallery generated a much larger share of its total revenues from earned and private sector sources.