Alliance for Arts and Culture pushes legislature’s finance committee
B.C. ranked last in the country among all provinces and territories in per capita operating funding allocated to arts and culture even before recent cuts. And it would take a $75-million annual provincial investment to bring B.C. up to the national average, according to the Alliance for Arts and Culture’s submission to the legislature’s committee on finance and government services.
In its September 15 presentation at the prebudget hearings (to read the entire submission, click here), the alliance cited a Statistics Canada study from earlier this year showing that B.C. spent $9.67 per capita in 2007–08. The next-lowest figure was next door in Alberta, which spent $20.81 per capita on operating grants to the arts and culture sector. The national average was $26.73.
The alliance quoted Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, who once told the Victoria Times-Colonist: “Any government which says it has a plan for economic recovery and doesn’t have a plan in place for arts and culture doesn’t have a plan for economic recovery.”
Judith Marcuse, codirector of the International Centre of Art for Social Change, told the Straight that she will facilitate a public meeting at the Scotiabank Dance Centre on Monday (September 27) at 7 p.m. to chart a way forward for the arts community. “If we tripled our expenditures at the moment [in the wake of the cuts], we would still be the lowest in the country,” she said.
Marcuse stated that the meeting will deal with a range of topics, including the development of a provincial arts policy, which will complement the existing B.C. Arts Council policy. She said that part of the discussion will revolve around whether there should be an “arm’s-length sensibility” in provincial arts funding.
In addition, artists will talk about how they can get clarity around gaming grants and whether there should be a citizens’ advisory committee created on arts and culture. Another issue, she noted, is intellectual property rights for artists. “For example, if you get money from EmbraceBC [a multicultural program], they own everything, even your application,” Marcuse said.