More from Minister for Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chong
Earlier this week, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chong spoke with the Straight about the arts.
Here is more from the conversation:
During the campaign, Premier Clark said she’d support a return to 2008/2009 levels of arts funding, which I take to mean funding for B.C. Arts Council. Right now the ministry service plan has it at around $9 million. Is that something you’re looking to address?
The commitments that she certainly made during the leadership bid are ones that our ministry will be looking at, and if we need to speak to the treasury board about how we manage that we will be doing that.”¦ We will certainly live up to the commitments that she has made. But again, it’s about making sure that we put the dollars in the right place as well. And I can tell you it’s always never enough. But at the same time we do certainly want to make sure that people have an idea going forward that we are looking at it, currently, in a different light.
Multiyear funding commitments have now expired and many organizations are going into this year very concerned about what’s happening in the coming year. Do you see changes to eligibility happening in next couple of months?
I will be looking at those eligibility rules and for people who have, you know, expired or come to the end of their multiyear funding, certainly we will take a look and see whether there will be an opportunity for funding for the next year while we’re in this process of dialogue.”¦ Certainly, if there are successful programs we want to see them continue. But at the same time, just because someone has had multiyear funding for a number of years but has done very little to increase participation or have you know not expanded the community involvement level, we will have to ask those tough questions.”¦ I’m looking forward to the dialogue, I’m looking forward to the retired judge being a part of that and hearing what suggestions are out there.
In the past, eligibility of gaming grants was part of the Solicitor General’s responsibilities. How is this going to work? How are you going to be working with Solicitor General Shirley Bond on this issue?
Going forward, certainly I will be working with her office ensuring that responsibility of the community gaming grants and eligibility, which we are required to oversee, takes place and is done as smoothly as possible.”¦ If distribution is still coming from the solicitor general, or whether it’s coming from my ministry, won’t be of particular concern. It really matters as to how we determine who, what organizations are eligible, how they are eligible, what it means going forward. And that’s what we really need to put in place because we do recognize, and Premier Clark in particular recognizes, the importance of the community gaming program to the arts and culture sector. She really does want to see how the decisions we make are benefiting the community and of course our families.
Can you tell us a bit about your own interactions with arts and culture?
Sure. When I served on municipal council in 1993 to '96 here in the municipality of Saanich, I actually was on what we call the inter-municipal committee where we were looking at providing funding to arts and culture groups. [It was] small amounts at a municipal level, but nonetheless my exposure to the diversity of groups allowed me to make decisions at that time as to who needed to be funded. And my first term in government I was the critic for small business, tourism, culture and arts. So immediately in my first role as a provincial MLA I got my teeth right into the sports and arts field and so I’m happy to be able to return to that.
And you know, living in the capital city, as you can appreciate, there’s plenty of arts and culture that happens here.
What sorts of things do you take in?
Well the [Victoria] Symphony Splash, as you know, is a very big event here. We have an amazing opera, we have small festivals that occur. I mean, once May rolls around here, from May until September, every weekend there’s some festival or another that usually takes shape here. And we do have, you know, theatres as well. We have Belfry, Intrepid, we’ve got Langham Court, we’ve got our two theatres here, McPherson and Royal theatres, all wonderful, you know, areas for young people and growing artists to become that much better in their field of endeavour.”¦ So I feel very familiar with the arts community, they know who I am I’m sure, so I’m looking forward to having my dialogue with them very soon.
Have you set up any meetings with the arts community yet?
I will be meeting with the B.C. Arts Council this week, very quickly. And there’s ProArts and as I say I have been a patron of a number of the arts organizations here in greater Victoria, they know who I am and won’t hesitate to call me on my constituency days to come and see me, and I’m happy to meet with them, obviously.