Gordon Campbell government budget hammers the arts

Today's B.C. government budget includes draconian cuts to the arts.

According to the estimates, which break down expenses on a ministry-by-ministry basis, provincial government arts funding will decline by nearly 40 percent in the coming fiscal year.

In 2008/09, the Campbell government spent $19.5 million on arts and culture. In the coming fiscal year, that will fall to $11.9 million.

This money will go to "support and funding for arts and cultural policy and porgrams, including improvements to arts and cultural infrastructure and events throughout the province; administration and delivery of government programs under the Arts Council Act; and administration of the BC Arts and Culture Endowment Special Account".

The BC Arts and Culture Endowment Special Account will fall from $8.33 million last year to $3.35 million this year.

In addition, the government hasn't allocated any money for disbursements on capital expenditures for arts and culture, compared with $90 million last year.

In his budget speech, Finance Minister Colin Hansen mentioned  $15 million in  "one-time  grants to support arts and culture, and for the conservation of the province's historic sites". This figure didn't appear in the estimates for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

Meanwhile, the B.C. Film Commission budget has  fallen by 10.5 percent. Last year, the commission  spent $1.56 million; that's been cut back to $1.4 million in the coming fiscal year.

The film commission cut comes one day after the throne speech declared: "We will create new jobs in film as top quality partners of Hollywood and Bollywood."

In the throne speech yesterday (February 16), the government described culture, art, and building design "as critical drivers of dynamic growth".

"We will build on that creative economy with a new Vancouver Art Gallery and the new National Maritime Centre for the Pacific and the Arctic in North Vancouver," the throne speech stated.

It also promised to "leverage the promise of the new BC150 Cultural Fund and the new Great Northern Way Campus"--even though the campus has been in existence for quite some time now and no money was included in this budget for the BC150 Cultural Fund.

The expenditure cuts are part of a  massive reduction to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, which saw its overall budget fall from $349 million last year to $55 million  in the coming  year.





Feb 17, 2009 at 5:10pm

Yes, when things get tough, cut money to the arts programs that bring in tourists and visitors from around the world. What a great idea! Thanks, Gordo! We don't need no stinking ballet!

Brent Gibson

Feb 18, 2009 at 5:54am

BG - How many times do various and sundry sectors in the arts have to demonstrate the benefits of investment in the area - good god - and worse yet, how long will the community remain supine, slopping up what falls off the table with a toothless, stuttering "thank you, massa"