Scouring through the B.C. Liberals' platform, it's virtually impossible to find any mention of support for arts and culture.
While the arts have taken a back seat in the election to talk of the economy and public safety, both the NDP and the Greens made a point of including cultural support in their election promises.
The NDP has vowed to restore the 2009 funding cuts to the arts, increase the budget for the B.C. Arts Council, and provide a new $50 million capital fund to be administered by the B.C. Arts Council for investment in projects that support professional and community arts, culture, and heritage sectors.
And the Greens' platform includes increasing funding to the B.C. Arts Council, establishing a separate Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage, and cooperating with other levels of government to fund an "indigenous peoples culture and arts plan for BC."
Meanwhile, the Liberals' mention of the arts amounts to a single throwaway line about boosting tourism: "It [increasing tourism revenues] is why we established the $150-million B.C. 150 Cultural Fund and are investing $50 million in a new generation Vancouver Art Gallery."
And that's it. No promises of future support, no mention of the B.C. Arts Council.
This from the party that should be scrambling to garner support from the arts and cultural community following the release of their their three-year budget-planning document on February 17. In the 2009 budget, general arts and culture funding was reduced from $19.5 million to $11.8 million this year (with a one-time $15 million boost from money left unspent from 2008-2009). Further cuts projected over the next two years: down to $9.6 million in 2010-2011 and $9.8 million in 2011-2012.
And that B.C. 150 Cultural Fund? Revenues from the $150-million endowment, created in March 2008, were projected in this year’s provincial budget to fall from $8.33 million last year to $3.3 million this year.