A recent radio interview with B.C.’s Culture Minister on Victoria’s C-FAX has raised the ire of the province’s arts community. In the July 5 interview, conducted by Scott Walker on his show Eye on the Arts, Minister Kevin Krueger, MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson was asked about the government’s three-year service plan, which is projecting cuts of up to 40 percent for arts and culture. In response, he stated: “I don’t think anyone is lighting their hair on fire about what is coming down the pipe....I see lots of optimism in the people that are representing the arts and cultural community.”
In reaction, the Alliance for Arts and Culture put out a July 13 call for action to the arts community, resulting in a flood of letters and emails to Krueger’s office, as well as the creation on July 14 of a Facebook group titled Complaints From the Arts Community to Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts. As of 4:15 p.m. today (July 16), the group had just over 200 members.
Yesterday (July 15), the Alliance for Arts noted on its blog that “the heads of the seven largest institutions in the city have demonstrated leadership by composing a strongly worded letter to the Premier that will be co-signed by several dozen high-profile members of the business community and hand-delivered to his office by the end of the week.”
The Straight requested an interview with Krueger after he was sworn into office. That request was declined on Monday (July 13). The Straight re-submitted a request today, and is awaiting a reply.
In a call with the Straight, NDP culture critic Spencer Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End, accused Krueger of political spin. “It’s that same kind of process of spin, and trying to hide the story so people don’t actually know what’s going on,” he said. “To say that the arts community is pretty happy, that they’re unconcerned about the cuts, that he hasn’t heard any complaint, just kind of makes me go, well, where have you been? The complaints have been coming in since February, or since the budget was initially brought down, with emails to all MLAs, including Minister Krueger.”