Following meeting, Alliance for Arts urges civility toward Minister Kevin Krueger

Following a meeting with provincial culture minister Kevin Krueger, the Alliance for Arts and Culture is urging the arts community to remain courteous and respectful when addressing or referring to him.

Krueger, who was appointed to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts June 10, has been the target of an intense letter-writing campaign calling for a reversal of the government’s projected 40-percent cuts in arts and culture funding over the course of the next two years.

Krueger had also come under fire for remarks made during a July 5 interview with Victoria-based radio station C-FAX’s Eye on the Arts program, in which he said: “I don’t think anyone [in the arts community] 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.”

He met with the Alliance’s communications director Peter Boychuk and board past-president Ian Forsyth on Wednesday (July 28). The Alliance's executive director Amir Ali Alibhai, on holiday until August 17, is to meet with him upon his return.

“We’ve put out a plea for civility because he was certainly, I think, feeling a little stung by some of the things that were said,” Boychuk said. “I think it’s important that we address him with respect, because he is a member of our community and he is an ally in legislature and has a commitment to the arts”¦.Name-calling never helps. When it devolves to that it’s merely partisan bickering, and that’s not useful to anyone.”

Boychuk characterized the hour-long meeting as having gone “quite well. Minister Krueger’s obviously heard loud and clear the message from the arts community....He wanted to let everyone in the community to know...that both him and the premier are committed to working as hard as they can to find some way to make sure that the arts aren’t hung out to dry. Whether that will mean reversing the cuts or finding some supplemental funding or something like that he wouldn’t say at this point, and can’t say.”

The meeting with the Alliance comes after a similar discussion two weeks ago with members of the Professional Arts Alliance of Greater Victoria (ProArt). The group included ProArt coordinator Scott Walker, host of Eye on the Arts, who conducted the now-infamous Krueger interview.

“He repeated to a large extent the same things he repeated to me [on the radio], that the government has put more money in people’s hands by lowering provincial taxes and that the Olympics are going to make a big impact, and that...they’re hoping that things will turn around and that they won’t have to make any cuts,” said Walker. “We came out of the meeting encouraged that he says he understands and that he believes in our message. But we’re not saying okay, that’s successful, now we can stop worrying.”

Despite the recent meetings, Boychuk said he still urges the arts community to pressure the government on funding. “I definitely think it’s important that he continue to hear from the arts community,” he said. “The anxiety in the arts community hasn’t gone away and certainly is only compounded by the uncertainty around Direct Access gaming grants [which are under review and frozen until the fall].”

Krueger has repeatedly turned down interview requests from the Straight.