“The humanities done right are the crucible within which our evolving notions of what it means to be fully human are put to the test; they teach us, incrementally, endlessly, not what to do but how to be.”
—Mark Slouka, in an article from Harpers Magazine, Dehumanized
Like dozens of arts organizations across British Columbia, Ruby Slippers Theatre had an agreement with the B.C. Government. In that agreement dated April 2008, they stated in writing that over the next three years, our company would receive $120,000 paid in $40,000 installments each spring. A legally binding agreement we assumed, we planned our seasons accordingly, hired people, signed contracts, rented theatres and rehearsal halls, bought advertising, etc. We completed one of our most successful seasons ever at the end of 2008/09.
We are still waiting for our 2008/09 installment of $40,000 and have just been told that it is not coming. In an email on Friday afternoon Aug. 28th, we were informed without any warning or any public consultation that after “a review” of the program, our money is not forthcoming. They are not honouring the agreement. They are not paying the money that they promised and owe us. Moreover, they are not honouring the rest of the agreement for the next two years. Ruby Slippers Theatre is now forced to cancel most of our 2009/10 season, break contracts with people, put people out of work, and look at the biggest deficit ever in our 20 year history.
In the business world, the government’s kind of behavior would result in lawsuits. They should be accountable and responsible for their agreements, and are guilty of breach of contract and public trust.
To slash and burn the arts and culture sector, one of the few sectors in B.C. that is actually stimulating the economy, is horrendously foolish and short sighted. It makes no economic sense, and absolutely no social sense. What then is the cultural legacy we are leaving our children? An Olympic t-shirt?
Gordon Campbell and the B.C. Liberals are destroying a sector in B.C. that was stimulating the economy and thereby financially benefiting all British Columbians, and laying waste to a rich cultural legacy for generations to come.
Ruby Slippers Theatre