Former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell once described the federal Conservatives as the "barbarians at the gates".
After today's B.C. budget, many in the arts community will want to apply this term to Premier Gordon Campbell and his B.C. Liberals.
The cuts to core arts funding are unbelievable. The service plan for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts shows a drop from $19.5 million in 2008/09 to $3.7 million this year.
That's an 81-percent reduction.
In 2010/11, the core arts funding will fall to $2.5 million. The following year, it will fall again to $2.2 million.
When Carole Taylor was finance minister, she set aside $27 million for core arts funding, but the ministry never spent that amount.
Of course, the B.C. Liberals claimed before the election that they would maintain core arts funding this year, and only drop the amount by 40 percent in the following year. It was a typical lie borne of the fudge-it February budget.
Gordon Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen have declared war on the arts and on artists with this September 1 budget.
Campbell has appointed two right-wing MLAs—Rich Coleman and Kevin Krueger—to administer his nasty medicine. I bet that none of them has read Vancity's Sacco report, which demonstrates why a healthy arts sector is essential for healthy communities.
It's time for artists and cultural workers to use their talents to let the premier know that he's made a grave political mistake.