B.C. Liberal budget includes savage cuts to core arts funding

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.




Sep 1, 2009 at 4:00pm

so, specifically, what programs are going to be cancelled?

ezekiel bones

Sep 1, 2009 at 4:13pm

This is not a shocking development, though it is very sad. I guess Gordon Scandal doesn't believe that arts have a place in his "best place on earth."

The worst part is hearing them lay it on thick about how they are doing it for the poor hungry children.

We've had the worst child poverty in the country for several years running, and they haven't cared one bit about it.

The only time the Lieberals care about such things is when they see an opportunity to pit one public good against another in the service of their twisted ideology.

How come we can afford hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for the oil and gas industry - but not a few million for arts groups?

This budget is a new low for the Lieberals.


Sep 1, 2009 at 5:29pm

Perhaps there should be an 81% reduction in the participation of affected BC's amateur and professional performers in the opening ceremonies and subsequent Olympic celebrations?
Getting what you pay for should be something the Liberals and the anti-culture groups should understand.

Phil A Stein

Sep 1, 2009 at 7:11pm

Why should taxpayers foot the bill for arts funding when other services (health, education, public safety) need to be supported? There's only a finate amount of money to go around. I like arts and culture, but I feel I should pay for it out of my own pocket.


Sep 1, 2009 at 8:31pm

Arts funding should be increased during an economic downturn, not diminished. For every dollar invested in the arts, the BC government gets back $1.38 in taxes. No other province in Canada is decreasing arts funding because they know it's a good stimulus for the economy. Some provinces have actually increased arts funding during this time. What's wrong with BC??


Sep 1, 2009 at 9:13pm

Seems to me that the arts are such an integral part of all the other sectors, there should be funding in each sector dedicated to the artistic in each.
Try spending a day without anything having to do with" art". You wouldnt be doing much.
The Liberals just loooove to have "the arts" as a separate "special interest" group that can be sectioned off and cut from the budget. It makes it far more easy for them to justify. The arts isnt just about "going to the opera "
It is integral to health, to education, (yes-even to sports!) and to all other sectors. It is about the creative in everyone and it informs us in infinate ways as to who we are as "a culture" (not to mention the infinite benefits gained....).
... and then there are all those places in the province who were encouraged to develop "cultural tourism" (since we have no manufacturing or resource base left)). Oh- I forgot- they just nixed Tourism BC too. Nice going folks. There goes the economy....

ezekiel bones

Sep 1, 2009 at 9:33pm

"Why should taxpayers foot the bill for arts funding when other services (health, education, public safety) need to be supported?"

Because it is not an either/or choice. We could afford a $220 million tax break for banks in 2008, but in 2009 we can't afford to fund school lunch programs and fringe festivals?

That's horse shat, boy.


They call it "$220 million to phase out the existing capital tax on financial institutions and replace it with a minimum tax"

Viewer From Afar

Sep 2, 2009 at 8:02am

Ouch...the harbinger of doom came when they test drove the budget before the election. The BC electorate saw what was coming and endorsed the direction anyway. The arts community were relatively complacent and conciliatory through the process. I guess we get the government we deserve after all. What now? A boycott of the Olympics comes to mind as that is arguably where a lot of the "discretionary" funding is heading.


Sep 2, 2009 at 8:15am

This news is appalling and a national embarrassment. There is no recognition that arts and culture bring tourists to the province and represent it on the world stage; just the prehistoric idea that art is a drain on public funds.


Sep 2, 2009 at 9:14am

It is time for a call of non-participation by artists in the olympic ceremonies. ART STRIKE 2010!