Vancouver fringe festival sees 60 percent cut to B.C. Arts Council funding

When David Jordan, executive director of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, opened his cheque from the B.C. Arts Council this year he saw that the annual festival’s funding had seen a staggering drop—from the usual $32,500 to $12,700.

Jordan told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview that despite the 60-percent cut in funding, his concern is not limited to the effects the provincial arts cuts will have on the fringe festival.

“What they [the government] are doing is a fundamental change to the way we deal with and treat the arts and culture in this province,” he said. “They are definitely being shortsighted”.

The fringe festival has an agreement with the B.C. gaming fund to receive $70,000 per year until the end of next year. Jordan is hopeful that money will come through, but worries about the future of the fringe fest.

“You’re not going to see a difference in how the fringe festival looks this year, and that’s the danger.” Jordan said. “The cuts they are making now are going to hit the year after next, and then nobody will be accountable for it anymore.”

Jordan said that the B.C. Liberal government doesn’t realize that it is “debilitating arts and culture” and ensuring a grave future for many organizations.

The annual fringe festival, set to take place September 8 to 19, will see hundreds of performers from more than 65 groups come through the city, and Jordan is worried what these cuts will do to these smaller organizations.

“We’re talking about a real ecosystem here,” Jordan said of the festival. “I think it’s important that I speak up for smaller theatre groups that participate in the fringe festival, because it’s all well and good for us to get funding from gaming, but if they don’t then they can’t participate in the festival.”




Mar 22, 2010 at 3:43pm

Appalling, especially after the hoopla surrounding the cultural olympiad. The province's artists got bought and used by VANOC, and now they're being tossed aside like an empty wrapper.


Mar 22, 2010 at 9:21pm

Yeah, okay. Would someone explain to me why "artists" feel ENTITLED to free government money while WORKING people with two jobs, two kids get nada. Really, why do we subsidize one segment of the population and not another? Who decides what ART is worth subsidizing and what isn't? Maybe if your ART is good, you won't have to be given free money from the government. I would rather my money go to families who are struggling to pay the bills instead of ARTIST who think their WORK is so good that the government should pay for it when no one else will buy it.


Mar 22, 2010 at 10:38pm

@ blahbla - I'm always amazed when I see comments that imply that artists aren't "working people". I can assure you, artists are working people, many of whom are working more than one job to pay their bills, feed their kids, pay their taxes and make huge contributions to our society.

The observer

Mar 23, 2010 at 8:04am

The first to fall will be the R&D investments in the arts sector, represented by groups likes the Fringe and the discretionary funding components that will disappear from mainstream arts orgs. In time the entire vine will wither and die - those that survive will have reverted to regurgitating the type of art pulp advocated by blahblah and others.

BTW is anybody buying blahblnah as a legit commentator? This sound bite has been spun in the backrooms of the con-liberal strategists and appears with regularity (and suspiciously identical syntax) in most articles questioning the wisdom of these massive cuts.

Robby R

Mar 23, 2010 at 11:39am

The Liberals spent months boasting about the quality of arts and culture in BC. They put our finest artists onstage, and in front of the world. They took credit for all of that, and for the enormous success which followed. They made the Olympics a showcase for our talents, and for our identity as Canadians. The world watched, admiringly.

Now that the Olympics are over, and the world is no longer watching, the Liberals go back to wrecking the foundation of art in our province.

The Liberals are such hypocrites about all this. They brag about our arts and artists during the Olympics, and stab them in the back when they are no longer "useful" to their agenda.

Uncle BlahBlah may not understand this, but the rest of us do.


Mar 23, 2010 at 8:42pm

Go back and read my post people. Artist may be working people, but why should the government support them if their work isn't good enough that the general public won't buy it? How are they any different from any other working people who can't make a living because they have a poor business plan? My point is there are better ways to spend the taxpayers money than giving to people who think they should get free money because they are "artist".


Mar 24, 2010 at 1:31am

Understood your point the first time, blahblah.
It's has a lot to do with expectations. I think a lot of non-artists EXPECT good art of many types to be provided for enjoyment or entertainment at no charge or extremely low cost. Artist are constantly requested to 'donate' their talent to charity fundraisers, and other worthy causes as well. How many non-artists are REQUESTED work for free just because groups of people expect them to. This would be an ugly, silent, and one-sided world if artists had to hold out for fair pay always before beautiful art could be seen by anyone. It would need to be kept in sealed-off rooms. Art is a form of education, art informs current culture, art communicates, art shares insight, art speaks all languages, art connects. For these reasons; just as schooling, hospitals and civic infrastructure should be provided for public benefit, so should art.
In contrast; Why are sports supported so heavily, when only a field or pond is needed? Just a thought....


Mar 24, 2010 at 10:06am

blahblah, you're missing a vital point. The Government does support all sorts of industries with tax incentives/breaks which easily outstrip the amount of money provided to arts organizations through government sources. So, your working family are as likely or not employed by a business who is benefiting directly from direct or indirect support from the BC taxpayer.

The other point to keep in mind is that the revenue which has been withdrawn is gambling revenues which were always earmarked for the arts since the inception of the programs. This is not "tax-payers" money.


Mar 24, 2010 at 6:42pm

blahblah-- you make an essential point without context. Do you or your partner work in say, education, health, mining, high tech to name just a few that are all supported and subsidized by govt. Why should they get support? Very few artists get support and the % of the annual budget is miniscule. Were you as bothered that your tax dollars (and mine) were used by ICBC, BC HYRDRO etc to buy 100's of thousands of dollars worth of Olympic tickets or that VANOC's fleet of thousands of cars were insured for free thanks to free hand out there, EH? We all make choices as a society. Make your choice but stop saying if people wanted it they would pay...there is not a country in the western world that does not offer support to the infrastructure of artistic creation. Oh and we rank very, very poorly. That should make you pleased.


Sep 7, 2011 at 1:56pm

@blahblah: Not all art is commercial. Arguably, some of the best art is never sold. Commercial success is not an affirmation of artistic merit. Often it is more of a testament to the artist's skill at self-promotion. Sometimes they are found together, sometimes not. Art that sells is not necessarilty good art, just as food that sells is not necessarily good food. Think McDonalds. Good original art is often ahead of its time and not widely appreciated or commercially successful until long after the artist is dead and gone.