The bulk of the new $10-million arts legacy fund that B.C. Liberals promised in their March budget is earmarked for a new B.C. Spirit Festival Days, NDP MLA and culture critic Spencer Chandra Herbert says he has discovered.
Chandra Herbert said Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Kevin Krueger made reference to the new event at the recent launch of the Klahowya Village at the Stanley Park mini train. When he pursued the issue later with the minister, Chandra Herbert says he was told the new, multicommunity festival would launch in February 2011 and then take place over the next two years, drawing funds from the legacy money.
Pointing out that arts festivals were recently dropped from gaming funding, Chandra Herbert said: “It’s interesting because we have a number of good festivals that need support already. The government is speaking out of both sides of their mouth. They claim they support festivals [with this new event], and yet they don’t.”
Vancouver arts groups, who are reeling from severe cuts to gaming funding and a 50-percent slash to the B.C. Arts Council, have called for the $10 million to be distributed by the by the arm’s-length council.
“They’ve eviscerated the B.C. Arts Council by cutting them by 50 percent, they’ve decimated gaming funding. People just want stable funding for the arts, distributed by a jury process,” Chandra Herbert said.
“I hope these are not going to be government propaganda festivals,” he added, pointing out the festival will run in the three years that lead up to the next election.
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts did not provide the Straight with any details by deadline.