The artistic and managing director of Headlines Theatre wrote a blunt letter today (August 19) to Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Kevin Krueger about the impact of B.C. government's approach to funding the arts.
"The devastation of current funding cuts is creating permanent damage in what used to be a healthy community," David Diamond stated in the letter. "Very recently, however, the difficulty over funding cuts has escalated into a deep concern for our eroding democracy."
Diamond added that he is "grateful" to former B.C. Arts Council chair Jane Danzo "for the courage, commitment, and integrity it took for her to resign, in order to be able to speak openly about the relationship between government and arts funding".
"The alarm bell she is ringing about the lack of consultation, erosion of a sacred arm-length policy, and the inexplicable history of the government ignoring the advice of its own bipartisan Standing Committee on Finance to restore arts funding is essential," he wrote.
Diamond pointed out that even though the government has engaged in deep cuts to the arts, Krueger managed to find $30 million in "Legacy funding" over three years for the arts.
The Headlines Theatre founder urged Krueger to turn this money over to the B.C. Arts Council with "no strings attached".
"Throughout history, when governments have tried to control the content of cultural expression, whether from a left or a right ideology, societies have suffered terribly," Diamond stated. "All of us must be vigilant."
To reinforce this point, he noted that the B.C. Arts Council's logo used to read "supported by the Province of British Columbia". It now states that it is "an agency of the Province of British Columbia".
"Someone decided to change the letterhead and it must have happened as part of an ideological shift regarding the purpose of the BC Arts Council and the artistic expression it has facilitated," Diamond wrote. "We appear to have entered a frightening time in BC and all of us need to pay attention. The IS how the fragility of democracy erodes. It is a very slippery slope."
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.