Headlines Theatre's David Diamond warns Kevin Krueger about an eroding democracy

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      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."

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      Aug 19, 2010 at 4:08pm

      Do you not think that health care, education, and the welfare of children are the priorities?

      plen r gobbins

      Aug 19, 2010 at 4:49pm

      Why are all the neocons suddenly concerned about:

      "Do you not think that health care, education, and the welfare of children are the priorities?"

      Keith Higgins

      Aug 19, 2010 at 5:41pm

      If the government wants to spend millions of dollars to create celebratory spectacles ("B.C. Spirit Festivals") while taking away support from independent, often critical, arts events and organizations that emerge from our communities, they are wasting money, something that even people who are ideologically opposed to government support of culture should be able to recognize.

      Of course, if you think that art should be controlled by whatever party is in power, you might consider who you are aligning yourself with -- pretty much every totalitarian regime in history. Many people are coming to believe that this is simply Campbell and his supporters revealing their true colours, as anti-democratic would-be authoritarians. The B.C. Liberals have an opportunity to prove this wrong -- by reversing their disastrous, wasteful course of action.


      Aug 19, 2010 at 7:16pm

      wikipedia defines culture as: * The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group * Excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture * An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
      Music, dance, theatre, literature, history & and the many faces of what's labelled culture promote heath & well-being, develop both body & spirit and are vital to educate the mind. In fact we know that those who play music actually develop advanced neural networks.
      The old argument of pitting those things against 'survival' priorities is used to dumb us down and keep us unconscious, until we lose the capacity for critical thinking. Until we stop remembering that we would have no problem providing health, education, housing & food as well as a vibrant arts community if our priorities were in order to begin with. What's happening is frightening and intentional.

      frances wasserlein

      Aug 20, 2010 at 9:37am

      to Considering: have you any idea how small the arts funding budget is compared to the slice of your money and mine that goes to health, education, and the welfare of children [who are the most likely children to live in poverty in the whole country, so it's not going all that well]? this argument is one of those used to silence dissent. get the facts, and consider this: what would your life be like without artists and creators who give expression to your dreams and those of your children.

      Bill Horne

      Aug 20, 2010 at 11:37am

      David is right about the loss of democracy and accountability in BC. The cuts to arts funding, diversion of gaming funds and the politicization of "Legacy funding" & "Spirit" b.s. is very much in sync with what the BC govt did with Tourism BC.


      Aug 20, 2010 at 3:53pm

      Hey Considering...RIGHT ON!!!.. These people never seem to see past their own pocketbooks. They seem to think they are ENTITLED to money because they work with "the arts. "The arts" never fed anyone. "The arts" never saved a life (well, maybe - I'd love to hear that story). But all I hear is a bunch of people complaining about how the government isn't making their lives any better. Here's a thought... be responsible for you own self and quit expecting someone else to solve the problems you chose to take on. I'm not against the arts (hell, I even play a really bad guitar), I'm just against the government subsidizing every little "art" group or project that comes along. We've got much more important things to deal with.


      Aug 20, 2010 at 4:02pm

      Hey David Diamond, If you put on a production that doesn't sell enough tickets to fill the seats to recover the cost of production, THEN WHY SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZE YOU????? You can't create a product the public is willing to support, but you think the government should support you no questions asked. That would be very foolish of the government to waste money. But according to the thinking of the arts community, they should continuously get money to put on projects that aren't supported by the public. So the government isn't allowed to waste money, but you are. Nice double standard you got there. And really..."eroding democracy"? You're really stretching to get sympathy aren't you?


      Aug 20, 2010 at 4:06pm

      Hey Plen r gobbins, What's the problem? Is it wrong to consider health care, education, and the welfare of children before "the arts". You are really misguided. And I'm not a neo-con. Just someone who doesn't support stupid logic like yours.

      glen p robbins

      Aug 20, 2010 at 8:54pm

      In 1980 I promoted a Jan and Dean concert -- followed by my first annual Vancouver Ugly Man contest (sanctioned by Denise Donlon - former Much Music developer and then Feldman associate).

      I've got Krueger, Plant, de Jong and others penciled in as nominees for the 2011 revival--winner gets $500. They may need the money by then.