NDP leadership candidate Nicholas Simons outlines his arts policy

NDP leadership hopeful Nicholas Simons has outlined an arts policy that includes restoring gaming grants to adult arts organizations and honouring the government’s 1999 memorandum of agreement with the B.C. Association of Charitable Gaming that pledges one-third of gambling revenues to the charitable sector.

“I think we need to restore the gaming grant funds to non-profits and charities,” Simons said in an interview today at the Straight offices. “That’s had a huge impact on the smaller groups throughout the province, festivals and museums. I’d like to see that 33.3 percent, which was basically promised to the people of the province when gambling was expanded, to go back to the arts and charities.”

Simons also expressed support for an arm’s-length B.C. Arts Council. “Other jurisdictions in the country have less connection between the direction of funding from government,” he said. “So what you want to have is an arts council that has the capacity to make decisions about the allocation of funds. Really, it requires some expertise. It requires some vision.”

Funding to the B.C. Arts Council should be restored to the 2008-2009 level of $19 million, said Simons, and should be increased beyond that figure. “I think it’s important to say the goal would be to restore funding to 2008, 2009 levels, but ultimately get us to a place where we’re not the lowest in all of Canada,” he said. According to figures from Statistics Canada, B.C.’s per capita spending on the arts sits at $6.54, compared to the most recently available national average of $26.73.

Simons tied the arts to the province’s regional development, noting: “How are we going to make sure that our communities remain healthy? I think part of helping them remain healthy is to ensure there are artist communities to attract people, and that our rural communities are attractive to professionals, to doctors, for example—if there are things to do, if there are activities to be involved in, if there’s a rich cultural mosaic they can be part of.”

Video of Simons’ interview, complete with a musical performance by the cello-playing MLA, will follow on the Straight website soon.



Donald Robb

Jan 20, 2011 at 11:32pm

I for one will pay attention to important issues the NDP has historically defended in words that translate a positive direction if elected. Along with heartening promises by Adrian Dix to restore Health Care, needed Educational funding and close scrutiny of massive Corporate giveaways by the previous Campbell lead Liberals. I think Nicholas strikes a note with adequate Arts funding, it certainly pays dividends as neibourhoods blossom that support the arts community.


Jan 21, 2011 at 1:22am

Very impressive. The only candidate so far who seems to understand not just how to support crucial charities and non-profits in communities, but who has a vision for a future culture and communication sector in BC - one of the biggest growing sectors in the global economy. Which candidates - or even parties - have understood this so far? All these old-school types hitching their wagons to moribund and non-green resource industries. Go Nick!


Jan 21, 2011 at 11:28am

It IS very encouraging to see a leadership candidate actually talking and writing about issues and setting the stage for intelligent policy development. We have had enough blah blah blah to sink Noah's Ark over the last several years. Hope other candidates take the lead from Nicholas.


Jan 22, 2011 at 10:54am

With the merciless criticism of the Liberals for the last decade on its expansion of gaming in the province, wouldn't the principled thing be to do be the reduction or elimination of gaming in the province?

Also, what is Nicholas' plan to backfill the money lost by this redirection of funds? Just giving the good news without the obviously related bad news is just cheap pandering. Blah, blah, blah. Same old, same old.

Gerry Kowalenko Vancouver

Jan 23, 2011 at 12:55am

Im getting quite impressed with Nicholas Simon as a candidate. As I said in an earlier Email, Ive heard him speak several times, he is well spoken, well informed, progressive, and respects the views of others, in felt welcomes them. I think hes quite well educated, has worked in government, and also importantly, has worked with and on behalf of First Nations communities. And he seems kind, and I think we need a bit more kindness and caring in government. As Ive said he's got my vote right now. Though I could be persuaded by something fascinating. Not that Ive seen much on issues so far in the NDP campaign.