The New Democrats have pledged to add $5 million to the budget of the B.C. Arts Council, a provincial agency that provides grant funding to cultural groups.
B.C. NDP arts critic Spencer Chandra Herbert said the proposal would see the council’s annual budget increased to $29 million over the next three years from $24 million.
“I think it demonstrates our support for the creative economy and is consistent with what I’ve been saying as critic for years now which is that the arts create jobs, they’re good for community cohesion, and we need to support them more in the province of B.C.,” Chandra Herbert told the Straight.
“Certainly the arts community’s been clear about this and the advocacy and attention we’ve heard from the community has helped us to get to this position.”
Chandra Herbert said the additional funding is accounted for in the fiscal plan the NDP has released to support its campaign platform proposals.
That plan calls for running a provincial deficit and income-tax increases for corporations and high earners, among other measures.
Asked about the rationale behind the $5-million increase, Chandra Herbert said: “Going through the books there is only so much money that you can find and we thought that would make a noticeable difference.”
If elected, he said, an NDP government would let the “arms-length” B.C. Arts Council and arts community determine how to allocate the additional funds.
“They know better where the funds will have the best impact than a politician, I’d argue,” he said.