Alma Lee to Premier Campbell, 'What are you thinking?'
Image by Alma Lee, CM, D.Litt (Hon)
What are you thinking, buddy?
For a refreshing breath of sanity and sass on the BC arts cuts disaster, check out the open letter by Alma Lee, BC Arts Council appointee and Vancouver Writers & Readers Festival founder, to Premiere Gordon Campbell on the drastic cuts (92 percent) to provincial arts funding and the recanting of BC Gaming Commission grants to support arts in British Columbia.
What are you thinking?
You are a cultured man who is an avid reader and supporter of cultural events. What happened to your vision of BC becoming the most literate province in the country?
What sort of Philistines are working with you in cabinet? Obviously they have no idea of what arts and culture bring to our lives and to the economy of this province. Stating that the government is going to focus on poverty doesn’t cut it – many artists live on or below the poverty line.
You, Premier Campbell, appointed me to sit on the BC Arts Council. I was honoured to receive that appointment and I and my colleagues worked very hard to increase the core funding to the Council. All that was gained in the end was an endowment that today is realizing less than two percent, and it seems as though even that may be going on the block.
I now I feel that six years of my life and my own creative energy were wasted.
Please, I beg of you, stop this budget slashing before it’s too late.
So the arts community is reduced to begging now?
Just to get you caught up: Earlier last month, 100 percent of the gaming grants that were committed to the arts sector were pulled, even after letters promising that money for three years had already been sent out and organizations had already committed programming based on the (admittedly paultry) grants.
"What is more unsettling for our sector as a whole," writes Alliance for Arts and Culture executive director Amir Ali Alibhai's September 24 submission to the Vancouver City Council, "is the seemingly drastic cut of 85% that the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture has revealed for 2010/11 and 92% for 2011/12 in their Service Plan. ... The economic, social, health, and educational benefits to our communities created by investing in arts and culture, by all levels of government, are well documented and supported."
As Kate Armstrong writes, considering the contribution to the economy of arts in this province, now is the worst time for such cuts: A study commissioned by the BC Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts entitled, Socio-Economic Impacts of Arts and Cultural Organizations in B.C. found that for every dollar invested in the arts, between $1.05 and $1.36 in provincial tax revenues is generated. Not that you can read the report yourself, as the Straight reveals the report has been stricken from the Ministry's website, as it was too "old."