Former B.C. Arts Council chair Jane Danzo speaks out

The former chair of the B.C. Arts Council has slammed the government for provincial cuts that are hobbling arts groups. She is also speaking out about the Liberals’ lack of support for the council.
Jane Danzo, who left her post on August 11, told the Straight she resigned the position she held for a year to protest the provincial government’s lack of consultation with the B.C Arts Council and its slashing of core funding.
“It was a very difficult decision but I thought I could probably effect more change by stepping down than I could by staying,” Danzo, past president of Pacific Opera Victoria, told the Straight. “The main factor was that the council was challenged in what it was mandated to do.”
In her letter of resignation to Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Kevin Krueger, Danzo criticized cabinet’s refusal to take its the legislature committee on finance and governmental affairs’ recommendation, in November 2009, to restore arts funding to ’08/09 levels. Instead, in their spring budget, the Liberals axed the funding the B.C. Arts Council hands out to groups by an estimated 50 percent, from around $14 million to about $8 million.
Danzo also expressed dismay that the government refused to consult the B.C. Arts Council when it established a new $10 million Arts Legacy Fund, despite its cuts to core operating grants. Her letter states: “Even after the announcement, the Board was not consulted for input, nor was it permitted to know the details as they were developed by ministry staff over a four month period. Meanwhile, the arts community struggled, some members with life-threatening uncertainty, as they reduced their programming, laid off staff, and made poignant appeals to patrons and donors for further support.”

When asked what she thought of the new B.C. Spirit Festivals that the government has set up with $3 million of the Legacy fund, Danzo replied: “The lack of consultation was extremely frustrating. I can see that the government would want to celebrate the success of the Cultural Olympiad—we all enjoyed it—but a lot of that talent was made possible through arts funding and through the organizations that allow people to show their art. So if I was going to consider something as a legacy, I would rather see a large portion of that go to the core funding in order to sustain those organizations.”
She added that, if there were money left over, it would be better invested in something like the B.C. Renaissance Fund, a $25-million program launched in 2005 to stimulate endowment funding. By 2009, said Danzo, it had raised about $25 million more in matching funding.

Read the article – Georgia Straight   August 18, 2010

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