BC Provincial Budget: impacts for arts education in BC?

So how does  the March 2 budget announcement impact  BC community music schools and other arts training organizations in our province? At first blush this is difficult to tell. The press release from the  Alliance for Arts and culture is indicating today’s budget is somewhat of an improvement over what many of us feared was going to happen, which was a 90% reduction in arts funding for this province. However, the Premier has still ignored his own MLA’s and the recommendations of his own finance committee. Something like 30 million dollars in arts funding has been announced, but when compared to the funding levels our sector enjoyed a year ago, when by the way we were already the least funded province in Canada (look for that report elsewhere on this blog) – well we have less funds now than ever before. See the table below (reproduced from the Alliance article linked to above):

Looking at the numbers above, projections for 2010/11 represent a reduction of about 33% in funding resources from 2008/09. It may be a shell game though as other sources indicate a 50% reduction in available funds for the arts as the accounting process of what programs are classified under which heading have all been changed.

The quote below is from a Budget document, dated March 2, 2010. entitled Backgrounder – A renewed emphasis on Sports and Arts”

The other $30 million of the 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy will enhance opportunities forall British Columbians in the arts, including participation in music, theatre, visual arts, danceand digital media. Programs may include:

• Regional events that reflect the diversity of communities and include multi-disciplinary arts presentations and performances by artists and performers in various communities,with a possibility of showcasing in larger centres.

• Developing community cultural initiatives by supporting ideas for local employment with the potential for internships, mentorships, and collaboration to enhance local cultural development.

• Developing new arts or cultural product idea “incubators” (digital media, for example) to generate economic benefits. By integrating creative ideas in education and business and with the appropriate nurturing, ideas could become commercialized within a specified time frame.

The programs are still under development and eligibility criteria will be finalized in the coming weeks.

So “by integrating creative ideas in education and business and with the appropriate nurturing, ideas could become commercialized within a specified time frame” This sounds to me like start up funds for new commercial projects, not ongoing commitment to sustained long term programming? As well all of these “programs are still under development and eligibility…” still to be finalized. So what departments, programs and ministries are going to manage all of this?

According to CFAX news 1070, Cheryl Ziola, executive director of the BC Charitable Gaming Association describes it this way:

I don’t think charities will be jumping up and down with glee any time soon. In fact, the numbers speak for themselves you’re looking at about a 55 million dollar gaming cut for funding for charities from last year. For example, if you look at sports, they are going to see a 6.1 million dollar cut and arts will see a 12.1 million dollar cut. So as I say, not good news and when you think about the Olympics legacy that touted the environmental sports and cultural legacies, what are the kids going to do in the future if the funding to those groups is going to be cut? Where is the legacy then?” 

So we shall have to see how this all unfolds over the next few weeks. If anyone has any further information to add, please post comments to this article.

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