Culture groups in the dark on provincial funding

The Tri-Cities’ arts and culture groups are wondering what will happen to their funding after the provincial government released new rules for its gaming grants program.
Last week, the province announced changes to funding guidelines, saying grants would go to programs that involve “active youth participation.” Programs where youth are only part of the audience are not eligible, according to the Ministry of Housing and Social Development.
Dan Mattinson of Coastal Sound Music Academy said the group applied for a grant but he isn’t not banking on it.
“Who knows?” he said. “We’ve got our fingers crossed like everyone else.”
Coastal Sound involves kids and youth in their leadership and mentoring programs but classes are taught by professional music teachers. “It is a bit baffling,” Mattinson said. “I have yet to hear an explanation that clears it up for me.”
Last fall, Coastal Sound learned it would not be getting the $75,000 annual gaming grant it had counted on. Mattinson said the generosity of members, the board and the artistic team saved it from financial ruin.
Programs and staff were cut and enough donations came in that Coastal Sound will end this year debt-free. Now, the group’s the administration is compiling next year’s budget — without the gaming grant.

Johanne Dumas, executive director for the Société Francophone de Maillardville, said the society had to lay off three employees last year after losing its Festival du Bois grant.
She said she has heard a different set of rules are guiding the grants process; an event or festival has to be a “mirror of that community,” like the Peachland harvest festival, to win a grant.
Festival du Bois’ celebration of Coquitlam’s francophone heritage seems to fit the bill but Dumas isn’t sure.
“I’m just as nervous as any other person,” she said. “It’s been a nightmare. The monies are not falling from the sky for no one.”
She’s trying to cut costs for the 2011 festival but, with most francophone performers located in the east, it’s proving a significant challenge.
“I’m not going to pretend that we all eat, sleep and breath the arts,” Dumas said, “but it’s time for officials to stop thinking about arts and culture as fluff.”
Other Tri-City groups are secure, for now, because their three-year grant commitments are being honoured.
Helen Daniels, executive director of ArtsConnect, said her group is already looking into other potential funding sources to replace its $28,000 grant starting next year. – Culture groups in the dark on provincial funding

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