Province’s reversal on gaming grants raises more questions than answers

From the Georgia Strait , September 3, 2009

Arts groups in B.C. are still not breathing easy following the province’s sudden about-face regarding multiyear Direct Access gaming grants September 2.

Although Minister of Housing and Social Development Rich Coleman has confirmed all multiyear gaming grants will be honoured, questions and confusion remain over current B.C. Arts Council grants, future arts funding, and support for organizations without multiyear gaming grant commitments.

Coleman has been reported stating that another $30 million in grants has been approved, $15 million of which has already been committed, but it is unclear where that money is going. While 540 community organizations—not all necessarily arts groups—will receive their multiyear gaming commitments, those who have survived for years on a year-to-year basis will likely not receive anything from gaming this year or next, according to NDP Culture Critic Spencer Herbert.

“We’ll probably hear an announcement or see another letter or something in the next two or three days,” Herbert told the Straight. “Maybe some of it will go to a couple of arts and culture groups, but I’m not holding my breath, given what Coleman said again and again in the media: ‘This is not for those other groups, this is just for the three-year [commitments].'”

There are hundreds of arts groups throughout the province without multiyear funding commitments. They include the Canadian Music Centre, which has received $20,000 annually for a number of years; musica intima, which was expecting $11,000; the Vancouver Cantata Singers, which were expecting $27,000; and Intrepid Theatre in Victoria, which historically has received at least $20,000 a year, and is in the midst of presenting its 23rd annual Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival. The Alliance for Arts and Culture, which normally receives $35,000 a year from gaming, was also denied its funding.

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