The province’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services has recommended that arts funding be made a high priority in the 2011/12 budget. The bipartisan committee, which has been conducting hearings throughout the province since September 15, released its recommendations today.
For the second year in a row, the committee called on the province to return arts funding to 2008/09 levels. It also recommended that eligibility criteria for community gaming grants be revisited, and that the government reinstate gaming grants for three years to provide stability.
The Alliance for Arts and Culture’s executive director Amir Ali Alibhai said that while he welcomed the recommendations, a return to the 2008/09 B.C. Arts Council budget of $19 million would still leave the province in last place when it comes to arts funding. (In fact, in 2008, the committee had recommended increasing the B.C. Arts Council’s budget to $32 million.)
“Although they’re high compared to what we have now, they’re still the lowest in the country,” he pointed out. He was more enthusiastic about the recommendations regarding gaming grant eligibility. “That’s the more significant,” he said. “Those eligibility criteria have prolonged the hard times for the sector.” He also noted that the committee made “really strong recommendations last year, and they weren’t followed, so I don’t know what the outcome will be.”