Cuts to the arts sector affects: Real Jobs; Real Families; The Real Economy.
We saw in the last federal election how Quebec artists inspired the public and turned out in record numbers to protect culture.
In February’s budget, the BC government announced that investment in the BC Arts Council was being cut drastically. While supplementary funds were found to maintain the government’s investment for the current year, arts groups around the province are looking at a reduction in government funds of 40% in 2010 and 2011.
Funding the Arts is not a handout; it’s an investment. The Arts are a $5.2-billion dollar industry in this province, accounting for more than 80,000 jobs. One out of every 28 workers in the province is engaged in the cultural sector. Arts organizations are experts at leveraging provincial support into funding from other levels of government, private and corporate sources, and admission fees. And funding to the Arts has proven to be a wise return on investment over the years, producing tax revenue far more than it receives in provincial funding: even if that $5.2-billion industry returns a conservative 7% in tax revenue, the province is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars for a small, but vital, outlay that amounts to 0.03% of the government’s planned expenditures – that’s 1/20th of a cent out of each dollar the government spends. Cutting that investment simply makes no business sense.
And consider the personal cost. BC has the highest concentration of artists in the country. Many of those artists live close to the poverty line: the average income for an artist in Canada is $22,700—less than two-thirds the Canadian average. A reduction in funding—especially in a recessionary period when other sources of revenue are drying up—will mean fewer performances, fewer concerts, fewer showings…and fewer jobs. It will be hardest on arts organizations in smaller centres that don’t have access to the same sources of funding as the larger centres.
With the May 12th provincial election coming up very quickly, it’s important to drive home the message that arts and culture do matter.
Here were a few ways to get involved:
1. Contact your candidate: Find out if they understand the needs of their community. Remind them that the lives of their constituents are transformed by the arts; and that many of their constituents work in the arts. As Finance Minister Colin Hansen said in his budget speech, “The arts help to shape our vision of who we are. They bring to life the concept of culture, and — just as important — bring us together, entertain us, intrigue us, and challenge us intellectually.” The Alliance for Arts & Culture has prepared documents that provide talking points and possible questions.
If you want more information about specific ridings, contact the office at 604-681-3535.
2. Tell your story: Write a letter to the editor in your local paper. Post a picture of your family to the Alliance website's photo wall. Or join in the postcard campaign! Postcard shells come three sizes: 3X5, 4X6, or 5X7. Just follow the simple instructions, print them out, and mail them in. Or, comment on the Alliance blog post about the election. That will be forwarded onto the candidates as the campaign heats up.
3. Attend a public event. There will be public debates happening throughout the province. Go and ask questions. For debates happening in Metro Vancouver areas, CARFAC BC has assembled a guide on the website.
4. Donate money to the ad campaign. Along with our provincial affiliates, PAARC is working with the Alliance to run a full-page ad in the Georgia Straight and across the province. Full page ads are very expensive, so we can use your help. To donate funds, email email@example.com or call 604-681-3535 and say you'd like to donate money to the provincial advocacy campaign.