Kate Armstrong: GOT CULTURE? Um, actually no
mtippett | September 16, 2009 at 01:10 pmby
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Kate Armstrong takes on the Provincial Government over their brutal cuts to the arts.
B.C. Liberal government has cut funding for arts and cultural organizations by 50 percent this fiscal year, and by 92 percent for 2010–11.
Imagine a 92 percent reduction in your company’s income. How would your industry fare if that was implemented across the board?
The numbers are like this: 47.8 million (2008) down to 3.75 million (2010-2011)
Reasons This Makes No Sense Economically:
• B.C.’s arts and culture sector employs more than 78,000 people and contributes over $5 billion each year to the provincial economy
• Yes, billion.
• The B.C. government’s own research has demonstrated that for every dollar invested in the arts, $1.38 comes back in taxes
• Contrast this move with the response to financial downturn in Ontario: Ontario increased their core arts spending by approximately 130 million in this year’s budget
How Does This Affect You?
• Arts foundations, non-profits and galleries will close or reduce their programming or services. Example: Between the announcement Friday, August 28 and Wednesday, September 3, 2009, 2 Vancouver galleries have announced that they are being forced to close their doors.
• Creative people will leave B.C. in droves
• Drastically reduced opportunities for cultural exposure in the province for yourselves and your children
• Huge damage to the reputation of B.C. - do you want to live in and bring up your children in a cultural wasteland? Was there a reason you chose to live in a city and not in a closet?
• Everything you attend, view, take your children to, or see in a cultural framework is partly subsidized by provincial infrastructure. Arts Umbrella? Children’s Festival? Vancouver Art Gallery? Gallery openings? Ballet BC? BYE!
• Artists are not spending their time at champagne soirees at the taxpayer’s expense. Artists are among the most underpaid professions in our society.
• Culture is an industry, not something that just “happens”. You’re thinking of people who make pictures of owls using bottle caps.
• Not a hobby. Don’t argue that running the Children’s Festival or arranging an international visual art exhibition is something we’re supposed to do in our spare time.
• Artists are not “fancy”. Art is a hugely important part of our shared culture. Were the cave paintings fancy? Do you like written language? Have you ever seen a movie or worn a nice shirt or walked through a public space?
• You cannot argue that the cultural sector must be commercially viable or die. A huge amount of heavy lifting in terms of ideas, social good and cultural visioning is performed by the creative industries and this does not neatly align with commercial engagement.
• These grants we’re talking about do not entirely pay for the operations of these cultural associations so forget the word “parasite” when you make your economic argument. They represent a small but crucially important portion of total support and income.
• Art is not about artists, it is about communities and culture.
• This discussion is not only art, it is dance, film, heritage, publishing, media, sound, music, design, theatre, social outreach, community festivals.
• People in these industries work hard, have jobs and have families too, and are already underpaid.
• A healthy arts sector is essential for healthy communities.
The idea that this is about supporting art vs feeding needy children is a shell game. We need to do both.
If you have any interesting in preserving some basic quality of life in BC, you really should read the whole piece. It's here.
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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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