Wednesday, December 02, 2009

BC arts coalition keeps up pressure, buoyed by select committee recommendation against cuts

The campaign to reverse forthcoming British Columbia government arts cuts received a substantial boost recently when the legislature's standing committee on finance and government services unanimously recommended that funding be restored to 2008/09 levels. The recommendation was welcomed by a province-wide group of arts organizations, including magazine publishers, seeking to reverse the funds slashed so deep and unexpectedly in October. 
The chair of the standing committee, Liberal MLA John Les, said in a Nov. 13 Vancouver Sun story that the government isn't apologizing for the cutbacks which he said were “hard decisions that we frankly took no pleasure from” during a tough year for the economy. But he said the MLAs on the committee were saying clearly that the money should be restored in the future.
The chair of the BC Arts Council, Jane Danzo, reported the recommendation to her members in a release. The council itself saw funding radically cut from $8.3 million in 2008/09 to $3.4 million in 2009/10, and projected to drop to $1.5 million for 2010/11 and 2012. 

Of more concern to the magazine and book sector were the 100% cuts unexpectedly announced in October by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Arts to the B.C. Association of Magazine Publishers (BCAMP), the Association of Book Publishers of BC and BC Bookworld.
Immediately there sprang up the Coalition for the Defence of Writing and Publishing in B.C., with more than 600 members and concentrating on two key messages: 1) restore the funding to the three key organizations whose funding has been eliminated; 2) stabilize funding for the B.C. Arts Council at the 2008/09 level of $19.5 million.

That pressure will be kept up, says the coalition. While the standing committee's statement carries some weight in consultations towards the March 2010 provincial budget, the government has not indicated it accepts the advice. 
Rodger Touchie, president of the Association of Canadian Publishers says the cuts  "leave a stain on the province’s reputation that may be hard to remove."



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