B.C. Liberal Budget Fails Creative Sector
VICTORIA – With their latest budget, the B.C. Liberals are breaking their election promises on arts and culture, and failing to recognise the importance of investing in a creative economy, New Democrat culture and arts critic Spencer Herbert said today.
“It’s clear that yesterday’s budget showed the B.C. Liberals place no value on creating jobs and opportunities in B.C.’s arts, culture and heritage industries,” said Herbert, the MLA for Vancouver-West End. “They failed to deliver a long-term strategy that would see an investment in cultural spending and strengthen a healthy creative economy.”
This year’s budget slashed the B.C. Arts Council’s Budget by more than 50 per cent from pre-election numbers and cut gaming grants for arts and culture by approximately 50 per cent. The cuts are compounded by an earlier round of cuts last year that saw strong pushback from the creative community.
“During the past two weeks British Columbians and visitors from all over the world experienced not just the Olympic Winter Games, but also the music, dance, theatre and visual arts events of the Cultural Olympiad,” said Herbert. “British Columbians were hoping the B.C. Liberals would recognize the substantial economic benefits and overwhelming public support for cultural events, but this budget sends a clear message that they still do not.”
Herbert says the government’s continued failure to recognize the economic benefits of the creative sector is most evident in their gross disregard for the recommendations of the bi-partisan Standing Committee on Finance, which recommended a reinstatement of cultural funding to 2008 levels. The Committee noted that for every dollar invested in the arts generates a return of $1.36.
“B.C.’s creative industry will play a paramount role in B.C.’s economic recovery. It’s a fundamental part of the equation to building a strong, vibrant and sustainable future, yet this government’s support for culture continues to fall to record low levels, leaving B.C. at the very back of the pack.”
Last November, Statistics Canada put a report that showed for 2006-07, B.C. had the second-lowest provincial per-capita funding for culture and ranked last in the country when spending by all levels of government on culture were accounted for.
“Yesterday, we had hoped to see a budget with smart investments to secure our recovery and create jobs,” said Herbert. “Instead, we got cuts to vital public services and a new tax.”
Since last March, Arts and City Councils across the province have condemned the B.C. Liberals dramatic cuts to funding arts, culture and heritage. Carole James and New Democrats will continue to hold the B.C. Liberals to account for their broken promises while proposing alternatives to build a strong, modern and sustainable economy for all British Columbians.