Friday, October 16, 2009

Some time last week BC Bookworld publisher Alan Twigg received a phone call from the Director of Arts & Culture at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts and was told that the provincial government would no longer fund his magazine. That same day, the Director made similar calls to the BC Publishers Association and the BC Magazine Publishers Association.

Although cuts such as these have been ongoing since the summer, this is the first I’ve heard of them coming from the Director of Arts & Culture, and not the BC Arts Council, where grants –- and cuts -- are traditionally vetted. That these latest cuts are coming from the office the BC Arts Council receives its budget from is chilling.

Apart from my dismay over these cuts, my biggest fear has always been the elimination of the BC Arts Council, an independent agency (of the Province of British Columbia) whose mandate is "to support the arts and cultural community by providing financial assistance, research, advocacy and public education.” If the provincial government is cutting funding to lobby and advocacy groups such as BC Bookworld, the BC Publishers Association and the BC Magazine Publishers Association, could the BC Arts Council be far behind?

Of course another view is that the Ministry expects the BC Arts Council to take up the slack. But is that feasible? Will the Director of Arts & Culture provide the BC Arts Council with the resources to do what these social profit groups have done for so many years -- or will the Director be taking that on too? That’s what I’d like to know.

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