BC budget increases funding for arts and culture

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The NDP BC Budget 2018 announcement willcarve a new path to shared prosperity for everyone in our province with a made-in-BC child care plan, a comprehensive housing plan, and record levels of capital investment in every corner of our province,” Finance Minister Carole James announced February 27.

The latter includes an investment to the BC Arts Council budget of $5 million annually over the next three years, for a $15 million total investment, is definite cause for celebration. As one participant asked at the BC Arts Council’s post-budget announcement meeting, “Where’s the champagne?”

This funding announcement caused a buzz in BC creative non-profit circles, but advocates hope it’s just the beginning. Brenda Leadlay, executive director of the BC Alliance, said, “This increase, while certainly not a doubling of the BC Arts Council budget [the NDP promised to do over four years] is a great start. It speaks to the advocacy work we’ve done, but we must continue to work together to become an even stronger voice so that we can eventually get the increase we were promised.”

Leadlay suggested that BC creative community should strike a committee focused on a creative vision for future development and community engagement. According to Leadlay, it is imperative that this committee reach across every region of the province, to both rural and urban areas, and include underserved artists and arts organizations of every stripe. A broad reach would ensure a more comprehensive itemization of where government support is most needed.

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services also recommended increased funding to Creative BC (an organization funded by the provincial government to assist the arts sector) to expand the capacity of the BC Film Commission, renew the BC Music Fund, and provide programs to support BC’s domestic film, television, digital, and other creative industries. This is a positive initiative for those seeking employment in television and film sectors.

Other areas of arts and culture to receive increases are as follows:

  • $50 million in funding to the First Peoples’ Cultural Council to support the revitalization of Indigenous languages.
  • $3 million increase to Creative BC.
  • $6 million increase to Aboriginal Friendship Centres.

The BC Government stated they are committed to implementing the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Call to Action 79 calls for historical commemoration activities, and recognition and acknowledgment of the contributions that Indigenous Peoples have made to Canada’s history” (NDP Budget 2018 report, 137.)

Budget 2018 responds to these identified areas, promising to provide $23.9 million over five years, beginning in 201819, to Parks Canada for the integration of Indigenous views, history, and heritage into the national parks, marine conservation areas, and historic sites managed by that agency.

Click here for the Budget 2018 report.