Massive turnout at Press Conference in support of Spencer Hebert

What a way to catch up with friends and colleagues.

The theatre community was well represented today at the press conference at Spencer Hebert’s downtown office. Many of them were my colleagues, friends, and clients. But it’s like meeting people you haven’t seen in ages a funereal: while you’re happy to see them and catch up with them, you’re sad that this is the occasion that brings you together.

So, to quickly summarize: The provincial government has promised arts and non-profit organizations money from its Gaming

Crowds spill out onto the sidewalk at the press conference today
Crowds spill out onto the sidewalk at the press conference today

revenue. What this means is, some of the money that they make (last year $1 Billion), from lotteries goes to non-profit and arts organisations. Some theatre companies have mult-year agreements, to the tune of $40,000 per year, for three years. This is money that they have signed a contract for with the government, and are counting on to produce shows. The money is already allocated.

In the case of some theatre companies, like Touchstone and Ruby Slippers, the money comes at the end of thier fiscal year. They made choices and spent with the knowledge that that money was coming. In the case of Touchstone, the result is that they are now facing an unprecedented (in their 35 years) deficit, because thier season is over, but they were expecting that money, which is now not coming.

I think a lot of the outrage is because of this. In the arts, we are used to having little, and to making our work on a shoestring. What is making people so angry is that this is money that they were assured they would be getting, and it is now being taken back.

If someone did something like that in the corporate world, they would be immediately sued.

The devastation is wide-spread. I don’t know of too many theatre companies in Vancouver who have not been affected. At the press conference, I spoke to the ADs of Touchstone, Ruby Slippers, Leaky Heaven Circus and Theatre Terrific, all of whom I worked for last season, all of whom are facing massive cutbacks. Presentation House is affected, but Full Figure has not yet heard.

Deb Pickman, whose Shameless Hussy Theatre company goes into rehearsals tomorrow for their latest production, Frozen, has said that the three company members (herself included) will be forced to forgo their salaries as a result of the cuts, and tour planned and advertised for the fall may have to be cut if they can’t make up the shortfall. Carol Higgins of Carousel Theatre recently posted on Facebook about how she was going to make up for the shortfall.

At this moment, I don’t know if my own work will be directly impacted, but it certainly will impact the theatre community as a whole, and future contracts will certainly be affected.

Vancouver Sun story

Global TV story

CTV story

The Province, Aug 31

A facebook group has sprung up called Organizing Against Campbell’s Cuts to the Arts.

Alliance for Arts and Culture
ARTS COMMUNITY MEETING

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
1 pm to 3 pm
Museum of Vancouver
1100 Chestunut Street

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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