The Face of BC Arts Cuts

It’s now been about four months since our community experienced a huge upheaval: major cuts to our funding in the arts and non-profit sector. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I’ve written about this topic extensively, passing along the word about rallies, protests, etc.

Today’s post is not about any of those things. I feel like we’ve been talking about BC Arts Cuts in more general terms: Presentation House Theatre, for example, one of my clients, has lost $38,000. That is a sizable chunk of change for a small organization, but how does it play out?

Meet Vanessa Melle. I did, last week, for coffee, in Gastown. Vanessa’s young–in her twenties–and just got laid off from her first “real” arts administration job: Director of Communications for Out on Screen. She lost her job as a direct result of BC Arts Cuts.

Here’s Vanessa:

I was the Director of Communications for Out on Screen, an organization that produces the Queer Film Festival and gives anti-homophobia presentations in high schools using independent film. The cuts to the Direct Access Gaming Grants left us with a $25,000 deficit and as we head into a new year we anticipate a further reduction to government grants by as much as $50,000. As a fiscally prudent and responsible organization, to ensure that our programs can weather the devastating arts cuts still to come, Out on Screen made the decision to lay off myself and another part-time staff member. It was a dream job and I will most likely have to go on EI before I find another one.

Gordon, Campbell, if you’re reading, I just wanted to let you know: by cutting funding to the arts, you are taxing the system by causing people to have to go on EI.

I have one more for you.

Recently, the City of Vancouver decided to close the Blodel Conservatory and the petting zoo at Stanley Park. It is my belief that this is because the Olympics are causing huge cost overruns, and the City has to figure out some way to make up that deficit. The Blodel Conservatory costs only about $400,000 to keep open. And closing the Blodel will have an effect on another young company that I work with: ITSAZOO Productions. Their biggest show of the year for the past two years is an annual, outdoor, promenade-style show that regularly sells out because it’s fun and takes advantage of a beautiful park setting in the middle of the summer.

Here’s Chelsea, one of the Artistic Directors:

If the Bloedel Conservatory closes ITSAZOO will no longer be able to perform in Queen Elizabeth Park. If any of you have seen and/or been involved with one of our outdoor summer shows in the park and you know how magical they are. It would be a great loss for us as well as for the community if we were no longer able to do this. It would also be a great loss for all of Vancouver, for many reasons, if the Bloedel Conservatory were to be closed down.

Chelsea asks that folks send an email to the mayor at [email protected], asking him to please not shut down the Blodel.

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For more information on what you can do to help restore arts funding, click here.

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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.

Comments 4

  1. I’m in the same boat at Vanessa. I was hired on with the Vancouver Fringe Festival as their Communications Coordinator and my contract was originally supposed to be a year long, but because of the arts cuts, my contract has been shortened. And, again, like Vanessa, this my my first “real” arts admin job.

    When my job ends, I’ll go back on EI, have to go on interest relief because I won’t be able to afford my loan payments, and I’ll have to look for arts related work outside of BC. I’m not sure how this is supposed to “help” the economy.

    I’ve become quite engaged in the protests and have ongoing conversations with many of BC’s MLAs. I also ended up speaking at the Finance Committee’s hearings. At this point, all I feel I can do is hope that the government reconsiders.

  2. I just started a blog leading up to the Olympics, discussing my personal conflict between the merits of Amateur sports and independant Arts in Canada. I would love to open a further dialogue with you about this.
    -Jamie Robinson

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