AABC Board member David Stewart has sent us this submission to the Budget Committee. The deadline for submissions is October 18. You can add your voice by sending us your submission.
October 4, 2012
Submission to Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services
I am writing on behalf of the British Columbia Choral Federation whose 200 member choirs represent some 6000 choral musicians, both amateur and professional. We were pleased that the British Columbia Government is again providing $16,831,000 to the BC Arts Council (BCAC) to support arts and culture in communities throughout the province during the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The BCAC grant to our organization totals $11,100 for the 2012-2013 fiscal year and we are assured of the same grant in 2013-2014. In addition we received $32,700 from gaming revenues. Added together these grants account for just under 20 per cent of our annual budget of $238,000. The balance of our revenues come from membership dues, an annual raffle, generous donations from many of our board members, workshop fees, and our flagship event, CHORFEST, which is held in a different BC community every year. So it must be said that we are pulling our weight in terms of keeping the Federation on a firm financial foundation.
However, I note with some dismay that British Columbia still holds 13th place among the provinces and territories in terms of per capita spending on Arts and Culture. Our province has held this questionable position for the better part of the last decade and I have not seen any effort on the part of the Provincial Government to do anything about it. British Columbia would have to double its per capita spending on arts and culture to come anywhere near the national average of $98 per person.
The arts are the foundation of a civil society. Furthermore it is arts and culture that determine the success of a society. “Those communities that are richest in their artistic tradition are also those that are the most progressive in their economic performance and most resilient and secure in their economic structure.” (Economist John Kenneth Galbraith.)
According to Statistics Canada, in 2003-4 (the last year for which comprehensive arts statistics have been published), with an investment of $7.7 billion from three levels of government, the arts and culture sector directly employed 600,000 people and generated $40 billion for the Canadian economy. That’s a return on investment of more than 500%. Approximately 25% of this gain goes directly back to tax revenue—which is more than the initial investment.
Conversely: If imbalance is allowed to disturb harmony in the relationship between the economic, social, and cultural dimensions of a society, that society will find itself degraded and will rapidly become unjust. (Creating a Policy for Arts and Culture in British Columbia – A Draft Proposal by Arts Advocacy BC)
Art occupies in society the equivalent of one of those glands the size of a pea on which the proper functioning of the body depends, and whose removal is as easy as it is fatal. (Cyril Connolly, The Condemned Playground)
Our recommendations to the 2012 Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services are as follows.
1. Continue to generously support arts and Cultural organizations, including heritage and community-based organizations, with arms-length public investment through the BC Arts Council; funding that is stable and sufficient to support the Council’s strategic plan.
2. Plan to double British Columbia’s per capita funding for arts and culture over the next two years to bring it up to at least the national average.
3. Provide support for training programs to develop the entrepreneurial and business skills in the arts and culture sector.
We strongly believe that arts and culture have a crucial part to play in the economic, social, environmental, health, and educational future of a British Columbia to ensure that it is, indeed, among the best places on earth.
David K. Stewart
President, British Columbia Choral Federation