A Letter from Mission
We have received this letter (below) from Francis Xavier Edwards of the Mission Folk Music Festival. We wonder how many municipalities and organization have been treated to a similar surprise. As you can see from Minster Chong’s letter to us, she’s revealing no secrets. In spite of the Minister’s earlier statement that there are always more applications than money, it seems that there were no applications for the $3.25 million fund that she has dispersed. This was Olympic Legacy Money that, in our opinion, should have gone to the BC Arts Council. As far as we can see, the Minister’s decisions are arbitrary, based upon who-knows-what. On the other had, we couldn’t help but notice that in the last election Liberal Marc Dalton (Maple Ridge-Mission) won his seat with 8802 votes over NDP candidate Mike Bocking’s 8734 votes, a difference of only 68 votes! Not that $75,000 is going to influence any voters come next May, but …
Hello Tom, John, Arts Advocacy BC,
At a meeting to discuss the 25th anniversary of the Mission Folk Music Festival last Friday, I was stunned to learn that the District of Mission just received $75,000 from Ida Chong’s office to be used for “cultural” purposes, apparently to celebrate a milestone civic anniversary.
The money is from the $3.25 million discretionary fund held by Ida Chong for Arts and Culture. It appears it has been used at the last minute, with seemingly no process and little thought about where and how the money is used. I was told that no one in the District of Mission applied for the money!
So, why Mission? Apparently, it has something to do with the 120th anniversary of the city. Who decided this and on whose behalf? It is not really a milestone year (100 years, or 125, but 120?) and is certainly odd in a time when culture is under such funding pressure. It is even more than odd when the District didn’t even apply for the money. The cheque just showed up in the mail!
The Mission Folk Music Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In the past three years it has seen the BC Arts Council chopped to pieces, grants to arts organizations slashed, and a drain of arts professionals from this Province. The festival struggles to find adequate funds to operate. It received $16,000 from the BC Arts Council this year for Operating Assistance. The application process is rigorous, the reporting and accounting strenuous. Then, money just pops up for “cultural purposes” in the District’s mail without any application process. This is plain chaos! It makes no sense. It undermines the work of the festival and other arts groups. It is an inappropriate use of funds, of taxpayers’ money, and a callous slap in the face to arts and cultural groups, the communities they work in, and the many volunteers who contribute hours, skills and resources to these groups.
This is very, very disturbing. It is wrong.
I have read quotes from the minister saying the funds were for contingency, for emergency. Certainly, the plight of the BC Touring Council losing its funding from Canadian Heritage is an emergency. Instead of seeing the obvious and providing genuine support where needed, we are getting a bunch of birthday parties for which there is no application and adjudication process. The money is just being given away.
I would like to see the money go directly to the BC Arts Councils where it can be administered in an appropriate way and where an accountable process is in place.
I would also like to know where the balance of the 3.2 million has gone.
Recommended Action: I am convinced the arts community needs to speak out strongly with a statement to the media condemning the actions of Minister Ida Chong in doling out millions of dollars of Arts and Culture money without consultation or communication with the arts community and doing so at a time of restraint, cutbacks, and difficult challenges; when arts and cultural organizations are struggling to operate and some ceasing operations. There is no place for private funds for the minister to dole out to community birthday parties.
I would love to hear from you about this, with any suggestions on how to proceed, who to talk to, and how to get this media statement together.
Yours, Francis Xavier Edwards
Mission Folk Music Festival
Mission, British Columbia
Canada, V2V 4J3
604 820 0088