After a disastrous week for the arts in British Columbia, this is all I’ve got, a photo of a ruined barn and some statistics.Read this entertaining set of facts about arts and arts workers, what they contribute to the economy, and some serious public misconceptions about the role of the arts. As Kate says in the link above:

Artists are not “fancy”. Art is a hugely important part of our shared culture. Were the cave paintings fancy? Do you like written language? Have you ever seen a movie or worn a nice shirt or walked through a public space?

I hate to make purely economic arguments for supporting the arts, because there are certainly enough compelling social ones, but it seems to be important to make them now. Facts: BC already has the lowest arts funding in Canada, and without warning that funding is reduced from last year’s 47 million to this year’s 19 million to next year’s 3.7 million. The province of Ontario, far more badly hit by recession than BC, increased its arts funding by 130 million this year, because they understand that that stimulus provides a huge proven return on their investment within one year, and that it is especially socially and economically smart in times like these. For every dollar given to the arts in BC, $1.36 is returned to the BC government in direct revenue. You can’t get better safe returns than that these days. Furthermore, when indirect returns and benefits are included, culture’s value-added return to the economy per dollar given is more like $6.00. But BC’s current government and its corporate pals doesn’t see it that way, because they don’t understand public spending. They’re stuck in the very neoclassical anti-regulation economics that have been discredited over and over again, most spectacularly by the recent economic crash. Hey, BC, while we’re at it, let’s dam all our rivers and send the power and water to the US! Let’s drill and put oil tankers down the coast! Let’s unregulate fish farms and contaminate all our wild salmon stock! Let’s allow U.S. seismic testing in whale reserves! The BC Liberals are living in outdated, primary resource extraction, cowboy times, and they’re trying to drag the rest of us back there with them. Recall!

If you’d like to join our Facebook group, it’s here. Want to write a letter? Addresses, fax nos. and sample letters are here. And if anyone knows Chad Kroeger, call him and tell him that Nickelback received massive BC and Canadian arts subsidies to get launched, so it’s time they spoke out and told all those anti-arts Nickelback fans in the Fraser Valley that they’re wrong.

Leave a comment