The B.C. arts community is celebrating a victory of sorts with the restoration of $7 million in provincial funding to be administered independently by the B.C. Arts Council. The money had previously been designated for quasi-political "Spirit Festivals" that few arts organizations saw as a priority.
Arts advocates are cautiously optimistic that this money really will be administered without strings attached, even though the "independent" B.C. Arts Council is housed in the provincial government offices and relies on the Ministry of Tourism Culture and the Arts for its staff.
The $7 million brings the B.C. Arts Council's budget to $16 million, but still doesn't make up for other funding cuts by the B.C. Gaming Commission.
Uncertainties over future funding, the short deadlines, and nebulous terms for this new money — along with cutbacks in foundation and corporate grants — still leave many arts organizations gloomy and frustrated. Last month the chair of the B.C. Arts Council resigned over the B.C. Liberal government's cuts to the arts.