Posted by: cindystephenson | October 23, 2009

Why invest in arts and culture?

Dancers

I’m a passionate supporter and patron of the arts. For years I’ve supported our local symphony and opera company as a subscriber. I’ve also attended many dance and voice recitals, live theatre, photography and art exhibits.

Arts and culture greatly enriches our society, supports critical thinking, provides us with social opportunities and like sports, keeps young people active and engaged.

It’s also a powerful economic force – creating jobs and supporting other sectors. A BC government report on the socioeconomic impact of the arts found that:

  • every dollar the province invests in the BC Arts Council returns up to $1.36 in tax revenue, and that
  • for every three jobs in the arts, one additional job is created in another sector.

In BC, the amount spent on arts and culture is relatively small – an estimated one-twentieth of one percent of the total provincial budget. Others have described it as the lowest per capita of any province in the country.

Yet this funding goes a tremendous way:

  • Arts organizations use it as “seed money” to leverage federal funding, foundation grants, and private donations.
  • This funding also helps to ensure access to arts and culture continues to be available and remains affordable.

Many jurisdictions are reeling as a result of the current economic crisis.  Yet I was shocked to learn that BC is the only province to cut investment in the arts – all other provinces, along with the Federal and US governments, have at least maintained, and in many cases increased, funding as a stimulus measure.

And the latest budget update shows funding for the arts in BC will be cut by 85% next year.

However, it’s not too late to urge the government to reconsider this move and restore some stability to British Columbia’s vital arts and culture community.

If you believe, as I do, that we all benefit when government invests in arts and culture, please join me in helping to keep this issue front and centre.

Share your views with community leaders, contact your MLA, and seek out opportunities to speak to local media.

Photo credit: restoncharlie

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