By Coralee Oakes
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
VICTORIA - Arts and culture thrive today in British Columbia. Cultural activities contribute to our economy and help our communities shine as great places to live, work, play and visit.
BC Arts and Culture Week, April 20-26, 2014, presents a great opportunity to celebrate British Columbia's talented artists, dynamic arts scene and vibrant cultural organizations in communities large and small, urban and rural, throughout the province.
British Columbia has the highest number of artists per capita in Canada. British Columbians enthusiastically support the arts. With just over 13% of the Canada's population, British Columbia accounted for nearly 16% of total attendance at arts performances nationally in 2012.
The B.C. government supports arts and culture too. Since 2001, we have provided artists, the arts and cultural organizations with over half a billion dollars - more than any other government in the history of British Columbia. This investment helped generate very positive results.
Arts and culture experienced a steady 3% growth in B.C. in annual real GDP from 2002 to 2007. In the same time period, employment in arts and culture grew to almost 4% of the provincial workforce. Employing almost 26,000 artists and 87,500 cultural workers, this sector contributed $6.344 billion to the provincial GDP in 2009.
This year the B.C. government is sustaining an investment of just over $60 million in arts and culture. The funding provides support across the spectrum of the arts, from the revered traditions of First Nations arts to contemporary, cutting-edge artists.
The BC Arts Council (BCAC) is the provincial government's key development and funding agency for the arts. Established in 1995, BCAC invests millions of dollars in annual funding from the B.C. government to support the arts, cultural organizations and individual artists in British Columbia.
Each year, BCAC approves about 1,000 grants benefiting recipients in over 200 B.C. communities. BCAC approves grants on a peer review basis. Artists and practitioners, not elected officials, evaluate the merits of grant applications, enabling council to approve grants independently, based primarily on artistic merit.
Again this year, BCAC is receiving $24 million from the B.C. government - a record-high level of funding. An impressive variety of cultural organizations receive BCAC grants annually, including community arts councils, art galleries, museums, orchestras, film societies, dance groups, theatres and publishing companies. These organizations range from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to local arts councils in B.C.'s small, rural communities.
BCAC provides many organizations with crucial operating support that helps keep their doors open for local residents and tourists. In addition, cultural festivals in British Columbia, including international events and much-loved local community celebrations, receive BCAC grants. Grant recipients range in scope from the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the largest annual cultural event in British Columbia, to celebrations organized by community-level arts groups.
A wide range of B.C. artists receive council grants, including writers, painters, playwrights, actors, musicians, composers, dancers, sculptors, video and media artists. Many artists in British Columbia enjoy opportunities for employment, training and professional development through organizations that receive BCAC support, including ArtsBC, BC Touring Council, ArtStarts in Schools and Arts Umbrella.
British Columbia is blessed by a wealth of First Nations cultures with wonderful artistic traditions. Aboriginal art in British Columbia enjoys international renown. Council helps support the celebration of First Nations art by providing funding in partnership with the First Peoples' Cultural Council.
BCAC provides strong support to help young British Columbians engage in artistic experiences and develop their own artistic talent. Through programs like BC Arts Council Scholarships, Artists in the Classroom, Youth Engagement Pilot Program and Early Career Development, BCAC provides significant support for B.C. youth to build a pathway to a successful career in the province's creative industries.
The BC Arts Council will continue to play an important role in the future success of arts and culture in our province. I want to thank board chair Stan Hamilton, the 13 board members representing excellence in diverse artistic backgrounds, staff and dedicated community arts volunteers throughout British Columbia for their passionate support for arts and culture.
Our government's $60 million investment in arts and culture this year will include about $17.5 million in community gaming grants. Every year, just over 600 arts and culture organizations in B.C. communities receive gaming grants to help support programs. Many cultural organizations receive community gaming grants and BC Arts Council grants.
I encourage everyone to celebrate BC Arts and Culture Week. Stay connected at www.bcartscouncil.ca/ with arts and culture activities throughout the week in communities across British Columbia.
Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
By Coralee Oakes