In any given week, how do arts and culture influence your life?
Perhaps you went to a concert or your child’s school play. Your neighbourhood might boast colourful murals or summer festivals. The arts may be a way for you to connect with your cultural heritage. Or perhaps you’re an artist yourself. There are countless ways arts and culture enrich our lives and communities. That is why the Government of British Columbia has designated April 17-23, 2016, as BC Arts and Culture Week.
In addition to improving the quality of life of British Columbians, arts and culture support our province’s overall prosperity. They are at the heart of the creative economy, identified by the United Nations as one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors for income generation, job creation and export earnings. Building on this, in February, the Province launched the Creative Economy Strategy to help attract new investment, foster innovation and create new jobs for British Columbians. We know that creative people help to drive the BC Jobs Plan.
The three-year Creative Economy Strategy aims to promote the value of creativity, encourage cooperation and drive innovation, productivity and entrepreneurship. To launch this plan, we are targeting $1.5 million over three years toward shared creative spaces and investing a further $300,000 over two years in artsVest British Columbia, a training program designed to spark new business sponsorship of arts and culture.
We are proud to say that this investment is part of the $60 million the B.C. government is spending on artists and arts and culture organizations in 2016-17. This includes about $17.5 million in community gaming grants that support organizations throughout the province, including local festivals, youth groups, cultural societies and many more. The Province also invests in community arts councils, galleries, museums, arts organizations and individual artists through the BC Arts Council, an independent agency funded by the Government of British Columbia. This year, the BC Arts Council is providing $24 million to help artists and cultural organizations flourish in B.C. communities.
BC Arts and Culture Week is a time to recognize and celebrate the significant contribution that arts and culture make to our province. We have a lot to be proud of: B.C. is home to more artists per capita than any other province in Canada. Findings from a recent Hill Strategies report show that arts and culture organizations benefit their communities by fostering creativity, stimulating thought and artistic inspiration, as well as supporting education. The same report found that arts organizations support diversity in British Columbia’s communities through their cultural content.
During BC Arts and Culture Week, I encourage everyone to take some extra time to appreciate the arts and culture in your community.