Kevin Krueger, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Stuff, said in a radio interview that arts groups are not concerned about government cuts to funding, “I don’t think anyone is lighting their hair on fire at what is coming down the pipe.”
That came as a shock to sizzling members of the arts community according to Fiona Morrow of The Globe and Mail. She says the executive directors and board chairs of the seven major provincial art groups sent a letter to Premier Gordon Campbell outlining exactly their fears for the future of the arts in British Columbia. Almost $10 million a year in support was cut in the February budget and some predict additional reductions are likely when the post-election Liberals bring forward a real budget.
Vancouver Arts Club Theater Company GM Howard Jang says Krueger’s statement was bewildering: “His predecessor, Bill Bennett, had asked the community to write and tell him what these cuts would mean to their organizations, and there was a considerable amount of communication sent in. Where has that all gone?”
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra CEO Jeff Alexander says that any cuts would prove to be “anti-stimulus.” According to the ministry’s own research, for every $1 invested in the arts, the province gets back $1.38.
Scott Walker of Victoria’s ProArt Alliance was stunned by the minister’s response, saying, “I know my colleagues are really worried about the next two years.”
Krueger said BC Liberals are supporting employment in the arts in other ways and noted that only this week they installed a 19-meter polystyrene raindrop in front of the new Vancouver convention center. This million dollar piece was designed by four German artists and constructed by Calgary fabricator, Heavy Industries. Krueger added:
The future will prove us right. The sculpture will jumpstart B.C.’s raindrop building industry, create thousands of jobs and become phenomenal moneymaking statues for the taxpayers of B.C.
The Minister, perhaps taking his title too literally, offered a biblical reference to those troubled by financial cutbacks, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Krueger explained the meaning of that passage to The Globe and Mail but he has not yet explained the meaning of his explanation.