Tuesday, October 6, 2009

BC Arts & Culture Cuts Visualized

I have a strong love-hate relationship with political discussions, but some matters are too important for me to sit quietly on the sidelines. One of those issues is the recent BC budget with dramatic cuts to Arts and Culture, which will affect the operating budgets of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, to name just one example.

My personal love and opinion aside (which admittedly, is impossible), the arts in BC has a positive return on investment. Those employed in the arts sector also receive lower wages when measured against comparable positions in other sectors. Thus, Arts and Culture has more bang for the buck. This has been shown in even provincial governmental studies.

Why the current government would disregard its own research is beyond me, but their counter-intuitive, short-sighted monetary decisions will leave long-lasting damages on the BC arts scene, as well as on the budgets to come. Some of the results include cancellation of programs, lay-offs (as our economy is just beginning to recover from a recession), and the relocation and brain drain of artistic talent elsewhere as living in BC becomes unsustainable for their craft. The effects will spill over into our tourism and hospitality sector, once the boost from the Olympics subsides.

Now onto why I created this post: I wanted to share the excellent visualizations that Jeremy Thorp has created, which demonstrate the drastic cuts made to Arts and Culture. What really struck me was how steep the cuts are comparative to other sectors, knowing its benefit to the BC economy. He has also written a thoughtful piece to go along with his statistical gems; I highly recommend you take a read through it.

(Click on image to enlarge)

When the 114 expenditures are arranged to display gain (in blue) or loss (in red), the picture becomes even more clear (here, bars represent percentage loss or gain). With a loss of more than 80%, Arts & Culture suffers the second worst cuts – with the worst being another Arts & Culture-related line item!

Compared to other business areas with similar budgets, this decline is particularly drastic. For example, Asia Pacific Trade & Investment falls only 26% (from 16.179M to 11.593M) and Small Business, Research & Competitiveness falls only 21% (from 21.966M to 17.263M). ...

Once again, Thorp has more accessible and understandable graphs on his entry "BC Budget Visualizations – DIY Transparency & Local Government." Take a look, and realize just how disproportionately high the cuts are to Arts and Culture, a business sector that is thriving, profitable and contributes greatly to the general welfare of BC citizens.

If you feel as strongly about these cuts as I do (heck, even if you don't), please do read up more on the provincial budget and other pieces related to the Arts and Culture cuts. I didn't cite all my sources, but there are many. And make sure you're heard:

Gordon Campbell
(250) 387-1715

Kevin Kreuger
(250) 953-4246