Funding the arts & culture
Funding the Arts . . .
by Jay Hirabayashi
The BC Government has slashed funding to the arts by 80 to 90 percent over the next two years. 40% of those cuts will be to the BC Arts Council, which funds companies like Kokoro Dance. Gaming funds through Direct Access grants will be cut completely by next year. We will lose $50,000 in funding support from Gaming alone. We will taxed further, when the HST is implemented in July, for things that previously were not taxed such as tickets to arts events. This will also have an impact on our revenues.
In a BC government fact sheet of September 22, 2008, deputy ministers were given an average salary increase of just over 7% to bring their average salary to $217,758; assistant deputy ministers now average $157,608/yr representing a 21% increase in salary. The average salary for artists is about 26% below the average salary for all workers according to a study compiled by Hill Strategies Research Inc. In May, 2009, the average wage was $790.22/wk or $41,091.44/yr or $19.76/hr. The average salary for artists, therefore, can be estimated to be $663.78/wk or $34,516.81/yr or $16.59/hr. If we are to take 40% off of that salary because of BCAC cuts to our funding, we will leave the artist with an annual salary of $20,710.09 or $517.75/wk or $8.77/hr. After thirty-two years as a professional artist, I earn $20/hr for 40 hours per week, $0.24/hr better than the average. My job, however, requires that I donate another 20 to 30 hours a week without compensation. If I take a 40% cut in my salary, I can look forward to earning $12/hr for those hours that I am paid, and unfortunately, I do not have the time to get another job to supplement my artist’s salary because I am already working evenings and weekends as a volunteer in service to the organization that I started. I do not have mortgage payments because I do not own a home. I do not have RRSP’s either, however, so I cannot really afford to retire. I am sixty-two years old and these cuts come at a point when I should be thinking about retirement. If I have to retire because of these cuts, I have nothing to look forward to except social assistance. Kokoro Dance Theatre Society is a nonprofit charitable organization that produces the annual Vancouver International Dance Festival. We annually pay wages and fees to over a hundred artists, technicians, and administrators. Every dollar that we receive from the BCAC is multiplied sixteen times in terms of the amount of funds that we return to BC’s economy. However, every dollar that we are short in balancing our budget can come from nowhere other than my salary. I cannot ask the already impoverished dancers that we hire to take a wage cut. Unlike BC Government politicians, we lead by example so when we are hit by obscene and heinous cuts to our grants from the BCAC, we will take the hit personally.
. . . and Culture
by John Endo Greenaway
Miko Hoffman has been involved in the arts and culture sector for much of her life, with deep roots within Vancouver’s Nikkei community. Her mother, Linda Uyehara Hoffman, is a founding member of Katari Taiko, Canada’s first taiko group, and has been involved with the Asian and arts communities in many capacities over the years. Miko’s father, Avron, is a retired library worker and published poet.
Miko served as General Manager and Programming Director of the Powell Street Festival for six years (and before that was Festival Coordinator for two years) and is currently the Executive Director of the National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre in Burnaby where she oversees the operations of the Centre including programs and finances. Having had so much experience with both the curatorial and funding aspects of running a non-profit society, Miko is keenly aware of the fine line that non-profit organizations tread every day – balancing the ever-present need to raise funds with their mandate to create programming that is meaningful and innovative.
The recent funding cuts by the BC government have affected not only arts groups but sports and community organizations like the Powell Street Festival, Tonari Gumi and the NNM&HC.
I spoke to Miko Hoffman about the potential impact of the cuts on non-profit community organizations.
In all the furor over the cuts to the arts, other parts of the equation, like cultural and sports groups, were almost pushed to the back. How have the cuts affected the NNM&HC?
We relied on the Gaming grant to help sustain our basic operations. Because we are such a unique organization, being a museum, cultural centre and community centre all in one, we have had some difficulty accessing funding from various government sources. It has been quite discouraging because in recent years we feel we have gained a lot in terms of capacity — we are strengthening our programs, building our infrastructure, and creating a vision for growth and expansion – but now we have lost one of the few government grants we have been able to count on.
The government has justified their slashing of funding, framing it as food for hungry children vs. funding for arts and culture. How do you respond to arguments like that?
Arts and culture is integral to the development of society, especially for children’s development, growth and education.
Given the fact that the Society has lost this funding, how will you make up for the shortfall?
Our staff and volunteer finance and fundraising committees have been hard at work developing plans for diversifying revenues and increasing some of the earned revenues we already receive, such as private rentals. We are planning to apply for many different grants this year. We are working closely with the Nikkei Place Foundation (an endowment fund set up to support the operations of the National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre and the Nikkei Seniors Healthcare and Housing Society) to run our annual fundraising campaigns. We also have a slew of fundraising events planned for this year, including the 2nd annual Asian Canadian art auction on April 24, golf tournament on June 27, and our 10th Anniversary Gala in September.
People often feel powerless in cases like this, faced with government edicts. Is there anything that people can do to help?
There are several ways that people can help their favourite charitable organization. They can show their support by donating, or by signing up to be a new member or volunteer. There are also ways to let the government know how you feel. The Alliance for Arts and Culture administers an advocacy group called Creativity Counts, and the mandate is to restore funding for the arts (and I would hope, for culture as well). They have a blog, found here: creativitycounts.wordpress.com/
The Bingo Council of BC has also set up an online petition to reinstate all charitable gaming grants in BC: www.petitiononline.com/VCBS2010/petition.html