Gaming grants for adult sports and arts programs cut
Published Monday, March 8, 2010 8:30PM PST
Housing Minister Rich Coleman announced changes to B.C.'s gaming grant policy Monday, delivering grim news to adult sports, arts and environmental groups.
The province will allocate grants to 6,000 organizations that work with children, youth sports, the disabled and the vulnerable this year, Coleman said.
Parent Advisory Councils will also now receive $20 per student, reinstating the former per-student funding PACs received last year before being reduced to $10.
Meanwhile, adult groups traditionally funded by gaming grants, such as theatre troupes and environmental societies, were given the axe.
Premier Gordon Campbell said the province's $1.7-billion deficit forced the Liberals to make tougher choices with gaming revenue spending.
"We've decided to focus those efforts on children, young people particularly, because that has the most lasting benefit we think."
Campbell also touted the Sports and Arts Legacy fund announced in the government's new budget last week, which will provide $60-million in funding over three years -– but details on how the province plans to disperse the funding have not been revealed.
Of the more than $1-billion in lottery and gaming revenues expected this year, Coleman said the Liberal government will provide $120-million in grants, up from the $113-million allocated in 2009-10, but short of the $156-million given in 2008-09.
The bulk of gaming revenue will fund programs such as health care and education, Coleman said.
Outrage in the arts community
Members of Hive 3, a collaboration of 16 dance and drama groups performing together for the cultural Olympiad, told CTV News they feel betrayed by the government's decision to cut arts funding right after their services were commissioned for the Olympics.
"The organizers of the Olympics asked the arts community to create a welcome for the world," said David Bloom, director at the Felix culpa Theatre. "Then they asked us to bus the tables and please leave by the back exit. That seems the attitude."
New Democrat arts and culture critic Spencer Herbert says the new gaming grants policy puts a choke-hold on many arts groups that depend on government funding for survival.
"He's asking them to go find money right now that doesn't exist," he said.
And while provincial arts funding will remain for children and youth, there may be a much smaller adult arts scene waiting for them when they grow up.
With files from The Canadian Press and a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger