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Other people used empty picture frames for protest signs and one woman handed out “Vote YES for Arts and Culture” badges that were left over from the last federal election (here we go again). When it was time for the rally to start, a group of us formed a big grey square on the steps and the rest of the protesters stood in the courtyard below. The view from the stairs was great and being crowded together helped keep me warm (I had stashed my bright green raincoat in my bag) but we could hardly hear the speeches. In the crowd below I recognized that guy from the CMC, the organizer of the 3-Day Novel Contest, a couple of people from Anvil Press, a woman from Vancouver New Music, the communications coordinator from the Fringe Festival (who has just lost her job), several of the folks from Geist magazine, the executive director of Karen Jamieson Dance, four people from Arsenal Pulp Press and a couple of people from Annick Press, the manager of the Chinese Music Ensemble, a woman from the Crafts Council of B.C. and two guys from Rumble Productions, one of whom is rumoured to have lost his job too. One of the women standing near me saw her tap dancing teacher and the fellow who works for the Symphony.
There are more photos of the rally (good ones) here.
Here’s a clip from a speech by Amir Ali Alibhai, executive director of the Alliance for Arts and Culture:
Last week most non-profit arts organizations, as well other non-profit groups, received word that they would not be receiving any money from gaming this year, even though some of them had been promised stable funding for three years. A couple of days later we heard on the news that the three-year funding was reinstated (perhaps the government was afraid of lawsuits?) but regular gaming funds are still being withheld. Apart from the difficulties that this presents to groups who have included gaming funds in their budgets, the manner in which this has all been done is bloody disrespectful to the hard-working people who are trying to run their arts group in a businesslike way. The arts are a strong component of the provincial economy and as such they deserve respect and support from the government, just like the other sectors of the economy get.
And wasn’t gambling allowed into the province in the first place only because there was a promise that a good portion of the money raised would go to non-profit groups? Casinos are still doing a great business, so where is all that money going now?