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The biggest problem with letting regular blogging slide is re-entry – at least, that’s my experience. For the past month, I let the posts slide …and then eventually dwindle to mere Sunday links updates. I’d like to pull up my socks and re-enter.

Here’s a peek into a small piece of what I’ve been up to…

One of the reasons for my recent hiatus from blogging was my commitment to the CRD‘s Arts Development Office, where I am fortunate to be able to volunteer on the Arts Advisory Council. Around this time of year, my fellow AAC members and I read about 30 (this year it was 34) applications for Operational Funding from local arts organizations (all the details about eligibility and criteria are on the CRD website). We have a budget for Operating Grants of just over $2million, and – in my previous four years of doing this – the budget increased annually by 2%, and even up to 3.5%. This year, the increase was 0%, and, to complicate matters, most of the arts organizations that apply for CRD funding were also hammered by cuts at the Provincial level – which meant they need more help than ever.

Long story short: the request for funding was significantly larger than what was available to distribute.

On Saturday we held our plenary meeting where we determined funding recommendations. These will be presented for approval to the political arm – the Arts Committee, consisting of politicians from the participating municipalities (not every municipality in the CRD participates in funding Arts Development). At this point now, my work is done, but this was the hardest year of five to come up with recommendations. Our organizations range from small (a $50K annual budget is a minimum criterion for applying for Operating Funding) to larger (budgets of several millions of dollars), and all of them need support. Some of the larger orgs might have access to connections and fundraising strategies that allow them to reach wealthy donors; many of the smaller ones need to crowdsource that appeal and raise cash through possible micro-installments. Either way, raising funds is a non-stop issue – as is donor-fatigue.

If everyone in the public sphere understood what the arts accomplish on relative shoe-strings (the arts are not profligate, but are instead super-efficient!) and what they manage to give back to the community (including via the economic multiplier effect), citizens would be more willing to support funding, both individually and through public grants.

Concurrently, every art organization must do what it can to get its message out, to demonstrate its vital role in cities and towns across the country.

To the Province: restore arts funding fully in British Columbia. Provincial government is collecting lots of “new” money via its recently-instituted 12% HST – event tickets are now taxed with HST, which is an additional 7% tax on ticket prices that wasn’t there when only GST (5%), but not PST (7%), applied to tickets (prior to the introduction of HST). The arts organizations aren’t readily able to pass that 7% increase on to their patrons, which means many of them are “swallowing” the tax. Come on, BC, give some of that new cash back to the arts.

Victoria's Theatre Inconnu: newest offering, "Moscow Station"

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