This is the opportunity presented to the British Columbia Government Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services on behalf of Arts Future BC in October 2008.
Increasing our investment in arts and culture will demonstrate to the world that British Columbia is a culturally diverse and creative place to live.
Our province, known as Supernatural British Columbia, could also become known as Creative British Columbia.
What We Know
We are in a new world economy, – a creative economy driven by ideas, innovation, and communication.
We are reminded every day that our future prosperity does not lie simply in our economic wealth. Our future prosperity lies in our education, health, community development, cultural development, and social development. Our future depends on contributing to the quality of life for all people.
Our natural resources have made us prosperous in the past. Our creative resources could make us prosperous in the future. We need to invest in our creative economy.
Where We Are Now
Our investment in our cultural and creative resources hasn’t changed significantly over the past year.
The $150 million endowment fund created by the Provincial Government last year will provide more funds for the British Columbia Arts Council but will not bring their budget to the $32 million recommended last year.
The highly leveraged $25 million Renaissance Fund created in 2005 will be depleted by the end of 2008. This program of matching grants for endowments has contributed to more than 160 arts organizations creating a perpetual investment in the arts for communities throughout the Province.
More significantly, the need for cultural facilities in communities throughout the Province is growing. The City of Vancouver has created a cultural facilities development strategy in response to this need and many other communities, like Kelowna, Nelson, Chemainus, and Langley, have created development plans focused on arts and culture to drive their economies and the social health of their communities.
The good news is we have the cultural and creative resources, the investment needed is relatively modest, and the contribution to our cultural, social, community and economic development is highly leveraged.
What We Recommend
We recommend that the Government of British Columbia:
- Increase the budget for the British Columbia Arts Council to $32 million,
- Renew the Renaissance Fund with another $25 million, and
- Conduct a comprehensive review and develop a cultural facilities development plan and strategy for the Province of British Columbia.
Return on Investment
This is what we know. Investment in the arts and our creative resources enhances education, promotes health and healing, contributes to our community development, our economy, our employment growth, and our ability to compete and contribute in the future.
The arts enhance education
Participation in the arts contributes to the development of academic skills, to our reasoning ability, and to our creativity, problem-solving skills, and expression.
The arts contribute to the development of positive social skills, self-confidence, self-control, conflict resolution, collaboration, empathy, and social tolerance, – and nurture a motivation to learn, particularly with students at risk and with special needs.
The arts promote health and healing
Research has shown the arts improve the health and well being of both individuals and communities. Cultural activity contributes to improved community identity and social cohesion, community revitalization, and the redevelopment of inner cities.
The arts are particularly effective with youth at risk, people with disabilities, and older citizens where health care and social system costs are greatest.
The arts create connections and communities
Participating in arts activities has proven to reduce youth violence, help prevent drug addiction, contribute to rehabilitation, and be a critical element in mental health treatment. The arts increase our understanding of our common interests and our appreciation of our differences.
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives concluded that artistic and cultural creativity has a direct impact on quality of life and on the competitiveness of communities in attracting people and investment.
The arts contribute to our economy and employment growth
The creative economy is leading the growth of all economic sectors in British Columbia.
The economic impact of the arts and our creative resources is greater than employment or economic multipliers. Creative industries need creative people. Creative people are attracted by opportunities to experience and engage in the arts.
The arts stimulate discussion and creative thinking
Our world is wrestling with environmental and human sustainability challenges.
Our future depends upon our ability to learn how to connect, communicate, and understand one another, create intercultural relationships, and work together to create new ideas and ways of doing things. There is more need now for creative problem solving than ever before.
The arts create connections, stimulate divergent thinking and discussion, and build communities around common concerns. Investment in our creative resources is an investment in the contribution we can make to the challenges we are facing everywhere around the world.
- British Columbia has the highest number of artists per capita in the country.
- British Columbia has the highest growth rate of artists in the country.
- British Columbia Government spending per capita on arts and culture in British Columbia is below average.
- British Columbia Government funding to the operating budgets of performing arts organizations is the lowest in Canada.
- British Columbia Government investment per capita in our creative resources lags behind all the other large provinces of Canada.
The governments of Ontario, Alberta, and the other western provinces are committed to increasing their investment even more over the next few years even further.
How Our Investment Recommendations Will Contribute
Increasing our investment to the BC Arts Council will create the fastest response in our development of any investment we can make.
Renewing our Renaissance Fund will continue to contribute to creating more perpetual investment for the arts in the future.
Investing in our cultural facilities will allow us to continue to attract and develop our creative resources to contribute to healthier communities, healthier children, and a healthier future for British Columbia.
Arts Future BC
ArtsFutureBC speaks for the Assembly of BC Arts Councils, the BC Museums Association, the BC Touring Council, Canadian Artists Representation of British Columbia, Citizens for the Arts, the Greater Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture, the ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria, and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres.
Arts Future BC represents 903 organizations from across the province: 423 museums; 98 Community and Regional Arts Councils and community arts organizations; 123 community presenters; 183 professional arts organizations; 27 educational institutions; and 51 arts service organizations. Arts Future BC also represents thousands of individual artists and their students and audiences across British Columbia – the people who represent the Arts Future for British Columbia.
Arts Future BC represents the interests of the future of the arts and cultures of British Columbia. In so doing, it speaks on behalf of the interests of all British Columbians, and the interests of our Government of British Columbia.
Assembly of BC Arts Councils
BC Museums Association
BC Touring Council
Canadian Artists Representation of British Columbia
Citizens for the Arts
Greater Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture
ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria
Professional Association of Canadian Theatres
Arts Future BC – Contributing to Our Future
Why Invest in the Arts
From the presentation made by Arts Future BC in September 2007 to the British Columbia Government Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services
Research has conclusively demonstrated the connection between arts exposure and academic performance and without exception concludes that learning is strengthened through participation in the arts
Research has provided strong evidence that the arts improve the health and wellbeing of both individuals and communities, and promote individual and community healing following traumatic experiences.
Creative initiatives are needed to deal with social issues and economic disparity. Participation in arts activities has been proven to reduce youth violence, help prevent drug addiction, support rehabilitation, be a critical element in mental health treatment, and reduce reliance on social programs.
The economic impact of the arts and our creative resources is far greater than the employment or economic multipliers our creative industries generate. The arts attract people to live and work in our Province, reduce turnover for employers, and contribute to the stability of our workforce. The arts also help create cross-cultural understanding that improves workplace and customer relationships and contributes to more successful enterprise.
We are passing from the information age to the creative age. The world is wrestling with environmental and human sustainability issues and there is a great need for creative problem solving. The arts carry important messages, often leading to social change and new ways to address human issues. The arts stimulate creative and divergent thinking and discussion, provide a forum for communication, and build communities around common concerns.
Our cultural development contributes to our community development, social development, and sustainable economic development. The health of our society largely depends upon our ability to improve our intercultural relationships, to learn how to connect, communicate, and understand one another, and to create new ideas and new ways of doing things.