Gerry Rogers Question Period (04.26.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, I am getting e-mails and phone calls from artists and arts groups all over the Province. They are astounded by the message sent to them from this government through the cutting of funding to the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council – astounded and betrayed, artists that we are very, very proud of.

Mr. Speaker, they have asked me to ask the Minister of Tourism and Culture: Why on earth did you cut funding to the already underfunded, beleaguered budget of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that they direct their e-mails to the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council who came out yesterday and recognized that there will be no cuts to programs or grants for artists in this Province as a result of the Budget.

Mr. Speaker, in the past three or four years we have doubled the budget from $960,000 to $2.144 million for artists in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: There is an additional $300,000 through Cultural Connections to support artists in this Province since 2006, and they do a great job, we have great respect for them, we have a great working relationship with the Arts Council, and we will continue to support them in any way we can.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, before he heads out to Gander for the Arts Council Awards, I ask the minister, our cultural industry is vital to our economy and sense of pride – for every dollar invested, two dollars and eighty-six cents is generated. Our Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council is the third-lowest funded in the country.

So I ask the minister: Will he reverse these ridiculous cuts, these short-sighted cuts, and bring the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council funding up to par with the rest of the country?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province have a great expectation for us as a government to be fiscally responsible. We are doing that – we went through a budget exercise mandated through our departments to look at 3 per cent where we can efficiencies in our department.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DALLEY: And, Mr. Speaker, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council are an important part of what we do through the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. They have a budget, we have doubled their budget in recent years, and, Mr. Speaker, we have cut $33,000 out of a $2.4 million budget, Mr. Speaker. They can absorb it through administration – the core piece for artists are their programs and their grants, and it will not be touched, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for Question Period has expired.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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