Cultural industries under attack: Rogers
As members of the arts community gather in Gander for the 27th Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Arts Awards Show, NDP Tourism, Culture and Recreation critic Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) is questioning government’s commitment to the province’s cultural industries.
“We are so, so proud of our artists,” Rogers said today. “But many of them feel disillusioned and betrayed by the news that $33,000 has been cut from the Arts Council budget this year. We are already the third-lowest in the country for per capita funding to the arts.”
Throughout the week, Rogers and her colleagues have also been hearing from cultural institutions who have been turned down for Job Creation Partnership grants by the province.
“The Arts Council has the only fund for creation of new ideas and works in the province and it is shameful that the government would lessen that funding,” said Rogers, “But many cultural and heritage groups rely on other forms of government investment to keep their doors open.
“We are hearing from all over the province that groups that were expecting JCP grants have been turned down. The whole process was about a month behind schedule. Applicants were told there should have been no problem, so they were planning their summers based on the staff members and funding coming in. Now they are scrambling to salvage the season.
“This affects theatre festivals, music festivals, all kinds of culture and historic sites. We hear so much about the importance of our artists and culture in building our tourism industry, but government has been so incredibly short-sighted in these decisions, it is jeopardizing the entire industry.
“Government talks a nice talk about supporting our cultural industries,” Rogers added. “But it’s looking more and more like a death by a thousand small cuts.”