Cabinet minister Ida Chong and B.C. Arts Council chair Stan Hamilton announce grant fund at Victoria Public Library Monday.

B.C. arts, culture grants maintained

Victoria provides $16.8 million for more than 1,000 grants in 200 communities across the province.

The B.C. government has provided $16.8 million for community arts and culture grants for the current year, matching last year’s total with help from a dwindling 2010 Olympic legacy fund.

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong announced the funding Monday in Victoria, along with B.C. Arts Council chair Stan Hamilton. The BCAC has juries that assess funding applications, and has already doled out about $6 million of this year’s budget.

With less than half the money allocated in Chong’s current ministry budget, another $6.75 million came from the 2010 Sports and Arts Legacy. That $60 million fund was created in the 2010 budget to offset earlier recession-driven cuts to adult arts and sports organizations from provincial gambling revenues. It will be gone after this year, and there is no indication where it might be made up next year.

When the recession hit in 2008, the B.C. Liberal government cut grant funding from the B.C. Lottery Corp. from $156 million to $113 million, then raised it back to $120 million to restore funds to school district parent advisory councils. Applicants were told that arts and sports funding from lotteries would be restricted to organizations for young people and the disabled.

Premier Christy Clark promised to restore funds while campaigning for the party leadership last year. Once elected, she announced a $15 million increase in gambling funds for a range of organizations including community service clubs, fairs, festivals and museums.

Chong said she sometimes meets artists and organizations who are not aware that they can apply to the B.C. Arts Council for grants. Eligibility requirements and application forms are available at www.bcartscouncil.ca.

The largest recipients of arts council funding include the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra ($1.2 million last year), the Vancouver Art Gallery ($630,000) and the Vancouver International Film Festival ($82,000).

Chong said more than 1,000 grants are given out to 200 B.C. communities, including $1.1 million to writers, publishers and literary festivals, as well as scholarships for new writers.

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