The B.C. cabinet plans to add three members to the government’s lead arts-funding agency. Normally, the B.C. Arts Council has 15 members who oversee the strategic direction and review and approve funding.
However, it’s now down to 12 members.
In a joint March 15 statement, the B.C. government and the B.C. Arts Council announced that they are inviting applications. Furthermore, they must be from “qualified individuals with a broad range of backgrounds in arts, culture, community, and business environments”.
“The selection process will recognize lived experience and volunteer roles as well as paid employment and other achievements,” the notification states.
Moreover, the job posting has a closing date of April 2 for applications. Ultimately, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council (i.e., the cabinet) will name who gets onto council.
Typically, the council meets four or more times per year. Each meeting lasts one to two days. For this, members receive $175 for each day of work. Pay increases to $225 per day for the vice chair and $325 per day for the chair.
The government and B.C. Arts Council statement mentions that “women, visible minorities, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (LGBQ2S+), and others who can contribute to diversity are encouraged to put their name forward for these appointments”.
Their goal is to attract applications from those who fall within the B.C. Arts Council’s designated priority groups policy. It covers Indigenous and Black people and people of colour. In addition, the policy identifies those who are deaf or experience disability and those located in regions outside of major metropolitan regions.
“In consultation with the arts and culture sector, we heard that there needed to be more supports for underrepresented artists and organizations and an increased focus on equity, diversity and inclusion,” the B.C. Arts Council states on its website.
Budget allocated $38.1 million for arts and culture
Dr. Sae-Hoon Stan Chung chairs the council. He’s senior adviser to the Ktunaxa Nation Council, as well as a writer, academic, and consultant.
In the last fiscal year, the province provided the council with $35.8 million in base funding. This year’s B.C. budget, allocated $38.1 million for arts and culture.
Last year, the Society of We Are Canadians Too created Pancouver to help level the playing field for underrepresented artists.
“The mainstream’s lack of recognition for diverse artforms has led to funding inequities,” the Vision Statement says. “Artists have been shortchanged. And audiences have been deprived of opportunities to better understand our neighbours.”
The B.C. Arts Council tried to address this issue in its New Foundations: Strategic Plan for the BC Arts Council 2018-2022.
“Throughout New Foundations, we identified Indigenous, regional arts and other historically underserved groups as priorities and have been working to adjust programs to provide those groups with improved funding outcomes,” the council’s website states.
“Further evaluation identified gaps in funding distribution for individuals and groups who are Black and people of colour, and those who are Deaf or experience disability.”
It’s since followed up with Extending Foundations: Action Plan 2022-2024.