On Friday, September 2, in the lobby outside the Ledcor Theatre at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Hon. Rona Ambrose reaffirmed the Federal Government's support for the Arts through an announcement of grants to Edmonton Arts organizations from Canadian Heritage. Of course, all of these grants are via existing programs and there was no announcement of any new money for these programs or anything else. However, Minister Ambrose, in conversation with the writer and other Arts organization representatives, who expressed their sincere hope that at least current funding levels could be maintained in this climate of deficit-reduction, did say, "...and we will."
Let's all hope this will be true amid rumours of a 5-10% cut to Canadian Heritage...and across all government departments.
Advocacy and lobbying are well underway at the federal level. The Canadian Arts Coalition is working on its annual Arts Day On The Hill events and meetings and has also submitted a briefing to the Standing Committee on Finance , and both PACE and ArtsVote Calgary are working hard to let candidates for the leadership of the Alberta Conservatives know of the importance of the Arts not only to our quality of life, but to our economy and our society. Check out the websites of all of these organizations for information on their efforts, and in the case of PACE and ArtsVote Calgary, for notes on their conversations with leadership candidates of all political stripes.
It's a hugely busy time of year, with seasons and programs starting up after summer. If we can participate in whatever way we're able and encourage as many conversations as possible between our audiences, patrons, sponsors and their elected representatives on the importance of Art, we can minimize any damage and create a climate for progress in the future.