Arts groups in tailspin over grant cuts

Sooke council committee recommends reducing funding to arts council and fine arts society

A series of recommendations that could slash funding to several Sooke arts groups will have a trickle-down effect that could cut programs or see the end of some organizations, warn community art leaders.

The community grant review committee is recommending to District of Sooke council to slash funding to both the Sooke Community Arts Council and the Sooke Fine Arts Society, among others.

Sooke Community Arts Council was seeking $4,000 from the municipality. The committee is recommending that the council receive no funds. The fine arts society saw its $7,000 request cut in half.

Two years ago council gave out more than $250,000 in annual grants, bi-annual grants and servicing agreements. Last year council began a new process of reviewing grants, starting with its bi-annual grants. This year that review covered the annual grants.

Coun. Kerrie Reay said the process was open and letters were sent to organizations. Some of those groups showed up at the meeting to discuss their grants, others did not.

“There was no hidden agenda. This was very public in the budgeting process [last year],” she said. “I think the grant committee did a good job going through all the grants. It’s very hard when you’re trying to use taxpayers dollars and when you want to use them for the majority of the community.”

Reay said the committee decision was only the first step. The recommendation still must go to council for ratification, and she suggested all or none of the recommendations could be voted down.

Caryl Wilford, acting president of the Sooke Community Arts Council, said her group did not receive a letter of the meeting and fears a funding cut could be the end of her organization or at the very least curtail its activities.

“We were blind-sided and stunned,” she said.

Without municipal funding, the arts council will lose matching funding from the B.C. Arts Council.

Wilford said without the funding other arts programs are at risk including Art in the Park, Beach Art and Family Art Fair

The Sooke Community Arts Council used the municipal money and re-granted it to other organization, which is not permitted, said Reay.

Wilford disagreed. She said the money used to help other organizations came from the B.C. Arts Council, but Reay points out that money from the B.C. Arts Council wouldn’t be available if the municipal grant was available.

“If we don’t have support of local government and if that carries on for two years, it means that we no longer have the mandate from the B.C. Arts Council and we’re done,” Wilford said.

Catherine Keogan, executive director of the Sooke Fine Arts Society, said she fears what the grants committee has signaled to the rest of the community.

“There were many implied criticisms of the arts in general and that perhaps they’re not for everyone. I would be hard-pressed to think of any good cause that is for everyone, which doesn’t make it any less worthy of support,” she said.

“There certainly is a tremendous cascade of negative effects that we can see coming out of these recommendations, particularly how the community arts council has been affected.”

The 2015 budget allocated $72,788 for annual grants and $50,000 for bi-annual grants. More than $76,000 was requested for the annual grants this year.

District of Sooke council will make a decision on the grants at its Dec. 14 meeting.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Victoria Classic Boat Festival cancelled due to safety concerns

Organizers say Inner Harbour doesn’t provide enough space for physical distancing

Owners say loss of parking pushes businesses to the brink

New Penny Farthing patio ‘will be like New Orleans, or Las Vegas’

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight in Victoria

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

Saanich woman says sexual assault was dismissed by police because of her ‘body language’

Patrol officers investigate sexual assault files, make decisions on what goes to Crown counsel

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

Playing his tune

Musician Daniel Morel breaks out a tune with his harmonica in front… Continue reading

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Most Read