PACs see gaming grants double for 2010-2011 

But arts council budget reduced after losing Cultural Capital funding and gaming grants

The province of B.C. has increased its allotment of gaming grants from $113 million last year to $120 million this year, with funding going to approximately 6,000 organizations around the province.

On Monday the province announced that one of the biggest beneficiaries will be Parent Advisory Councils, with the grant per student doubling from $10 to $20 this year. District Parent Advisory Councils will be allocated $2,500 each, doubling last year's grant.

Other organizations can apply for single year grants of up to $100,000 through the year through the regular application process. Organizations that deliver services to all communities of the province are eligible for grants up to $250,000.

Youth arts, culture and sports groups will be eligible for grants this year, as well as sports organizations serving people with disabilities. As well, a new sub-category of grants has been created for museums, fairs and festivals.

Sports and arts will benefit from a $60 million legacy fund that was included in the province's recent budget.

But while some grants have been increased, some projects remain ineligible to apply for gaming grants including school playgrounds, environmental groups and adult arts, culture and sports organizations.

In 2008, provincial gaming grants were $156 million, but the government of B.C. cut grant allocations across the board in 2009 in response to rising deficits. The cuts affected more than a dozen Whistler groups, including the Parent Advisory Councils at local school, the Whistler Museum and Archives, Whistler Arts Council, the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, Whistler Community Services Society, the Whistler Children's Centre Society, the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program and others.

Some grants were denied while some organizations received less then they applied for.

The Whistler Arts Council was one of the groups that had funding pulled in 2009 after receiving a $40,000 grant in 2008.

Doti Niedermayer, executive director of the Whistler Arts Council, said the lack of grants could result in cuts to funding.

"Basically, what's happened with the arts council and our programming is that we're going back to the budgets we had three years ago," she said. "The year before (2009) we received $40,000, which is basically the core funding for some of our most important and successful summer programming, like the Children's Art Festival, Artwalk, summer art workshops.

"Last year we were able to compensate because of Cultural Capital of Canada funding, but this year we don't have that funding or provincial funding, so that's a huge hit."

Niedermayer says no details have been released regarding the $60 million legacy fund for sports and arts, or whether WAC will be able to apply for that funding. Meanwhile the arts council has to make some tough decisions.

"With cuts to funding that means a smaller festival, a smaller Artwalk, a smaller summer arts program and focusing more on corporate funding from the community and the province, which is also pretty tight right now," she said. "This (grant freeze) is having a huge affect on us."

Niedermayer said the province is also squandering the opportunity presented by the Olympics.

"Given the momentum we've built as a community and as a province with the Olympic Games and the culture program... I never expected that this would be the year we would have to cut back. I think this would have been the year we would have an opportunity to leverage what's happening," she said.

"I think most people would agree that some of the most exciting and interesting aspects of the Games were the culture programming, what was happening in the streets of Vancouver and Whistler and at the venues. There's also the goal of building tourism, which I believe was the whole point of hosting the Games - to increase the brand of B.C. I think cultural programming has a huge part to play."

The Whistler Museum and Archives did not receive any money from the program in 2009, but is eligible to apply for 2010-2011 funding in May.



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