Picasso in his studio space. Where are Vancouver artists going to work?
Stinging from a building backlash from Vancouver's artist community over budget cuts, City Council is setting up Yet Another Task Force (or YATF). The new working group roundtable proposed by Coun. Heather Deal is labeled the Fine Arts Action Response Team (or F.A.A.R.T.) and it is meant to try and smooth over a community that feels let down by the people they helped to elect.
During the 2008 campaign Vision ran on the myth that the NPA were poor stewards of Vancouver's artistic affairs, and under Vision Vancouver the City would be green, lush and a veritable Mecca for Vancouver's creative class. In return for their support, Council's first key budgetary decision is to slash the Office of Cultural Affairs by 10%.
"Artists can see what's going on," remarked a highly reputable member of the arts community who would only speak anonymously. "They remember that under the NDP arts funding went down, and under the Liberals it went up. Now they seen Vision, who they worked to get elected, have slashed their commitment to the arts and they're doing stuff like voting against the Odyssey Nightclub. Look who supported the Odyssey, and people see that it was the NPA. No one I know wants to sit around another roundtable because it will accomplish nothing."
While this statement probably lacks the nuance of what really happened during these governments, it is interesting that this is the perception out there in the arts community. The cuts to the OCA don't help much either.
It is interesting to note that with the creation of the F.A.A.R.T. roundtable that the story Vision are spinning cutting red tape for artist studios as a new City initiative. A more accurate account of political maneouvres around aiding artists in their quest for more studio & gallery space shows that it began under Sam Sullivan with the aid of Coun. Elizabeth Ball. Ball is a respected leader in the arts community, and founder of the Carousel Theatre Company.
This Global TV story shows how under Sullivan moves were already taking place to cut red tape a year ago, particularly in the Downtown Eastside, to get boarded up storefronts back in business as studio space. How Vision's F.A.A.R.T. working group will improve conditions for Vancouver's artists after making deep cuts to the department they depend upon is still not clear.