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Visual artists across Canada outraged by BC cuts

Ottawa, Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 – CARFAC, the national association of visual artists, is outraged by the 85-92% cut to arts investment in British Columbia. Not only will these cuts destroy the arts community just as the world is watching Vancouver but it will also cost the BC government millions in lost tax revenue.

“The rest of Canada has often looked to British Columbia as an example of a vibrant and successful arts community,” said April Britski, Executive Director of CARFAC’s national office in Ottawa. “A loss of investment of this magnitude will undoubtedly mean the loss of one of BC’s greatest assets.”

B.C.’s arts and culture sector employs more than 78,000 people and contribute over $5 billion each year to the provincial economy. The B.C. government’s own research has demonstrated that for every dollar invested in the arts between $1.05 and $1.36 comes back in taxes. The costs of creating jobs in the arts and culture sector are among the lowest compared to other sectors of the economy. Creating a new job in the cultural sector is estimated to cost $20,000-$30,000, compared with light industry ($100,000) or heavy industry ($200,000). Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland have all increased their level of investment understanding that it brings returns in economic growth. BC will now have the lowest arts funding in all of Canada

“The BC government is shooting themselves in the foot,” said Britski. “I seriously hope they reconsider.”

Even before these cuts, visual artists were under huge financial pressure. The average income of a visual artist in Canada is $13,976 and the median, or typical income is less than $8,000. This despite the fact that 41 per cent of artists have a university degree, a certificate, or a diploma – almost double the rate of the overall labour force.

“The stories we are hearing from visual artists are upsetting,” said Julie McIntyre, President of CARFAC BC. “These are people who are already working with razor-thin budgets on microscopic salaries and their important work is suddenly at risk of being completely wiped out.”

CARFAC (The Canadian Artists’ Representation/le Front des artists canadiens) is the national association of Canada’s professional visual and media artists. CARFAC defends artists’ rights through advocacy and professional development and produces a schedule of artists’ fees that is widely recognized as the national standard. The Status of the Artist Act empowers CARFAC to negotiate with national organizations on behalf of all visual artists in Canada.

Visit CARFAC BC’s cuts event on Facebook.

For more information contact:

April Britski
Executive Director, CARFAC National