Art gallery encouraged by gaming grant funding reinstatement

The Comox Valley Art Gallery, crippled in recent years by an accumulating deficit, had reason to smile last week.

The Comox Valley Art Gallery, crippled in recent years by an accumulating deficit, had reason to smile last week when the Province reinstated community grant funding eligibility for adult arts organizations, as well as sports, animal welfare and environmental bodies.These groups — having been declared ineligible when the B.C. government cut the community grants budget in 2008 — can once again apply for grants from provincial gambling revenues.”We see this as a positive step forward,” said gallery administrator Sharon Karsten, noting a “significant decrease” in gaming revenue has negatively impacted the gallery’s ability to serve the community in the past few years.”The gallery was looking at cutbacks to staff hours, which would have affected our programming and our service to the community prior to hearing about this announcement.” Despite the good news, Karsten said there is work to be done in terms of advocating on behalf of culture in B.C.”The fact that we are now eligible to include components of our services that were previously ineligible is a beneficial thing, but there is a larger issue of provincial arts funding in B.C.,” she said. “It stands at about one-quarter to a third of the national average.”A number of studies have found that for every dollar spent on the arts, $1.36 is returned to a community.”It’s an argument that I think is really important as communities are suffering economically, the first impulse is to cut back on arts spending, whereas in fact that should be an area of investment,” Karsten said. “It’s about healthy communities and it’s about economic health as well.”reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com