Last week’s challenge was to call the Finance Minister (and Deputy Premier) Kevin Falcon and thank him for arts funding you have received in the past from the Province. I must admit, the idea of picking up the phone to call a politician terrified me, but it actually turned out to be quite thrilling. And it felt like it had more impact than simply sending an email out into the ether.
When I sent last week’s e-newsletter I received diverse responses to this challenge. One person responded, “with all the cuts, I don’t really feel like saying thank you.” Understandable. Another take on it was, “It’s nice to be reminded to call someone and say something nice sometimes.”
I must admit that no one I spoke to was able to actually get through to speak to Minister Falcon. When I called, his administrative coordinator Keira Warren answered the phone and we had a lengthy conversation while she tried to determine who to pass me off to. Finally I told her exactly why I was calling – to say thank you – and she was stunned. I don’t think they get a lot of calls like that. Though I still couldn’t actually speak to anyone, she seemed really happy to hear from me and asked me to put my feelings into an email and she would ensure the Minister saw it (the full text is below). So if you’d like to get a message through to Minister Falcon, feel free to email Keira at email@example.com
I asked a couple of friends in the theatre community to take part in this challenge along with me and then let me know how it went. My friend Jeff didn’t actually get to talk to anyone in person, but left a message saying, “I’m calling on behalf of the arts community in BC and Vancouver to say thank you for grants that have allowed me to have this awesome career for 10 years!… . I look forward to many more years of great theatre in BC, and ongoing support from the BC government.” However, as Jeff noted, “Would’ve been more fun if I could have talked to him in person.” So true.
My friend Marco called and spoke to Keira as well (I wonder if she was wondering what was going on at this point…). He reported, “It was a brief pleasant exchange. I said that I had been hired as a result of a grant and just wanted to take a moment to let them know how much funding for the arts is appreciated…It was kind of exhilarating, felt like I was a kid again.”
Advocacy can be fun as well!
CHALLENGE WEEK TWO: On to this week’s challenge! This came as a suggestion from PACT, and we think it’s a great one. Take five minutes right now to call up your MP or MLA and invite them to an upcoming show. You could even consider asking them to say a few words at it. Let’s give them an opportunity to see and participate in the arts first-hand to see what their constituents (both artists and our audiences) are taking part in.
To find contact information for your MP click here.
To find contact info for your MLA click here.
Then post a comment below and tell us how it went! I’ll report back in next week’s edition….
compiled by Rachel Peake
Dear Minister Falcon,
I called you office today in the hope of speaking with you personally but was told you only take formal meeting requests and that you were really busy these days so it would be best to write, not call. I wanted to take a moment to thank you, or to thank your office, for a grant I received from the BC Arts Council. Thanks to the government’s support of the BC Arts Council, a jury of my peers awarded my company a grant that enabled us to create and produce two new plays. It helped to provide work for 18 people over a four-week period, as well as a great deal of other periphery employment for people running the theatre space, providing transportation, food, and other amenities for the audience before and after the show, and the grant helped us to provide entertainment for the Vancouver public for 11 days.
As both the co-Artistic Director of a company and a freelance artist, this is not the only BC Arts Council grant I benefited from this year. So thank you for those opportunities and for that employment as well.
As you enter your new position I wanted to let you know that the artists of British Columbia are grateful for the BC Arts Council. However, as I am sure you know, the money they have to work with is not enough. I simply wanted to make it clear to you, by sending this honest thanks, that the grant they distribute are appreciated, and are put to very good use.
I could take time to mention the valuable projects that did not happen because that funding was cut from previous levels, or to mention the people who went without work, left the province to work elsewhere, or turned their back on making art in order to earn a living, because the funding was cut. But you know those things. What I want to say today is that the funding the government provides the BC Arts Council is well managed, fairly distributed, and makes a big difference to people living in British Columbia, and the quality of life here. We look forward to seeing it grow.