Archive for March, 2011

5 minute challenge…WEEK TWO!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2011 by rubyslipperstheatre

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

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.

Thank you.

Rachel Peake


The 5 minute challenge….WEEK ONE!!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21, 2011 by rubyslipperstheatre

Do you have five minutes?

As we approach the two-year anniversary of the start of the darkest days in arts funding in British Columbia, we could all use a little good news.  Hopes were high that British Columbia’s most recent budget would provide that positivity but it did not.  BC will be spending $6.50 per person annually on the arts (the lowest in Canada) while national provincial average sits at $26. In fact, the next-to-lowest spending province, Alberta, still spends $20.91 per person on the arts, more than THREE TIMES what BC does.

Ruby Slippers Theatre has therefore decided to use this forum, its annual The Flying Monkey e-newsmagazine, to create a five-minute challenge every week for the next four weeks.  Just twenty minutes to have impact.

We started by talking to Spencer Chandra Herbert, West End MLA and Official Opposition Critic for Arts, Culture and Tourism. We asked him what he saw as successes in the arts community’s fight in response to these drastic arts cuts:

The arts in British Columbia have become front-page news.  Before this, arts issues were relegated to the back of the paper, in the entertainment section, or not featured at all.  Now, people from all sectors of the community are talking about the value of the arts  and the role they play in life in British Columbia.   For the first time in a long time, political leaders are being actively pressed on the issue of arts funding; government is being pushed to “invest in creativity.”

Thanks Spencer!  If that’s where our success lies, then we can’t quit now!  Over the next four weeks we will challenge you each week to make your opinion heard by the people in power and let them know we are not done fighting.  We will do the challenges with you (along with some friends who are helping out) and will report back as to how each activity was received.  As Spencer points out, we need to focus on priorities:

If a government representative argues “do you want us to cut health care or cut funding to the arts?” one could respond that this is a matter of priorities.  They could equally ask, “do you want to cut taxes to banks or cut funding to the arts?”

CHALLENGE WEEK ONE: Take five minutes right now to pick up the phone and call the Minister of Finance, Kevin Falcon, and thank him for a recent provincial grant you received.  It can be one you applied for personally, or one that was received for a project you worked on. Feel free to be creative in how you express your thanks: originality stands out!

You can reach the Minister at 250 387-3751 or call Inquiry BC at 1-800-663-7867 and ask to be connected to his office.

And let us know how it goes with comments here!

Now, on to action!


compiled by Rachel Peake