Archive for April, 2011

5 minute challenge…WEEK FIVE

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2011 by rubyslipperstheatre

Last week’s challenge was to be creative: to send something in the mail to your MLA that symbolizes what the arts cuts feel like to you. Here are some of the projects:

Ella Simon wrote in her note (at left) the following message, and enclosed with the sliced-in-half Bard on the Beach program (at right):

I am an artist living in your riding and I am still very upset about the cuts to the arts.  As a young artist still trying to establish myself in the community, these cuts have cut my opportunities in half.  This is what cutting the arts in half looks like.

And a response! “Margaret MacDiarmid, my MLA called and thanked me for sending the letter & talked to me about the new independent review regarding grants.  She didn’t have anything really amazing to say about funding.  I did press her a bit and let her know that it was definitely an issue that I am strongly considering in the upcoming election.”

Lindsay Drummond cut the centre out of a Vancouver postcard (left) and sent it to her MLA saying:

Slashing Arts funding is like cutting the heart out of Vancouver.

From a community member directly affected by the Provincial
arts cuts.

~Lindsay Drummond, TigerMilk Collective Society

And I decided to take things to a personal level and cut in half the card my mum sent me for Valentines’ Day (at right) sending along a sticky note saying:

This is what it looks like to only have half the resources you need to make your voice heard.  Please work to restore arts funding in BC.

I didn’t get a response, but the MLA in question did find me and start following me on Twitter….

Hopefully these provide our representatives with a tangible expression of how some of us are feeling and the conditions under which we now work and create.

THE CONTINUING CHALLENGE:  Now is the time to speak your mind.  While our representatives have elections on the brain, now is the time our voice as constituents can be heard the loudest.  I spoke to Jane Heyman and her advice was simple: “the first thing that comes to mind – and something I’m actually doing – is writing to all the NDP leadership candidates to inquire about their arts policies and urge them to make Arts Policy more prominent in the party platform.”  Which is a great idea – I would recommend writing to all the parties.

An even more basic idea is this: every time you receive a politician’s phone call, see someone out campaigning, or receive an electoral email, I challenge each of you to take the time to answer the phone, stop and chat, or email back and simply ask: “what is your stand on arts funding?”

Simply by asking the question we make the issue relevant, and by making it relevant, we will eventually be heard.

Thanks for taking the time to be part of the solution.  Don’t quit now!

compiled by Rachel Peake


5 minute challenge…WEEK FOUR!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12, 2011 by rubyslipperstheatre

I’ll admit it – I’m getting a bit more fierce in these challenges as time goes on and the federal election looms.  Last week’s challenge sounded simple but turned out to be a tricky one….to call the Minister of Community Sport and Cultural Development, Ida Chong, and issue a specific, one-sentence goal that you would like her office to work toward.  There was some reluctance in people I suggested this challenge to, due in part to a lack of faith in the Minister herself: “she’s an idiot, it’s clear from her long history of saying whatever it takes to stay in cabinet.”  “My impression is that she is not a curious person.”  She has no background in culture and, “I do not go my dentist and ask him to do my taxes!

So I was on my own.  Unfortunately, the Minister is a difficult person to reach.  My first attempts to phone her resulted in her office bouncing my inquiry over to the BC Arts Council, who were wonderful and called me back very quickly.  However, that was not who I wanted to talk to so I tried again.  This time I didn’t say I was involved in the arts in any way but simply that I as a constituent who considers cultural development extremely important would like to speak to the Minister.  I wasn’t allowed to talk to her but they did take my contact information and say someone would get back to me.  I’m still waiting…

Andrew Templeton put it well when he said, “Alas, this is an old problem in the English-speaking world. The “culture” portfolio is amongst the least desirable for ministers to have. Status is based on the size of the budget for each portfolio and arts (which often linked to sports – under the general category of “hobbies”) is usually tiny. In France, the cultural minister is a big deal. We need to have a profound shift in the status of culture and the role of government in promoting culture.” Making it difficult to attract the best people to this uphill struggle.

My goal statement to the Minister was going to be: 1.Please fight to set a specific deadline to address re-defining the eligibility for Gaming funding, and 2.Please fight to raise the per capita arts funding to be on par with the national average.

Sounds simple enough, right?  I’ll keep you posted if I ever have the chance to tell Ms Chong…

CHALLENGE WEEK FOUR: This week, we’re going old-school and asking you to drop something in the mail.  Use your creativity to send something that symbolizes what the arts cuts feel like to you, and then send it off to your MLA’s office (to find him or her click here).  Give them a card or a piece of art to hang on their wall to remind them what it feels like to work with less than half of what you need.

We’d love to see what you send!  Post a photo of it here before it hits the mail!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words…..


compiled by Rachel Peake

5 minute challenge… WEEK THREE!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2011 by rubyslipperstheatre

Are we gaining momentum?  Are you feeling the looming election?  Last week’s challenge was to call up your MP or MLA and invite him or her to attend an upcoming show, or even to speak at it.  The idea is to promote dialogue between political figures and our audiences in order to connect politicians with constituents who really care about theatre.  To bring representatives in to see what we do and the people – the voters – who benefit from it.  It makes me hopeful if both sides can put a face to this movement.

The first question everyone came to in this challenge was: how do I decide which MLA/MP to invite? Do I invite the person from where I live?  Where my company’s office is?  Where the show is taking place?  I say invite them all, but I decided to start with option three and invited representatives from the area where my event was taking place: Solo Collective’s Solo Flights Showcase at the Playhouse Production Centre.  I called the offices, thinking that might get more of a response than an e-vite, but was then asked to follow up with an email.  I haven’t heard back from MP Hedy Fry yet, but MLA Mary McNeil’s office tried really hard to make it work in conjunction with another event, sending several emails back and forth before they eventually had to pass, “Thanks again for the invitation, I am truly sorry that she is unable to attend.

Dave Deveau invited his reps to his upcoming show, Zee Zee Theatre’s My Funny Valentine, and reports: “Hedy Fry has confirmed and will be speaking.”  Excellent!  David C Jones invited some provincial politicians to judge the new OUTtv series Tops and Bottoms – I can’t wait to see that one!  Michael Scholar Jr “invited them via email to come to [Macbeth: nach Shakespeare] opening night or night thereafter.  Just to see the show. Not to speak. So far I’ve gotten auto responders from them, but nothing specific.”  It sounds like the best way to get politicians out is to offer them a chance to address your captive audience.  Understandable I suppose.

Now that the dialogue has begun, on to the continuing story…

CHALLENGE WEEK THREE: Most of you know that a few weeks ago, new Premier Christy Clark replaced a number of Ministers directly affecting arts organizations.  The Minister of Community Sport and Cultural Development, the closest thing British Columbia has to a Minister of Culture, appears to be a challenging position to hold.  The previous Minister, Stephanie Cadieux, had expressed “discomfort” with talking about British Columbia’s arts spending on a per capita basis (for the per capita provincial comparisons go here), particularly when BC’s arts spending was shown to be less than a third of the national provincial average!  The new Minister, Ida Chong, did not begin well either.  Her first interview in the Georgia Straight delved into the future of BC Gaming Funding (if you missed it, check it out here), and she had very few answers for us.

This week’s challenge is to call the Minister of Community Sport and Cultural Development, Ida Chong, and issue a specific, one-sentence goal that you, as a voter and a resident of British Columbia, would like her office to work toward.  Simply: “Welcome to your new office.  In your new position, I would ask you to target…” and then spell it out for her!  Make it impossible for the minister or her office to misunderstand exactly what the expectations are. You can reach her at 250 387-2283 or via Inquiry BC at 1-800-663-7867.

Then let us know how it went by commenting here below…..

Dive on in – it’ll only take five minutes.  And it might just make a difference!


compiled by Rachel Peake