Minister Krueger is my Pen Pal


Dear Barbara McDonald and Kevin Krueger,

Thank you for replying to my letter.

I have spent the past decade dedicating thousands of hours to building a professional festival and now am proud to say that the Poetry Gabriola Festival is the second largest literary performance festival in Canada. Our team has worked very hard to create a festival that has high production values, pays professional fees to artists, has an excellent membership base, and an enthusiastic audience.

At a time when BC Arts Council funding has been significantly cut over the past two years, and most arts organizations are no longer eligible to apply for community gaming grants, many organizations are feeling severely lacerated. People who have spent their entire careers building the arts in BC have lost their organizations, their jobs, and their homes.

Do you really think that this is a good time to invent an entire new slate of festivals?

A professional arts festival is not a box of instant mashed potatoes: you can't just add money and have a result. 

I strongly object to $3 million going to public tender to fund a series of festivals that will be produced by anyone who promises to put something together by February.  Any responsible arts organization budgets at least a year in advance and would find it impossible to put together a festival based on a policy whim. It takes years to build a festival, just as it takes years to build a track record and an audience. Unfortunately, it takes a much shorter time to demolish these things.

Furthermore, no consideration has been given to existing festivals, nor were they consulted, prior to the decision to launch this campaign. Any festival slated to produce in the first week of March will be severely impacted by a sudden "BC Spirit Festival" arriving in their community. This is particularly true in smaller communities, islands, and places where the limited population base translates to a limited number of ticket sales in a given quarter.

As far as the growing politicization of the arts to promote a Liberal agenda, I entreat you to heed Spencer Herbert's letter:

I can tell you, Minister Krueger, that many artists of all disciplines, organizers, technicians, and other  creative sector workers are pulling up stakes and moving to other provinces. There is a general feeling of dismay in the community as people watch everything they have worked for over the last 30 years being systematically dismantled by provincial government policy that is unfriendly to our industry.

I understand that the intention behind the BC Spirit Festival is being sold as "good". I appreciate that the Ministry of Culture may be taking this step in an effort to support the arts in British Columbia. I propose, however, that it is a misguided step, and urge you to re-think the investment of the legacies money. Please consider redirecting it to the hundreds of arts organization that have been building an arts legacy for the past three decades, and that are currently under threat because of recent cuts.

Sincerely yours,

Hilary Peach

Artistic Director, Poetry Gabriola Society