Well, if I gave the premier of Alberta a barb yesterday, he deserves a bouquet, today. Yesterday (January 25), premier Stelmach pledged his government would boost arts funding in the province by $12 million in the next budget. That’s one giant step for Alberta culture since Peter Lougheed was premier in the 1970s. Our previous premier, Ralph Klein, held to that old narrow conservative viewpoint that the arts are just so much fluff–refusing to understand how much the arts and culture industries contribute to both the economy and well being of Albertans. Oh, and in case you are concerned about tax dollars going to the arts (like the many tax dollars already going to other industries in the province), this 12 million dollars is coming from lottery revenue–not tax revenue (unless you consider lottery revenue a tax on the poor–but that’s another issue).
So, let’s give credit where it’s due. Of course, many of my arts colleagues are saying that 12 million dollars isn’t near enough to get back to where arts and culture (remember our book publishing and film industries) were prior to Klein’s cleaver falling; and they are right–there is so much more that needs to be done. But it’s not status quo either and for these guys in government to even consider the arts being something important is a step in the right direction. Of course, this is really all pie-in-the-sky. This increase will not come to pass until the next budget is introduced and passed in the legislature, and scuttle-butt has it the introduction of the next budget will kick-off a provincial election. So, this will all have to be rehashed by a new government of whatever political stripe.
So, what’s wrong with that?