In my review for Becky’s New Car I mentioned the short run earlier in the season of Mexico City and The Russian Play, a double-bill of Hannah Moscovitch one-acts presented locally by Ruby Slippers. This reminded me that Leaky Heaven’s innovative take on A Streetcar Named Desire only had a four day run and indeed, The Boy Who Went Outside by Conrad Alexandrowicz, produced by Wild Excursions and on right now, ends this Sunday after four days.
While researching an article a couple of years ago, I interviewed someone who said the following:
Culture in BC is for kiddies and Sunday afternoon watercolourists.
You may have already seen it at the Wrecking Ball on November 23rd or through Facebook, but we thought we'd share with you the excellent PSA that was created in response to last summer's withdrawal of funding through Gaming and the proposed cuts to the BC Arts Council.
You can find the clip here.
Here's a little background on the film:
ARTLESS, an independently produced public service announcement about the arts funding cuts, was released online Tuesday November 24 as part of a campaign to protest the BC government's current and planned arts funding cuts. The ad, which imagines a grey artless world, is shot in some of Vancouver's most iconic artistic venues. This powerful visual statement is rapidly gaining attention. After its world premiere as a part of the Wrecking Ball Cabaret on Monday November 23, this PSA received over 1000 hits its first day on YouTube. ARTLESS is currently featured on the Facebook and Twitter pages of many of BC’s top entertainers, and is spreading fast to theatres, schools and TV stations. It can be seen at artlesspsa.wordpress.com
Vancouver filmmakers Kryshan Randel and Cara Yeates were assigned the theme "A World Without Art" by the Wrecking Ball Committee. Immediately, they had the ambitious idea of filming inside Vancouver's most important artistic venues, including the Orpheum, Fifth Avenue Cinemas and Grunt Gallery, emptying them of their art and replacing it with grey. To create further impact, the ad features twelve year old rising star Alex Ferris (RV, The Time Traveller’s Wife) wandering through the stark venues, trying to imagine what art looks like. His journey is accompanied by a haunting song, which was provided by a local elementary school choir.
The team consisting of Randel (Director/Co-writer), Yeates (Co-writer/Producer), Toby Gorman (Director of Photography) and Mathieu Wacowich (Co-Producer), was small but fearless. The shoot was a tremendous challenge; five locations photographed in one ten-hour filming day on Gorman's one day off from on-set work. "My guerrilla filmmaking background helped us make our day, but barely - it was the hardest thing I've ever done", says Randel.
But the hard work is already paying off. Alan Franey director of the Vancouver International Film Festival has committed to passing this PSA onto the festival’s contact list and screening it at the VanCity Theatre. ARTLESS will be soon featured on Novus Television and KVOS. And the message is being delivered to schools across BC. Every hour Randel and Yeates are updated of more good news in regards to its exposure.
The team of working artists are dedicated to this cause. Randel’s short drama GLIMPSE recently won the NSI Short Filmmakers Award. GLIMPSE was funded by the Kick Start program, which has recently been cancelled due to the funding cuts. Also, Randel’s short horror film JACK won four awards including the Grand Jury Prize at the Bloodshots Film Festival. Yeates just finished a whirlwind international tour with her one woman plays SOME RECKLESS ABANDON. Her work has been supported by the BC Arts Council in the past and she’s hoping to get funding for her latest project. Cara was just awarded the first ever Joanna Marratta award for artistic achievement and community leadership at the Vancouver Fringe.
At the moment, all of Randel and Yeates’ energies are concentrated on getting the PSA screened everywhere they can. Yeates notes “as artists we are fighting these cuts the best way we know how, through our art.”
The following written submission was delivered in person by Norman Armour, Executive Director of the PuSh Festival, to Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts for The Province of British Columbia at a roundtable session held October 15.
Of course, it was Quebec.
This rather distressing fact was revealed near the end of Charles Campbell’s interesting piece on the Tyee site about the reaction of James Moore, the federal Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, to the BC Government’s recent bizarre attack on arts funding. You know you’re in strange, lonely territory when the Reform – I mean – Conservative Party indicates that your policy may be a little extreme.
I was pleased to see Moore make the economic case for the arts so clearly but Campbell really left the best stuff for last. Moore was in town to announce that the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) was receiving over $460,000 from something called the Marquee Tourism Events Program (who names these things?). This, apparently, was the program that dropped all that cash on the PNE last month. It would seem that VIFF learned of the grant just a few weeks before the Festival was due to start and it has to be spent, um, NOW. That's okay but the money is apparently designed to help organizations attract tourists to their events– especially the, you know, foreign kind. How VIFF is supposed to spend half a mil in two weeks to attract international travellers is rather curious, to say the least.
Don’t you love living in a country run by such visionaries?
Campbell further reports that VIFF had used its $70,000 Gaming grant (which was of course taken away) for outreach to schools, multicultural groups and the underprivileged. So, yes, one level of government seems to have taken away a source of useful funding while another level of government trots along with a shed-load of money that is for a virtually useless activity.
Now, both the BC Liberals and the Federal Tories love to preach the discipline of the marketplace and the cult of business-efficiencies, which is fine, I suppose. However, if Gordon Campbell or Stephen Harper had ever had to fight their way in the world of real business with these sorts of loopy beliefs, they would have risen no higher than sorting mail in the basement.
Oh, and if you’re curious, as I was, VIFF is the fourth BC event to receive money from the Marquee Tourism fund: the others are the Cloverdale Rodeo ($345,900), Vancouver International Jazz Festival ($712,500) and the good old, PNE ($1.38 million).
In addition to the International Balloon Festival in some place called St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, we learn that for some reason the Toronto Film Festival received six times the grant VIFF received for a festival, if I understand correctly, that while much more famous, actually screens the same number of films to the same number of people.
If you're upset about the cuts, consider joining the new Facebook Group - Organizing against Campbell's cuts to the arts.
Or send out tweets on Twitter with the following oh-so-eloquent subject: #bcartscutssuck
Get out and voice your concern!
On June 17, 1999, the Province of BC signed an agreement with the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming (BCACG). This contract provides a number of principles which should govern the relationship of these two entities. At the press conference this morning, MLA Spencer Herbert referred to this agreement and stated that it was still in effect. The BCACG also referenced this agreement in recent news stories, declaring that the BC government is not living up to its commitments.
Among other things, the agreement affirms the role of licenced charities as the sole beneficiaries of bingo gaming, including both paper and electronic bingo. It also offers a commitment of a minimum of $125 million annually, indexed annually at the rate of Vancouver CPI, with a formula that ensures charity entitlement to an amount, after retained bingo revenues, equal to 1/3 of ongoing government net community casino gaming revenue. And, it promises that the Province will consult in a meaningful way with charities in the development of gaming policy changes that may affect charities.