Several small arts groups in Greater Victoria are asking Santa to help them out this year.
The economy, the HST and the loss of provincial gaming grants are putting the squeeze on local arts funding and those feeling the pinch got together to try and come up with a solution.
“I knew the situation Intrepid was facing and I heard rumours about others facing similar situations,” said Ian Case, Intrepid Theatre general manager.
“Most organizations are reticent about saying they’re in trouble, so I got them together in a closed room, told them it was a safe place and said ‘let’s get down to brass tacks.’”
The groups involved all have annual budgets under $1 million and include Intrepid Theatre, Theatre SKAM, Puente Theatre, Kaleidoscope Theatre, Ballet Victoria, Theatre Inconnu, Suddenly Dance Theatre, Story Theatre Company, MediaNet, Blue Bridge Repertory Company and The Other Guys Theatre Company. Most of the groups have been operating in Victoria for more than 20 years and have a combined budget of more than $3.6 million spent locally every year. Together they perform for audiences of nearly 160,000 a year and provide opportunities for youth to participate in the arts as audiences, artists and volunteers.
The combined budget shortfall they are facing comes close to $280,000.
“Virtually everybody is in the same situation. Some are slightly more dire, but everybody’s hurting,” said Case.
The group decided to approach the Victoria Foundation for help, meeting with CEO Sandra Richardson to look at options.
“We decided that we would try to find a ‘challenger,’ someone who would donate $50, $75, $100,000, that they would guarantee for the fund if others would step forward and support it,” said Case.
“We do our best to be a champion for the arts sector,” said Richardson.
If $280,000 could be raised it would create stability for the 11 arts organizations, and more would help guarantee their futures.
“It’s the season of giving and if someone is willing to step forward, it will make a huge difference to these organizations. It would be great if the arts community could have a good Christmas and a happy new year to look forward to,” Case said.