Thursday, September 08, 2011

An opportunity to be heard

It isn't very often that ordinary people get to play a direct role in decisions about their governance. But yesterday provided just such an opportunity.

This July, Skip Triplett was chosen to conduct a series of public gatherings that would allow such input to occur. The focus of these sessions is the current state of gaming grants to community groups in British Columbia.

Anyone who visits this blog knows that I often write about the arts and that I frequently find myself needing to advocate on their behalf -- especially since there have been such deep cuts to funding. Heck, I've even 'gone out on a limb' and stopped buying lottery tickets!

Yesterday's session, held in Surrey, drew presentations not only from a range of arts groups, but from crime prevention groups, athletic organizations, and associations that offer child care programs or shelter for women and children escaping violence.

In every instance, the message was the same. Our community is assisted or enriched by the services we provide. Our funding has been cut. We don't know how we can carry on.

Nearly every group shared accounts of having to vacate premises, lay off staff, reduce or cancel services. 

But on the other hand, every group offered concrete suggestions for how the situation might be improved.

There was a wonderful atmosphere of cooperation and understanding. It felt as though we were really all reaching for answers.

Best of all, Mr Triplett actually seemed not only to listen, but to care. He's keeping a blog of what he learns at these sessions. And he's also willing to hear from others who aren't able to attend the hearings.

All I can hope is that the spirit of positive change in the air at the session will translate into real change for arts and culture groups in this province.

[Vancouver residents, please note: hearings are scheduled for that city on Saturday, September 17th.]

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