Alberni arts council loses partial grant funds

The Community Arts Council of Alberni will have to make do with less this year, as they have lost more than 40 per cent of their funding

The Community Arts Council of the Alberni Valley will have to make do with less this year, as they have lost more than 40 per cent of their funding.

“We applied for $17,000 and only received $10,000,” said Melissa Martin, arts administrator for the community arts council.

“It’s a significant amount, and it’s been drastically reduced year after year.

“This was a huge blow to us.”

The arts council depends on two major grants, from the BC Arts Council and a gaming grant, to operate. Martin also applies for several smaller annual grants, and sometimes is successful, she said.

Two years ago the arts council lost funding and it meant an employee had to be laid off.

This time, it’s cutting into children’s programs and supplies, Martin said.

“Here I’m trying to expand in that area and I’m getting less money. So I have to be more creative.”

When Martin was hired three years ago she made a commitment to increase arts programming for children in the Alberni Valley, since schools have been forced to cut funding to arts programs. She has cultivated a good relationship with the school district and regularly pairs artists with schools.

Arts are important because they are a part of everyone’s life in some way.

“Art brings peace, it brings joy, it brings happiness to people. it’s the same with children,” she said.

“They need an outlet. They need joy and light in their life.

“We have to teach children life skills and that includes the arts.”

One of the things that makes the arts council unique is that it has a building and gardens that need to be maintained. Gaming grants cannot be used on the building, but when gaming funds are cut it means the arts council must take money from elsewhere to pay for the building’s upkeep, Martin explained.

This is an example of how cuts to gaming grants have a trickle-down effect.

“It’s a domino effect; now we have to sharpen our pencils more and rely on the community more.”

The Kurucz family held a fundraiser last weekend at the Capitol Theatre for the arts council and that was successful, Martin said. The event was sold out (230 seats), and they hadn’t expected to sell all 230 seats.

The Kuruczes—who call themselves The Travelers—plan another fundraiser in January 2014.

editor@albernivalleynews.com