Gabriola Arts Council Seeking New Funds

 The Gabriola Arts Council is pursuing a Regional District tax contribution of $50,000 annually.

The Gabriola Arts Council is one of only a few community arts councils in British Columbia that does not receive regional district and/or municipal operating funds. Around B.C. and across the country, local governments recognize the value that locally-based arts programming brings to a community. In the absence of municipal funding, we are pursuing regional district funding. This will bring GAC in line with other arts councils in B.C., and will ensure that we can continue the successful operation of our lively organization that so enhances community life on Gabriola.

GAC has been successful at attracting both private and public funding for our building project, and for direct support of our events and programs. Funders and donors recognize the value and quality of the work we do, and have supported our projects in recognition of our ability to creatively, responsibly, and effectively make use of funding dollars.

However, many government funding agencies will only match local government funds. Without this source of support, GAC is often ineligible for specific grants and programs (and therefore unable to bring new money to the community), and unable to leverage that funding into additional financial support.

[You can help! Download a copy of the petition here. Collect signatures and either drop off the petition at the GAC office or contact us to come pick it up.]

Who Is GAC?

  • The Gabriola Arts Council is a community arts council that provides arts and cultural services to the Gabriola community for more than 20 years. We organize three big cultural festivals each year (Isle of the Arts Festival, Gabriola Theatre Festival, Thanksgiving Studio Tour). This year, we’ve added a new Music Festival. We also run a Healing Power of Art program that provides art therapy and creative experiences at no charge to community members. This program has had very positive feedback. GAC also operates an ongoing Youth Engagement program.
  • Our Vision is a creative, engaged, and inclusive community sustaining Gabriola’s vibrant island culture. Click here to see our complete Strategic Plan (which will be revised and updated in Fall 2017).
  • Our Mission is to engage, enhance, and inspire the community’s cultural vitality through collaboration, leadership, and service.
  • Based on the events and programming we offer, the BC Arts Council considers GAC to be one of the top five performing community arts councils in the province. We’ve achieved this status without regional district funding. Imagine what we might do with stable, long-term funding in place!
  • In 2017, GAC was awarded the Community Stewardship Award in recognition of 20 years of supporting and enhancing the artistic, cultural, and social environment of Gabriola and Mudge Islands.
  • GAC is a volunteer-driven organization, that is overseen by a hardworking volunteer board of directors. More than 100 regular volunteers provide support for our events and programs.
  • We have more than 700 members on Gabriola and Mudge Islands. Our membership includes artists in all disciplines and practices, but many of our members are non-artists who support the work GAC does in the community and want to be part of what we do.

What will GAC do with the new funds?

GAC has proven itself to be a fiscally responsible organization, with the ability to raise operating funds through earned revenue, donations, and grants from a variety of public sources. A steady and reliable stream of operating money will allow us to:

  • continue to offer fantastic cultural events at affordable prices. For example, Theatre Festival ticket prices have increased only once in the Festival’s nine years. Most Isle of the Arts Festival workshop registration fees are under $30.
  • continue to offer vital, life-changing programming at no cost to participants. The Healing Power of Art programs (currently GAC offers one for those living with a life-challenging illness, one for elders, and one for adults with special needs) are offered at no charge to ensure there are no barriers to participation.
  • manage and maintain the newly renovated and upgraded Gabriola Arts & Heritage Centre, and ensure that it is available for community groups and other users for a variety of purposes—meetings, classes, performances, private functions, etc. This valuable community asset received a complete makeover this year, thanks to a skilled work crew funded by a joint Federal-Provincial program, and numerous other individual and institutional donors. The building was completely re-wired and fully insulated, and a heat pump was installed. The generous donation of solar panels has reduced operating costs immensely. We now have potable water, a wheelchair-accessible washroom, new floors, and much more—all to ensure that this beloved old building (one of three original one-room schoolhouses on Gabriola) is available and accessible to the community for the next 100 years.
  • continue to operate the Gabriola Arts Council in the responsible, effective way we’ve done for twenty years. Support for our work has increased significantly over the past five years—our membership has grown from 242 members in January 2012 to 700-plus members today—a 300% increase!

We estimate our annual operating budget outside of specific event costs is just over $100,000. We are committed to raising half of those funds through a variety of channels, and we are turning to the community for the other $50,000.

The process has two key steps: 1. a petition, which we will be working on in late August, through which GAC will collect a minimum of 800 ratepayer signatures in support of this initiative; and then, 2. a referendum question on the ballot at the October 2018 election.

What does this mean for you?

If you pay property taxes on Gabriola Island, this will mean an increase to your property tax starting in the 2019 tax year. Based on current property values (average house price is $333,000), a $50,000 allocation to GAC will cost $4.40 per $100,000 of property value. If your house is worth the average price of $330,000, the cost to you will be $14.85 per year. If your house is worth $250,000, your cost will be $11. If your house is valued at $800,000, your increase will be $35.20.

We know this is not insignificant. Comparisons to a couple of cappuccinos or a pizza are only helpful if those items are already in your budget, and if you can afford the additional expenditure of this amount each year. Which is why we are committed to being responsible with these funds, and ensuring that there is clear community benefit.

How will you benefit?

GAC can commit to continuing to offer high-quality, interesting, entertaining, educational, and all-around wonderful artistic and cultural programming. We’ll be looking for input from community members later this year as we create our new three-year plan, and look ahead to plan the next few years of events and programming. We promise to create opportunities to offer feedback and suggestions, and we assure you that we will listen carefully to all advice.

What has GAC done for you lately?

Not an artist? Not sure that GAC has anything to do with you? Only about 20% of GAC’s members are working artists. The rest are art lovers, audience members, workshop participants, community workers, and general supporters of arts and culture in the community. GAC membership is for everyone!

Here are the many ways that GAC supports our Gabriola community:

Economic Development

GAC generates a meaningful amount of money for the Gabriola community through wages and project expenses. Here’s are some recent highlights:

  • In our 2015-16 fiscal year, 77% of our entire budget ($204,000) was spent locally—this money went to Gabriola artists, freelancers, contractors, businesses, organizations, and individuals. Almost 60% of that money was raised from off-island sources.
  • In the first HALF of our current fiscal year (November 2016 to June 2017), those numbers have increased significantly. $236,000 has been paid out locally—that’s 81% of our total expenditures. 65% of that money came from off-Island sources. (This increase is a one-time anomaly because of our building project; however, our revenue and expenses have been increasing year after year for the past ten years.)
  • GAC currently directly employs 7 people in full- or part-time/contract positions. We have also created 5 additional (temporary) full-time jobs paid directly through other (off-Island) sources. That’s 12 local jobs, and even more money injected into the local economy. Studies show that locally spent money generates 3.5 times more wealth for the local economy.
  • These figures don’t include the estimated $300,000 of revenue generated directly for artists on the studio tour each year [60 studios x average $5,000], and additional money earned at other GAC events such as Street Art and the Night Market. This results in even more money injected into the local economy.
  • These estimates do not include the spin-offs to Gabriola businesses and other organizations that benefit from off-islanders who attend GAC events.

Community and Individual Health and Wellbeing

Significant research indicates that participation in the arts—as creator or observer—is a strong indicator of individual and community health and wellness [click here to read just one article about this]. The following information comes from a series of research studies conducted by Sharon McCoubrey, Coordinator of Community Engagement for the Faculty of Education at UBC.

The Arts contribute to social well-being because they …

  • enrich the experience of life (PoGs, 2007);
  • are vital for the progress of civilizations (Dieleman, 2008; Sacco and Segre, 2009);
  • provide pleasure and relaxation (Bunting, 2007);
  • provide challenge, amusement, fun, and relaxation (Bunting, 2007);
  • are integral to healing and resilience (Green and Sonn, 2008);
  • assist in recovery, communication and understanding, and in the management of pain, stress, and other symptoms (Staricoff, 2004; Argyle and Bolton, 2005);
  • strengthen community identity and social cohesion.

Benefits of Engagement and participation in the arts

A sense of belonging: Participation in cultural experiences leads to connections, engagements, social interactions, and a sense of belonging.

Improved sense of well-being: Evidence indicates “that participating seniors had an improved sense of well-being and social inclusion.”

Nurture creativity: “In a global economy, the competitive advantage is going to go to the creative societies and anything we can do to invest better in that which underpins creativity is going to have an economic, not just a social spin-off … Creative thinking is essential to the development of the human race and our society.”

A 2010 study called “The Arts & Individual Well-Being in Canada” determined that the results of engaging in a variety of cultural activities (including art gallery attendance, theatre attendance, live music attendance, and cultural festival attendance, the resulting Social Indicators include:

  • have very good or excellent health and mental health
  • are more likely to volunteer
  • feel less trapped in daily routines
  • are more likely to know many or most of their neighbours
  • are more likely to have done a favour for a neighbour in the past month
  • are more likely to have a very strong satisfaction with life

An overview study conducted by Arts Health Network Canada determined that:

  • participation in the arts correlates with greater longevity and positive perceptions of one’s health.
  • engaging in arts programs enables seniors to live independently longer, and reduces use of doctors, medications, and medical facilities while enhancing quality of life.
  • creative arts therapies provide avenues for healing for those who have suffered from trauma.
  • arts activities provide vehicles to explore solutions to pressing social issues, including addiction, bullying, domestic violence, as well as dementia, depression, loneliness, and anxiety.

Participation in the Arts

A study in the British Medical Association’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health considered these questions, and revealed these findings:

Is there a difference between participating and attending? Or doing and receiving? Both are beneficial; participation is better.

Is there a difference between the experience of men and women? Both benefit, but the benefits are stronger for men. For men, passive activities such as taking in a concert or museum exhibition are associated with an upbeat mood and better health. For women, the link is active—they were less likely to feel anxious, depressed or feel unwell if they played music or created art.

Is there a difference for socio-economic status? People who go to museums and concerts or create art or play an instrument are more satisfied with their lives, regardless of how educated or rich they are.

What About Youth?

In their 2006 report “Making the Case for Culture,” the Creative City Network of Canada found six arguments for using the arts to promote youth development. They determined that learning through the arts enhances learning in other areas and general scholastic achievement. In addition, they determined that the arts:

  • are an effective outreach tool to engage youth;
  • build resilience and self-esteem in young people;
  • contribute to creating healthy and supportive communities for youth;
  • help in the successful transition to adulthood and the development of in-demand job skills;
  • offer opportunities for youth leadership development and for youth to affect positive change in their communities;
  • empower youth, especially youth-at risk, to succeed in school and develop skills and relationships that contribute to success in later life.

The evidence is clear. The Gabriola Arts Council supports, enriches, and engages the local community. Please support GAC when you are asked to sign your name on the upcoming petition.


What about the Community Hall?

The Gabriola Community Hall is also seeking support for a tax allocation, for general operations, ongoing maintenance, and future renovations. As regular users of this important facility and venue, GAC fully supports their initiative, and acknowledges the value of the Community Hall to the local community. A regular contribution through the taxation process is the ideal and sustainable way to support community development. Please support both of these campaigns!

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