PEI

P.E.I. Council of the Arts dissolving due to lack of funds

The P.E.I. Council of the Arts funding has ceased and the group is being dissolved.

Government will now come up with a new plan to get money to artists

The P.E.I. Council of the Arts grants will now be handed out in a new way. ( Gudea Rares/Shutterstock)

The P.E.I. Council of the Arts board has been dissolved after government funding to the organization was cut. 

The announcement was made Tuesday night to the membership of the not-for-profit organization, following the decision by the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture to cease funding them. 

In a letter to its membership, the arts council said the news was a shock. It said the department gave them enough money to pay off their final bills, but its only staff member has been laid off and their property tax bill is still outstanding.

"The board feel strongly that we have done everything to meet the Province's requests and regrettably, all board members have indicated their intention to resign from their positions, " the letter said.  "This leaves the operation of the PEI Council of the Arts in the hands of the membership until a new board is elected." 

The council has been in financial trouble for years now, but had been working to get back on its feet. Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture Doug Currie said his department was working with the organization but said in the end constant financial problems and tax liability led them to make a decision.

Best value of resource

"We put supports in place, they did make some gains but the government felt in respect to the mandate to getting the best value of the resources we have into the hand of artists ... we decided to go in this direction," Currie said.
Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture Doug Currie says he wants to cut back on administration costs (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

The government plans to look for a new way of running things, one that will involve less administrative costs. The organization received over $200,000 in government funding and of that, only $94,000 went to grants.

"There's a substantial volume of money that was going to administrative overhead so we're going to be looking at opportunities to see how we can get more of those resources into the hands of the artists and musicians," said Currie. 

Artists upset

The announcement has left artists like Monica Lacey upset. The multidisciplinary artist who works in Charlottetown, said she couldn't believe the news. 

Artist, Monica Lacey wonders what will happen next (submitted)

"It was pretty upsetting and angry and hurt, it was pretty emotional, " Lacey said. 

"Working as an artist in a place this small already has its challenges. You know I've always been proud to say to people in other places that we are supported here and we have a wonderful arts council that supports us here with our work and encourages development of new work and now I can't say that anymore."

Lacey said besides the grant money, the organization provided a much needed voice to advocate on behalf of artists and she wonders what will happen next.

Currie said the government will come up with a system in order to jury the upcoming grant applications that are due on Sept. 30. He added a peer jury will still be involved and details of that process are expected to be announced in 10 days.

Following that, government will come up with a longer term plan of how to move forward. 

Corrections

  • This story previously stated members were informed Monday. In fact, they were informed Tuesday.
    Sep 01, 2016 8:46 AM AT

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