In addition to providing general information you'll need about voting in British Columbia in the May 9 provincial election, this section provides background information on why the issue of increased investment in BC's arts and cultural sector is an important one to get on the agenda of political candidates.
Elections BC is the custodian of that right on behalf of BC voters. Elections BC is an independent and non-partisan Office of the Legislature.
Elections BC administers provincial general elections and by-elections, recall petitions, initiative petitions and initiative votes, the conduct of referenda and plebiscites, and local elections and assent voting campaign financing and advertising rules. By doing so in a fair and impartial way, Elections BC makes sure that British Columbians have full access to their democratic rights.
Find full details about registering to vote, checking or updating your voter information, how to vote and more on the Elections BC website at elections.bc.ca.
Who Can Vote?
To be eligible to vote in the provincial election, you must be:
- 18 or older on General Voting Day,
- a Canadian citizen,
- a resident of B.C. for the six months before General Voting Day, and
- registered to vote
Register to Vote
You can register to vote online, by phone, by mail, fax or email, or in person. You can also register when you vote during an election.
Why Culture Matters In British Columbia
In communities large and small throughout BC, there are more people engaging in arts, cultural and heritage activities than ever before. Why? Because at the very core of our existence is the need for individual expression and the creation of our own identity.
Across the province, people are enrolling in dance classes, learning how to play the guitar, writing code for video games, or simply expressing themselves by keeping a daily journal. More and more, people are finding ways to balance their need for technology with their need to connect and participate in their communities.
The arts encompass more than the symphony, gallery and theatre; they also include the video games that we play, the movies that we watch, the magazines that we read, the architecture that we inhabit, the music that we enjoy, the designs that we wear, the food that we eat — the list goes on. We experience creativity every day in numerous ways. As human beings, we are all creative by nature because all that we do is an expression of ourselves. Arts, culture and heritage are some of the most enduring representations of human expression.
Getting Started: Strengthening the Value of the Cultural Sector
The BC Alliance for Arts + Culture is proposing two strategies be implemented by the provincial government to strengthen the value of our cultural sector:
Strategy 1: Develop a New Provincial Cultural Policy
We propose that our provincial government develop a cultural policy that prioritizes:
- Recognition of culture as a pillar in the economy;
- Integration of culture in education, social services, health and wellness;
- Promotion of diversity, inclusion and community cohesion;
- Ensuring consistency and transparency in cultural investment;
- Support of creation, research and innovation.
Strategy 2: Acknowledge and Support the Value of Culture
We propose that our provincial government acknowledge and support the value of culture in British Columbia by:
- Promoting cultural value by publicizing and advertising its impact and therefore broadening awareness of its importance, relevance and contributions to society at large;
- Publicly advocating for the benefits of cultural investment;
- Expanding the mandate of organizations like the BC Arts Council to promote the benefits and impact of culture;
- Investing in cultural sector human resources to fuel talent, efficiency and consumer activity;
- Researching and publishing meaningful statistics and findings on the impact of culture in our province.
Quick Facts on Provincial Arts & Culture
There is growing support globally that cultural value or engagement with the arts is embedded in the individual experience and in our capacity to be economically innovative and creative.
Provincial investment in a vibrant cultural sector is important to the social and economic prosperity of our province. It fosters a desirable environment for business development and community growth and fosters a strong sense of belonging and wellbeing in its citizenship, enhancing the quality of life for all British Columbians.
The arts, culture, heritage and creative sector is an essential component of British Columbia’s competitive creative economy.
With a combined workforce of over 81,385 cultural workers and a cultural GDP of $6.7 billion, BC’s cultural sector reaches into every corner of the province and has a substantial impact on hundreds of thousands of citizens each year. British Columbia has more artists per capita than any other province and the third-highest cultural GDP in Canada.
An investment in the cultural sector is an investment in the potential of human creativity.
The BC Alliance for Arts + Culture recognizes and values the provincial government’s long-standing investment in the cultural sector. Despite increases in 2013/2014 to that investment, however, BC has not kept pace with other provincial jurisdictions in Canada.
In 2016/2017, Statistics Canada and statistics from provincial funding agencies show that BC ranks seventh in per-capita provincial arts councils spending on culture.
Each year that the BC government investment is flat-lined, BC’s cultural sector becomes less competitive and less stable and the cultural workforce falls further behind.
*Statistics above are based on Statistics Canada's Provincial and Territorial Culture Indicators, 2010 to 2014
Provincial and federal government funding tends to be lower for BC arts organizations than similar organizations in other provinces.
Making the Case for Support
Why does the provincial government need to increase the investment in the BC Arts Council?
1. To support the increase in creative activity in all regions of the province and invest in people working in the creative economy.
2. To recognize the value of arts and culture by acknowledging their important contribution to society. UNESCO and the UN have declared that “the arts improve the quality of life and contribute to a healthy, vibrant community”.
3. To increase the stability and capacity of arts organizations and artists in BC and improve the health of the whole ecosystem. An increased investment would help the arts build ties with other sectors – business, healthcare, education, housing and immigration, and increase the economic and social cohesion of communities.
4. To play an important role in the reconciliation and healing process with Indigenous communities where art has saved lives.
5. To enable the BC Arts Council to support the underserved equity-seeking communities in BC where there is a real need for increased investment in cultural diversity and inclusion.
6. To support artistic research, development and innovation and allow for more collaborations between diverse disciplines and cultures.
What are the priority areas for increased funding at the BC Arts Council?
1. An increased investment in arts and cultural activities in rural BC, specifically in community arts councils. There are more practising artists working in BC than ever before but they do not have the resources they need to make significant contributions to their communities.
2. An increase to the level of core operating grants. Core operating support is essential to leverage funding from other sources, create jobs, and contribute to the creative economy. Increased investment would result in more creative activity and much needed capacity building for organizational stability across BC. It would also enable existing organizations to support more individual artists in their communities via collaborations and partnerships.
3. An investment in Indigenous and equity-seeking artists. Dedicated funding at the BC Arts Council is essential to ensure its ability to work with an equity lens to support opportunities for collaboration between diverse disciplines and cultures.
4. Increased funding for artistic research and development to enable innovation and growth in the cultural sector. There is also a need to invest in data collection to measure the significant social and economic impact of arts and culture in BC communities.
5. Increased investment in regional, national and international touring of BC artists to build the profile of British Columbia and generate significant economic activity for arts organizations and governments.
How would an increase to the BC Arts Council benefit the cultural sector?
How would an increased investment in the cultural sector benefit the people of BC?
1. An investment in equity and inclusivity would create more diversity in the cultural sector and thereby represent the multilingual population of BC.
2. There would be greater investment in the network of community arts councils throughout BC to empower local artists to build creative relationships and improve the health and wellbeing of their communities.
3. An increased investment would begin to address the gap between professional and non-professional artists and enable the BCAC to revise their guidelines to increase access to funding for small, volunteer-run arts organizations in remote areas of the province who are currently ineligible to apply.
4. Increased investment would generate more cross-disciplinary work and social innovation in the arts, culture and heritage sector.
5. There would be more resources to invest in human capital for the purpose of training, professional development and paid mentorships and in raising more artists out of poverty by enabling them to collaborate across disciplines.
6. BC companies could leverage provincial investment for matching funds from the federal government for capital projects.
7. Increased investment would enable more regional, national and international touring of BC artists, develop cultural networks and facilitate international collaborations to make arts organizations more sustainable.
8. There would be more research and innovation hubs for arts, culture and heritage to incubate new ideas and strengthen the creative economy.
9. With an increased investment in the sector, there would be more risk-taking and innovation, enabling the arts to become more accessible and relevant to a younger generation.
1. An investment in the arts is an investment in the potential of human creativity. The arts express who we are and are an essential part of our identity formation. Art isn’t just for arts sake. Creativity intersects every aspect of our lives improving mental health and making us better citizens. The intersection of creativity and education are equally vital for innovation.
2. Investing in the cultural sector builds healthier communities, fostering less racism, better integration of diversity, social inclusion and a sense of belonging. The arts help us see the world differently. They nurture entrepreneurship and promote democracy.
3. The arts are an important tool for reconciliation with BC Indigenous communities via knowledge sharing.
4. The cultural sector fosters volunteerism, which is essential to our wellbeing and an important part of civil society.
5. An increased investment in the cultural sector would make the arts accessible to everyone and promote a greater understanding of the value of arts, culture, heritage, creativity and innovation.
6. Increased investment in the sector increases cultural tourism and strengthens the creative economy.
7. BC would become a leader in arts education and arts innovation. There would be more arts focused on social innovation – youth at risk, seniors with dementia, issues of poverty and addiction. There would be more sharing of best practices across the social profit sector.
8. BC will be forward looking by investing in the creative economy knowing that the demand for intellectual workers will grow as jobs decrease in the labour force via technology. Artists are stewarding an environment that young people want to inherit.
9. A robust cultural sector also raises BC’s profile on the national and international stage.
What Else Can You Do?
Want to learn some strategies you can use to get arts and culture on the agenda in the 2017 provincial election? See our section entitled Getting Involved!