City hits wrong note in trumpeting arts

How convenient that the NEDC has released a study showing the arts and culture sector here amounts to about $150 million a year.

To the Editor,

Re: Study charts arts economic impact, Nov. 12.

How convenient that the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation has released a study showing the arts and culture sector here amounts to about $150 million a year in direct business and spin-offs.

Well this really adds some weight to council’s recent investments, doesn’t it? It helps justify our tax dollars being spent on the purchase of a theatre, the renovation of the art gallery, and subsidies for Port Place and the convention centre, to name only a few examples. I mean what’s a couple million dollars’ investment in light of the hundreds of millions the booming arts and culture scene will produce for Nanaimo, right?

Wrong. Taking a closer look at NEDC’s study, it’s lumped in such things as software development (creating web pages, making games), and publishing (newspapers, magazines). While these areas might fall into someone’s definition of arts and culture, these businesses are doing fine without any subsidies from Nanaimo city council, not because they want to, but because they’ve had to.

The portion of the sector that is receiving money from council probably amounts to less than 10 per cent of economic activity in this sector. But now with council’s investments, that should show a measureable increase next year, at least in the construction sector.

I just don’t see the rationale behind council’s investments. It skimps and saves on the basic services we all need, meanwhile it’s totally spend happy with pet projects and salaries.

What I’d like council to do is stop spending on frivolous things until such time as it gets its house in order. Show us you can go one year without increasing taxes or bumping up our rates. Because in the real world people don’t get two to three per cent pay increases every year, and a visit to the new art gallery is not going to help us pay our bills.

Brendan Millbankvia e-mail