Arts Council seeking $50,000 in tax funded support

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, August 8 2017

The Gabriola Arts Council (GAC) is pursuing a Regional District of Nanaimo tax allocation of $50,000 annually. As with the request being pursued by the Gabriola Island Community Hall Association, and previously completed for the GERTIE Bus and the Gabriola Museum, the cost of that allocation would be on the taxpayers of Electoral Area B.

In a press release sent to the Sounder by GAC Executive Director Michelle Benjamin, the GAC says while the BC Arts Council considers the GAC to be one of the top five community arts councils in the province, “GAC is one of the only arts councils in the province that does not receive 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, and support this work with reliable, sustainable funding.”

In the absence of municipal funding (as Gabriola is not a municipality), the GAC is seeking the funding from the RDN.

The GAC has an operating budget of $100,000 annually.

“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 financial cost to taxpayers would be as follows:

If GAC is successful in obtaining the funding, the increase to taxes would go on the 2019 tax year.

Based on current property values (average home assessment is $333,000), a $50,000 allocation to GAC will cost $4.40 per $100,000 of property value. If a house is worth $330,000, the cost to the owners will be $14.85 per year.

GAC will be going through a two-step process.

The first will be to begin collecting signatures on a petition - the goal is a minimum of 800 ratepayer signatures in support of the intiative.

If those signatures are collected, and if the RDN approves it, a referendum would then be held in October of next year, in conjunction with the 2018 Local Government Elections.

This would be a separate referendum question on the ballot if the Community Hall Association (GICHA) Board is also successful in it’s application to have ratepayers vote on funding GICHA on that same ballot.

According to the press release, GAC generates a meaningful amount of money for the Gabriola community through wages and project expenses.
In the 2015-16 fiscal year, 77% of GAC’s entire budget of $204,000 was spent locally—to Gabriola artists, freelancers, contractors, businesses, organizations, and individuals. 

Almost 60% of that money came from off-island sources. In the first half of GAC’s current fiscal year (November 2016 to June 2017), those numbers have increased significantly.$236,000 has been paid out locally (81% of total expenditures), and 65% of that came from off-Island (primarily for the Arts Centre building project). 

The GAC says these figures don’t include the estimated $300,000 of revenue generated annually for artists on the Studio Tour, Street Art, and the Night Market. 

Nor does this estimate include the spin-offs to Gabriola businesses who benefit from off-islanders who attend GAC events, or the extended value of providing employment to numerous Gabriola residents—part-time, full-time, contract, and freelance.

The press release concluded stating, “recognizing the value that the Gabriola Arts Council brings to the community, GAC hopes that community members will be eager to support GAC’s ongoing operations through a small but meaningful tax increase.”