Prince Rupert is home to a vibrant arts community, and it’s leaders are looking for more support to help it grow.
On Nov. 26, dozens of people packed into the City of Prince Rupert’s council chambers hoping to make their presence felt as Lester Centre manager Michael Gurney made a passionate plea for an increase in funding for the Prince Rupert Community Arts Council (PRCAC).
For the past 20 years, the PRCAC has received $10,000 from the City which it uses to organize arts events in Prince Rupert and fund organizations that need money to put on their own productions.
“All of these things fall under the umbrella of the arts council as a body,” said Gurney in a later interview.
Gurney cited Harbour Theatre as an organization that uses funding from the council to put on its shows throughout the year. The award winning troupe hosts a number of community favourites including War of Wits and Hook, Line and Snicker.
Funding also allows the PRCAC to host annual community events such as the Creative Jam or the Kaien Island Craft Fair, which provides a platform for local vendors to market their wares.
PRCAC president Sandy Jones said unfortunately, $10,000 is no longer enough to meet all of those needs, and the council has increasingly had to make hard choices between which organizations and events receive support.
“All you can do is spend the money you have right? So we’ve had to say no to different organizations and cut back on the amount we’re already giving people,” she said. “That’s not always the wrong thing, but this year we sat down and have had some difficult meetings.
“It’s just hard decisions that have to be made and that’s never a happy place to be.”
Gurney made those same points in his speech to council on Nov. 26, stating that the council has been forced to “more and more with the same dollar that purchases less and less.”
Unfortunately for the arts council, City council had already decided to tighten its bootstraps and not increase funding to any organizations in its 2019 budget. Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain told Gurney and the people gathered in chambers that council planned toreassess how funds are distributed to give organizations a better chance at receiving the funding they require.
This was certainly music to Jones’s ears, who said that an increase to $20,000 would give the PRCAC enough to accommodate more requests each year.
“I think the point has been made, I think the city listened well,” she said. “It’s just a matter of what this new funding formula is going to look like and no one can predict that.”
Jones said she hope the arts council and other organizations will be able to give feedback as the reassessment process takes place next year.
“We’re all in this boat together,” she said.