This is an archived site. For the latest news, visit us at our new home:


John Cameron



Mixed arts messages

By Robyn Tocker


Photo by Robyn Tocker. Musician John Cameron (left) is wary of the cuts to the arts.



When you flip open the contents of a provincial budget, the words that will jump off the front page are “education,” “health,” and “infrastructure.” If you do some digging, you’ll come across the parks, culture, and sports section which gives a run-down of what is being cut (or added to) in the provincial arts scene. For the 2014-2015 provincial budget, happily titled “Steady Growth,” the arts took a hit.


The Saskatchewan Arts Board had a small growth of just about $200,000 and Creative Saskatchewan, a recent addition to Saskatchewan’s cultural environment, received the $1.1 million that used to fund the administrative side of SaskFILM. The Film Employment Tax Credit, which made big news when it was announced there would be a severe cut back in 2013, has seen further decreases. In the 2013-2014 budget, they had received $5 million, and this year will only receive $2.5 million. In total, Saskatchewan’s culture funding decreased by roughly $2.9 million.


Kevin Doherty, minister of parks, culture, and sport, said that he doesn’t see these as decreases. Since the SaskFILM program doesn’t exist anymore, or is “winding down,” the funding for it had to be moved. He also spoke of the eight per cent increase to the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the three per cent increase to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and other parks across the province.


“These are important inflationary increases, if nothing else, in a very, very tight budget,” said Doherty.


The minister also mentioned how there will still be funding for programs like artsVest for Saskatchewan artists.


“There's an awful lot of money going into arts and culture programs in this province,” he said.


Cathy SprouleCathy Sproule, the critic for parks, culture, and sport, said there wasn’t much worth noting in that particular section of the budget. She pointed out how the Film Employment Tax Credit had not been reinstated which was a huge blow to the cultural community in Saskatchewan.


“We still think we could have a viable Film Employment Tax Credit in the province but it wasn't mentioned at all in the budget, which is very disappointing,” Sproule said.


When asked about the budget itself, she said it was very flat this year.


“There's no new money so when (the government) talk(s) about all the things going up, you can be sure there are cuts elsewhere. They're just not talking about them,” said Sproule.


She also mentioned how Creative Saskatchewan didn’t receive nearly enough funding this year.


Creative Saskatchewan CEO J.P. Ellson said that while Creative Saskatchewan has received an increase in administrative funding, the investment funding is the same as last year.


“We're very happy about the money we have,” he said. “All the industries will be quite happy with what we'll be able to give them in the next 12 months.”


Creative Saskatchewan has only been around since last October, and its purpose isn’t known by many. Ellson said the company assists the creative industry associations with operational funding and helps in professional development activities. Creative Saskatchewan also coordinates international marketing in all creative industries.


Marnie Gladwell, the director of Saskatchewan Arts Alliance, said she is pleased things are remaining steady in the arts. Without knowing the exact details yet, she said it is hard to say what the budget means for the arts.


“We need to look at the budget globally because (the arts) transcends into other ministries,” said Gladwell.


But for artists across the province whose careers can be affected by cuts to the culture allocations, what do they think about the budget? John Cameron, a member of the Regina-based band These Estates said that when an artist hears the budget has decreased but certain areas, like administration, have increased, it makes artists wary to seek funding.


“There’s less funding and what is available may not go to me, so why even bother going after it at all?” said Cameron.


Being a part of the arts community in Saskatchewan is to be ambassadors for Saskatchewan, said Cameron. It is difficult to be an artist in the Prairies when you are far from big industries located in Toronto or Vancouver, so when an artist receives funding in Saskatchewan, “it is supposed to help broadcast that you don't need to go far to make art,” he said.


Depending on where you look, or at what angle you squint, the arts and culture scene could be looking good, or less than appealing. But with or without the funding, Saskatchewan artists will keep creating.