Arts Cuts Damage Economy

Dec 19 2017, 12:40 pm

Imagine what the Vancouver Olympics would have looked like without any creative input. There’s no opening ceremony. No artists to play music every night in the concert venues. And many crazy things that would have been absent in our photos. The creativity that was behind this unforgettable event is also the second largest generator of Vancouver’s economy.

Two years later we are experiencing the effects of provincial funding cuts to the Arts and Heritage sector. The Parade of Lost Souls lost all of its public funding and didn’t even take place in 2009. Many public events like the Parade are struggling for funding. But if you go to Commercial Drive, you will preview the birth place of many Vancouver artists.

Meet Public Dreams, creators of the Parade of Lost Souls. A non-profit that strives to build economic opportunity for local artists and businesses, Public Dreams lost 40% of their budget after the provincial cuts. Call it creativity, Public Dreams is bouncing back with a minimal budget. Instead of letting the event collapse, Public Dreams created the Secret Souls Walk from the ashes of the Parade.


Many participants in the Parade of Lost Souls find their creative talent unlocked and move on to work in Vancouver’s well known film and performance industry. Kira Schaeffer (pictured above) started her career in the Parade, then started her own business Firebelly Performance Society, performed artistic work in the Athens, Torino, and Vancouver Olympics, and is now teaching up and coming artists in the community. Paul Bray, another Parade prodigy, founded his own company Sambata performing and teaching Brazilian percussion in Vancouver.

Samantha Jo Simmons of Public Dreams points out that the arts are not an alternative lifestyle, but are an essential part of our culture. The provincial cuts actually damaged the starting point for the creative economy. Why? The creative industry is a “knowledge-based economy”. Creativity is acquired knowledge that is learned in events like the Parade of Lost Souls. Talents used to create special effects, costumes, and puppets in high budget Vancouver movies are “created” in community events. The stilt walker behind the snow monster in the “Empire Strikes Back” is a direct application of this talent.


BC Stats found that for every $52 million generated in the arts sector $12 million is generated in other sectors. Now that you know more about the creative industry, would you reverse the funding cuts to artistic programs?

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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