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Letter: Ahead of Monday’s meeting, Penticton Arts Council pens passionate letter to city about funding cuts

Cuts sends large signal to the community that city no longer values arts and culture, says PDCAC
The Vancouver-based brass band Balkan Shmalkan led the Parade for No Reason in downtown Penticton for the start of the Ignite the Arts Festival weekend organized by Penticton Art Gallery and Penticton Arts Council who have both had their funding cut by the city. (Brennan Phillips)

Penticton Art Gallery curator Paul Crawford and board president Dr. Claude Roberto will be attending City Council at Monday, April 3 at 10 a.m. to review their grant. Supporters welcome.

Re: In Support of the Penticton Art Gallery

Attn: Mayor & Council

The Penticton & District Community Arts Council (PDCAC) is very grateful for the past and current support and partnership with the City of Penticton and City Staff. We understand the enormity of the scope of managing a city the size of Penticton, the limitations of current budgets, and the learning curve that comes with new City Council members.

There have been several actions by City Staff and Council that have led to confusion as to the strength of this partnership and what this telegraphs to the greater community regarding the City’s commitment to arts and culture and your support of reconciliation, diversity, equitability, and inclusion in our community.

At the community grant deliberations there seemed to be confusion from several City Councillors as to the process, where they should be looking at the documents regarding the information they were voting on (after several votes had already passed) and regarding “surpluses” on not-for-profit budgets. As an applicant, this did not instill confidence in the grant review and voting process. The discussion around the grant deliberations regarding “weening” applicants from City grant funding or requiring them to write five-year sustainability plans further signalled that Staff and Council misunderstand the spirit of the grants, the nature of not-for-profit grant cycles, capacity, and municipal support requirements from other funders.

The major cuts to the Penticton Art Gallery, without prior notice or adequate justification, is the largest signal that the City has sent to the community that it no longer prioritizes arts and culture. The PAG is a leader in our community when it comes to providing exhibitions and programming that are delivered within frameworks that uphold the values of reconciliation, diversity, equitability, and inclusion. Cuts to their funding, and the underfunding of other art groups, directly impacts these tenants and the folks that they include.

The PAG, like other art groups and events, is a tourism and economic driver. While several-day sporting events are supported to an extremely high degree by the City, arts and cultural events that provide year-round attractions, programming, and events are not. We are not advocating for less support for sports – we advocate for equal support for arts and sports. The arts and culture sector also supports the livability of the City and the day-to-day lives of the people of Penticton – many of whom may not benefit or interact with the larger sporting events.

The PDCAC and Penticton Art Gallery (PAG) no longer have City Council liaisons. This position was invaluable to our understanding of the mechanisms at City Hall, navigating the municipal processes, and having an ally on Council that would speak for our organization. The dissolution of the Arts & Culture and Heritage committees was also a disappointment as they were an opportunity for volunteers to meet and discuss the current and future needs affecting arts, culture, and heritage in our community. It is disappointing that the City no longer sees value in them.


- Re-establish the Penticton Art Gallery’s funding amounts for this current budget cycle.

- Include the Penticton Art Gallery and Penticton & District Community Arts Council as line items in the City budget with appropriate amounts.

- Create a transparent community granting process that is peer reviewed and does not solely rely on City Staff for recommendations.

- Ensure that City Councillors are fully trained to the granting process before they vote.

- Reinstate the Arts & Culture and Heritage advisory committees.

- Reinstate City Council liaisons for the PAG & the PDCAC.

- Create an Arts, Culture, and Heritage plan for the City of Penticton with a commitment to reconciliation, diversity, equity, and accessibility.


Penticton & District Community Arts Council Staff & Board of Directors

Stacy Franck, Board President

Shae Ayris, Vice President / Past President

McKaila Ferguson, Secretary

Judy Sentes, Director

James Raymond, Director

Chris Walters, Director

Bethany Handfield, Administrator

Serena Ebuchi, Office + Gallery Coordinator

Steven Russell, Programs + Exhibition Coordinator