Column: What are the arts?

During the Second World War, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort.

During the Second World War, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort. He replied “then what are we fighting for?”

So what are the “Arts?”

The broad definition includes both visual arts, film and media, heritage and museums, community engaged arts, literary arts, festivals, the creative industries along with other creative expressions that may not fit into those categories. Last Thursday a Community Cultural Round Table was held at the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society.

It was part of a province-wide project undertaken by the BC Alliance for Arts and Culture and Arts BC.

Kevin Dale McKeown, Director of Community Engagement for the Alliance, and colleague Amanda Peters have spent the last two months visiting B.C. communities seeking input on what a provincial cultural policy framework would look like.

The province supports the arts, but takes what I call a scattergun approach with funding coming from different ministries and agencies. The purpose of the round tables is to find a more cohesive approach. The Cultural Policy Framework based on the Community Cultural Roundtables and other consultations will be presented at the Alliance’s Summit on June 18-19 in Vancouver.

The Cariboo has never been short of artists, potters and weavers, we have it all including the oldest continuing Art Society in B.C. I expected a full house for this session and was disappointed at the turnout. Whatever, the input from those who did attend will be counted.

The name McKeown will ring a few bells, especially for former politicians. Kevin was editor of the Tribune in the late 1970s. It’s fair to say he was one of the more colourful (controversial?) editors. Williams Lake was a boom town back then and there was a lot to be controversial about.

I asked him what he thought of the empty-storefronted downtown. He said he’d seen  worse. I guess that’s some consolation.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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