Gaming funds cut, partnership to offset reduction

Though one funding door is closed for the SAGA Public Art Gallery, new ones are expected to open with the amalgamation of the gallery and the Shuswap District Arts Council.

In her annual report to city council, gallery and arts council director/curator, Tracey Kutschker, said she recently learned that SAGA would not benefit from Premier Christy Clark’s recent infusion of funding for BC Lottery Corporation gaming grants.

This grant money, utilized by non-profit sport and arts organizations across the province, including SAGA, was cut last year and, as Kutschker has learned, is not being restored for art galleries under Clark’s families-first agenda.

“Last fall the arts council and the gallery came to you as partners in the arts centre to ask for operating funds to keep the doors open and to continue our programs,” Kutschker told council. “When you agreed to a good portion of our request, it inspired us to work together to make sure all the programs at the arts centre continue.”

The end result is that come January 2012, the two organizations will become one. Kutschker said this will reduce a variety of costs and create an entity that will be financially sustainable.

“I really want to take this opportunity to thank you because, without you inspiring us, we wouldn’t have been able to take this step, we wouldn’t have been motivated to take this step,” said Kutschker.

“And now that we have, we feel that this community is assured an important cultural place for many years to come.”

While gaming grants may no longer be available, Kutschker said that because she would be a full-time director for the new organization, they would be eligible for project funds from Canada Council.

“We may never go back to gaming, but it opens up other opportunities,” she said.

Coun. Alan Harrison thanked Kutschker, staff and volunteers, noting he’s heard rave reviews of the great things happening at the gallery.

“And I think this amalgamation really does show a step forward and maturity for both groups,” said Harrison.