This week a social media campaign was organized by the Shiftwork Collective in Fredericton in response to the New Brunswick provincial government’s recent decision to cut funding to ArtsNB, the province’s semi-autonomous arts granting body, while having its duties assumed by the Department of Tourism, Heritage, and Culture.
The campaign, under the banner of #makenoiseNB, is aimed squarely at the conscience of Premier Brian Gallant. Since the unveiling of the 2016-2017 budget, Gallant has sent the Legislative Assembly on a six week vacation, distracted New Brunswickers with whispers of a February statutory holiday, and kept ArtsNB safely at arm’s-length. The campaign itself is straight forward and simple: scribbled on a piece of paper are the words ‘The Premier needs to meet with ArtsNB’, usually with the hashtag, and shared across various social media platforms.
Sophia Bartholomew, one of the organizers, has also created an online petition to the same effect, “This is an idea a few of us cooked up last Thursday in Fredericton, sitting around trying to figure out what to do. The social media campaign was organized by artists all over the province, and I posted the petition because it gave voice to concerns my friends and colleagues were discussing.”
“I still feel like there’s an opportunity for him to step up and participate in the conversation, if he could constructively discuss alternatives with the board. Making good on the arts board act seems like a reasonable place to start. I trust that this model, which was developed over many years in consultation with the artists and the arts community, and is used to fund the arts in literally ever other province in Canada, and used nationally by the Canada Council For The Arts. I trust that its a good model.”
Support for the campaign has become very visible from the arts community, many of whom rely on the support from ArtsNB, and fear what might happen without an arm’s-length granting body, but are also concerned about voicing their opinions, “Not everyone can be visible in their dissent right now. A lot of people can’t say anything publicly because of their jobs.”
Gallant will be holding a summit on Arts and Culture in Caraquet this Thursday, and while some comment is expected on the fate of ArtsNB, there are currently no plans for an official meeting between the two parties.
To sign the petition click here.
In their show of support, the artist community has taken to embellishing on the campaign, turning it into an art project of sorts. Here are some of our favourites below.
— Holly DeWolf (@HollyDeWolf) February 15, 2016
— Carolynne Soucy (@CarolynneSoucy) February 15, 2016
— hilda kelley (@allafacade) February 15, 2016