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Dismay caused by loss of local voice on the BC Arts Council

Changes to the BC Arts Council board will result in the loss of a unique rural perspective, and will lessen the BC Arts Council’s ability to meet the needs of arts organization and artists in rural B.C., says Columbia River–Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

The decision of the BC Arts Council not to renew the board appointment of Bill Usher of Golden — and instead replace him with an appointee from Victoria — is being called into question by those who are working to promote the arts in rural communities.

“Bill Usher is renowned throughout the province for his commitment to rural arts programs. His unique experience as the director of Kicking Horse Culture brought a very particular perspective to the board,” said Macdonald.

The BC Arts Council is an independent agency that supports arts and cultural activities across the province by providing financial assistance, research, advocacy and public education. Council members are appointed by an order in council, chosen by cabinet.

Through his work with the BC Arts Council, Usher has provided a voice on the realities of artists and arts organizations working in small, rural communities throughout the province.

“Without Usher at the provincial table, the diversity of voices will be lessened. While there are many who can represent the needs of urban artists, Bill was able to fully articulate the rural experience.

“There seems to be a disturbing trend towards removing the rural voice that we as rural residents have to fight against,” continued Macdonald. “I believe that this change will be a great loss to the BC Arts Council, but also to the rural arts scene throughout British Columbia.”