EDITORIAL – Who cares about the arts when we’re fighting a pandemic?

(Image: Western Canada Theatre, Facebook)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

ALONG WITH EVERYBODY ELSE, the arts could use a handout during this COVID-19 pandemic.

With no ticket sales and limits on the size of gatherings, concerts and exhibits have been cancelled and there’s little money coming in.

Except, that is, from us, the taxpayers. The arts are heavily subsidized in Kamloops and other communities even at the best of times. A great deal of their money comes from governments at all levels —municipal, regional, provincial and federal.

This bugs the hell out of those who think the arts are for the elite. They see the arts as being of interest only to a small part of the population, the hoity toity crowd that likes to dress up and go out to watch pretentious theatre or listen to longhair orchestral music.

They’re the folks who get their hackles up at the thought of borrowing money to build a performing arts centre.

The mayor of Kamloops says City Hall can’t “backstop” the arts in tough times but the fact is the City already contributes heavily to them through grants and service agreements. The B.C. Arts Council oversees $24 million in grants every year. The federal government has promised $500 million for the arts as part of COVID-19 relief. And it’s not new with the pandemic. In 2016, it pledged $1.9 billion.

So should the arts get even more? Seems to me they’re generously provided for but since the feds are handing out more to them anyway, let’s just hope it goes first to where it’s needed most, the true community artists who toil in their basements and car ports, especially the ones who have been giving free online performances to cheer us up during this pandemic.

The rest are doing pretty well already.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9116 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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