This graph gives a sense of the low tourism value of casinos as compared to arts and culture activities in cities. This is a well known fact, yet British Columbia has failed to develop the type of competent cultural economic plan or tourism economic plan that we see in other provinces. BC’s wholesale slashing of arts investment (unique in Canada) and its destruction of Tourism BC indicate to us that the government lacks a plan. The reliance upon gambling expansion is not just lazy, it’s economically unwise. It’s likely that given the combination of global troubles and online gambling the bottom will fall out of casino establishment gambling profits. In addition, cultural tourists generally come from a higher economic bracket, are more educated, and spend much more money at their destination.
Given these facts, it ought to become more obvious to Vancouver and the whole of BC why arts organizations, who were illegally made ineligible for BC gaming grants in 2009, banded together to fight the Edgewater mega-casino proposed for downtown Vancouver. Why are the tourism and arts sectors not being adequately consulted on a strategy and adequately subsidized as all other sectors are? They could bring billions into the Vancouver and BC economies. Why does the BC government refuse to understand, the way Ontario and Quebec do, that arts are a key factor in an economic plan? Both have state gambling (yet far better regulated than in BC) but they offset this with financially smart stimulus to arts and culture. It’s time for BC to get it together.
One must also add that arts and culture are part of a green economy, and bring no downside with them. With gambling however, there are increasingly strong stats that show its costs outweighing its profits, possibly 3 to 1. We heard this from many gambling experts during the hearings at Vancouver City Hall.
For more information on the economic benefits of arts and culture investment and cultural tourism, see post at Stop BC Arts Cuts.