Steve's Blog
Monday August 31, 2009

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Hi everyone

Grant money update

First off I'd like to thank those of you who have offered to help with the grant writing for our Canadian Heritage application. We're starting to work on it this week.

On a gloomier note, the BC government have reneged on their promises to distribute the proceeds of Gaming to cultural groups. Years ago, charities would provide volunteers to work at the casinos, as cashiers and chip runners. The cashier job was best, cos you didn't have to walk around amongst the tables in a smoke-infested room. We were behind a glass wall. Chip running was quite fun, though, if you could hold your breath for a long time! The whole event was a gamble for all parties, as the charities would have one or two nights in a specific casino, and the profits (or losses) were shared between the charity (50%), the casino (10%), and the BC government (40%). One year, a charity I was working for received a blow when the casino lost money on the first night! The next night was better and the net profit to the charity ended up around $7,500. I think the average used to be closer to $15,000, however.

This process was greatly simplified when the government decided to add up all the proceeds from casinos for a whole month and divide the charities' 50% shares equally amongst 31 (or 30, or 28 - depending on the number days) charities allocated that month. We no longer had to staff the casinos. The Liberals then removed another level of bureaucracy and / or accountability by dividing the year up by type of charity and allocating a 3 month window for cultural groups to apply. They would then decide to dole out an amount they deemed fit to deserving causes. Rogue Folk has received $10,000 per year for the past few years. Last year, the Liberals made their workload even easier by pre-approving Societies for three years, thus eliminating the need for annual evaluation. We thought that this was good, and that we could rely on receiving $10,000 again this year and next year. When working out a budget, such information is kind of important.

Last Friday, now known as Black Friday amongst the BC Arts & Culture sector, the Liberals went back on that promise and denied funding to all of us. Every one. Across the board. No money for culture. They tried to fob us off with the news that they were allocating $5 million to the BC Arts Council instead. That Council - which has never shown the slightest inclination to fund anything as "low-brow" as the Rogue Folk Club - used to receive $10 million from general revenue. So this is another cutback. And presumably the Liberals now receive 90% of the profits from gaming, and dole out little bits to charities in Health & Education to make it look as though they still care. Meanwhile they are systematically ruining the Health Care and Education sectors. (Of course, if Campbell were to get sick, he would be a Private patient, possibly in a place where he can spend more of our money without paying any BC Public Health Care professionals in the process.)

The Liberals tell us that they are trying hard to control the deficit. Yet they are all riding the gravy train and laughing heartily all the way to the bank, the real estate office and the corporate boardrooms of the fat cats and VANOC. By disenfranchising the Arts they possibly believe that they are extinguishing the voice of dissent. A dangerous course of action. History shows us that all empires have fallen to pieces when they start to dismantle the Arts. Gordon Bloody Campbell will not be the first dictator to feel this. Sadly, he probably won't be the last.

When the news came in - by email, another cost-cutting measure, no doubt - I heard the words of the chorus of a Jez Lowe songs pounding through my head. Repeatedly:

"Ha'way man, they're liars and they're cheats
Ha'way man, they're liars and they're cheats
Ha'way man, they're liars and they're cheats
Ha'way man, they're liars and cheats"

perhaps not his most eloquent verse, but possibly one of his most memorable ones. It comes from "These Coal Town Days" on his "Bede Weeps" CD (Fellside Records, 1994) and referred to the systematic dismantling of the mining industry and its associated way of life in England, Scotland and Wales in the 1980s by another hated despot, Maggie Thatcher.

But what does this mean to the Rogue Folk Club? Well, obviously, we're $10,000 short this year for starters. We anticipate further problems when the HST comes in. If we have to start collecting tax on tickets and becoming unpaid tax collectors for the Liberals as well as the Feds I'm moving to New Zealand! Also, the Olympics have an important cultural function. The Cultural Olympiad will run from late January to late March. Sure, the Arts have received some money for that. However, it's all "glamorous" shows and definitely jobs for the in-crowd (aka "the boys," as it were). Capilano University is not a member of the In-Crowd. They were turned down for a very worthy project. They are closing the CPAT - at least the Cap Folk & Roots Series - for those two months. Rogue was denied funding a number of times as well, and we just gave up asking. We obviously don't fit the mold.

What can we do? We can continue to present fine concerts. We can continue to do our best in spite of little - and diminishing - coverage in the media. (The Olympics will suck up all the media attention, of course. What's left of the Media, that is. Any Media that still "works" is clearly in bed with Campbell and his cronies).

We might have to shut down for a while in 2010, as well. Who knows? It all depends on your response in the next few months, and the amazing line up of concerts that we have for you. If these concerts do well, we will be able to stay afloat.

Blame Sally, Thursday September 3rd, 8pm at St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue

On that note, I urge you to take a chance on a couple of very talented new bands this Thursday. Blame Sally are four women from San Francisco who we have been watching closely for the past couple of years at events like the Folk Alliance Conference. Each band member is a songwriter, and they each had a solo career which was going OK, but collectively they have been able to create a much bigger impression on their local scene - and via Folk Alliance and appearances at festivals - all across the USA. This will be their first ever Canadian show. They have released two superb CDs in the past two years, with material ranging from catchy love songs to intricate story songs about Afghan Vets, and tirades against bad government. There is something I find compelling and magical about women singing together in harmony. There is a power and an intensity about it, but also an undercurrent of compassion (and passion) and a desire for change for the better. You will find all these qualities in Blame Sally's music.

Opening for them are Toronto trio Isobelle Gunn, who have just released their 2nd CD (this week). Named after a famed Orkney woman who came to Canada and disguised herself as a man to work for the Hudson's Bay Company in the early 1800s, the band are a husband and wife duo and his sister, so you can expect more fine harmonies (those sibling harmonies are extra special) and their songs also cover a wide range of themes with fascinating lyrics and memorable melodies, This, too, will be their Vancouver debut.

Rogue Folk Review

The September issue will be mailed from Capilano University tomorrow morning (the mailing party is tonight). It will include the CPAT colour brochure. It will also be the last time that many of you will receive it in the mail. If you wish to go on receiving it in the mail, please send us $5 extra when you renew your membership (and we ask you to renew it / extend it for 12 months as soon as possible, in order to demonstrate our community support and to ease our cash flow problems a bit).

Meanwhile, you can download the latest issue of the Rogue Folk Review on our website, where you will also find more details about our Fall concerts.

On-line tickets

In the last few weeks have had some disturbing emails and calls from people saying that they had not received tickets in the mail, despite having opted to have them mailed. We had similar complaints when we posted some folk festival tickets in July. For this reason, we are going to use Registered Mail only from now on. This is much more expensive, of course, but is the only way that we can track the delivery of the tickets. So if you opt to have tickets mailed to you, we will charge an extra $10 per order. You might prefer to pick up your tickets at Will-Call on the night of the show, of course. For that, there is no extra charge.

Venue improvements

The new elevator is working at St. James Hall. It is much more powerful and reliable as well.

The chairs in the Hall have been replaced by newer, more comfortable - and uniformly coloured ones. There are still pews, of course, but we are offering portable cushions - called Sit-Upons - for a mere $10 at our shows. They are compact, padded, and come in attractive bags made from coloured parachute-silk.

Radio Rogue

There is a new playlist of over 1,100 songs on Radio Rogue, our streamed audio feed which is available from our home page. Just follow the instructions to point your browser to a world of great music - much of which may soon be heard performed Live at the Rogue.

Mentoring Programs

We are hoping to introduce a couple of mentoring programs: one for sound engineers, and one for aspiring songwriters. Stay tuned for more details. And please let us know if you are interested in participating in such a venture.

Thanks for reading this!

See you soon at The Rogue - the home of Real, Live, Roots Music in Vancouver!