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Canada's Heritage minister hints at good budget news for the arts

Heritage Minister James Moore responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Thursday March 15, 2012.

Adrian Wyld/CP

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore is hinting at some "good news" for the Canada Council for the Arts in next week's federal budget – despite the budgetary belt-tightening that is expected to deal with an estimated $31-billion deficit.

At a funding announcement in Vancouver on Tuesday, Moore lamented arts-funding cuts in other countries, and suggested that things are different here. "In Canada, we decided to increase the funding for the Canada Council for the Arts by 20 per cent, and there'll be good news in the budget coming up."

The March 29 budget has been telegraphed as an exercise in spending reduction, with departments implementing cuts of 5 to 10 per cent. For example, the CBC, which also falls under Canadian Heritage, is preparing for cuts of 5 to 10 per cent over three years, and has presented the department with plans for both scenarios.

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Moore was in Vancouver on Tuesday to announce more than $10.5-million in funding for B.C. arts and culture organizations, including the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the Vancouver Fringe Festival and the Cultch.

During the announcement at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra School of Music, the minister laboured to position the Conservative government as a friend to the arts.

"Any government that says that they have a plan for economic recovery, growth and future growth that doesn't include a strong plan to support the arts is a government that doesn't have a plan for economic growth and recovery. ... Supporting the arts isn't a left-wing issue or a right-wing issue. It's the right thing to do. And it's good for Canada. And we're going to continue supporting the arts."

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