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*Update: The Provincial Government announced on Wednesday that it will renew it’s $20 million in arts funding. Finance Minister Colin Hansen said the money will come from the government’s contingency fund. It’s too early to tell if this change will affect the Fort St. John Arts Council.

The Fort St. John Arts Council is reeling from an announcement that the Province is cutting $20 million in arts funding.

Executive Director Tara O’Donnell says the local Arts Council’s $20,000 Direct Access Grant was turned down.

But, she says the council wasn’t fully depending on that money.

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Finance Minister Colin Hansen released the provincial budget on Tuesday, which announced the forecasted $2.8 billion dollar deficit.

The budget blames the unanticipated shortfall in energy revenues, and the overall global recession as contributing factors to the deficit. In February, the provincial government estimated the deficit to be almost six times less, at $495 million dollars.

O’Donnell says it’s unfair that arts programs across B.C. have to pay for the deficit. She says that the arts are one of the first areas to face the chopping block when times get tough.

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The Arts Council is still waiting for word on its Basic Assistance Grant. The grant totals around $8,000 and goes to funding programs.

She says no programs will have to be cut this year, but if the grants continue to be downsized, it could affect the fate of future programs.

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