No services, no upgrades, no more toys

By Ruth Davenport

Campus groups are no closer to filling the gaps left by the recent dissolution of the Community Lottery Boards in the provincial budget.

"We did sort of depend on it," said University of Calgary Dean of Fine Arts Dr. Anne Calvert. "There is no obvious solution."

The Calgary Community Lottery Board supplied 30 campus-based applicants with funds chan
nelled from VLT revenue, as per the provincial government’s commitment when VLTs were approved in 1998. Beneficiaries at the U of C included the Faculties of Fine Arts, Kinesiology, Education and Medicine, the Students’ Union, the Department of Information Technologies and all three student media groups. In total, these groups received a combined $2, 216, 515 over the last four years.

"There are many funders out there, all doing different things," said CCLB Chair Gael MacLeod. "The CCLB had the flexibility to fill the gaps where those funding sources didn’t quite fit together and we did it well."

Calvert and representatives of the student-operated U of C television and radio stations agreed with MacLeod, outlining projects and purchases the CCLB assisted with in the past.

"The key was that the CCLB could fund things we needed that other sponsors didn’t think were so wonderful," said Calvert, pointing to renovations and upgrades of facilities such as the Reeve Theatre, the University Theatre and the Rozsa Centre as examples. "The focus was on areas of operation that were distinctly public where the community was going to see the face of the university and the face of the fine arts community as well."

U of C New University Television Program Director Tom Andriuk also listed NUTV purchases and projects that would not have been possible without lottery board support. CCLB grants assisted in keeping the station up-to-date with industry-supported technology. Such purchases included post-production equipment and the technological materials necessary for the closed circuit television system launched on April 4.

"These are big steps that we couldn’t have taken solely with the student levy or existing federal and provincial grants," said Andriuk. "Even corporate sponsorships couldn’t have entirely funded these things without the lottery board."

Like NUTV, U of C radio station CJSW had submitted a recent application to the lottery board to address the costs of expanding their facilities.

"We needed the capital to relocate our tower and expand our facilities," explained Station Manager Chad Saunders. "It’s not that we won’t go ahead, we just need to find other, more creative ways to raise the funds. It’ll just take longer."

Saunders added that although the scenario is not doomsday for CJSW, the effects are far-reaching.

"CJSW will stay on the air," he said. "But some of the groups that we give airwaves to might not be around much longer, some of the groups who depended on CCLB funding, so our listeners will lose out on the diversity of the programming."

While there is no immediate solution to the crises facing groups in a funding shortfall, Andriuk and Saunders both encouraged the public to voice their opinions.

"The point of action now is to lobby MLAs and the gaming minister and try to get the decision changed," said Saunders.

"Our volunteers have been encouraged to contact their representatives and convey their concerns," agreed Andriuk.

"Everyone you can talk to probably has some connection to a non-profit group or knows someone who has benefitted from CCLB dollars," said MacLeod. "We will continue to let the government know what we think, but it’s up to the public now."

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