The British Columbia Arts Council was created in 1995 as an independent agency of the Province of British Columbia.
The Council’s role is to support the arts and cultural community by providing financial assistance, research, advocacy, and public education and its interests are to engage all British Columbians in a healthy arts and cultural community that is recognized for excellence.
The Council oversees 31 programs that support artists and arts organizations in communities across British Columbia.
The Council’s work is guided by two principles. An arms length principle defines its relationship with government, and a peer assessment principle defines its relationship with the arts community. Together these principles guide the Council’s operation and decision making processes.
Being at arms length from government means that, within its legislated mandate, the Arts Council has full authority to establish its own priorities, policies, and funding programs and to make grant decisions independently.
Peer assessment means having independent artists and arts professionals advising on priorities, assessing grant applications, and making recommendations on the awarding of grants.
Peers are defined as people who have the experience, knowledge and open-mindedness to be able to make fair and informed assessments of the comparative merits of grant applications.
The Arts Council relies on peer review to ensure freedom of thought and expression, engage the community in collective decision-making, and make informed decisions on how resources are allocated.
Fifteen Council members are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor by Order in Council. The BC Arts Council operates as a branch of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Arts with an Executive Director, Associate Director, Communications Manager, seven program officers, and an administrative team of five.
Peer assessment involves the arts community directly in the operation of the BC Arts Council. All funding decisions result from independent peer review.