From: Eli Purchase

Dear editor,
A new ePetition has just been posted to the NWT Legislative Assembly website calling on the GNWT to allow lottery funds to support the arts. When I heard that the GNWT was reviewing the Western Canada Lottery Act I knew this was the chance to change what lottery money can be spent on in the territory.
Currently the $4 – 6 million in lottery money received each year (shared with Nunavut) can only be spent on sports or recreation activities. In contrast, Yukon and all provinces from B.C. to Quebec fund a variety of initiatives, including sport, recreation, arts, culture, health and education.
The Atlantic provinces use the funds as general revenue on whichever initiatives they wish.
NWT and Nunavut are the only jurisdictions that limit lottery funds to sport and recreation. The need for increased support for the arts is high as the GNWT has not increased funding to the NWT Arts Council or other arts funds in nearly a decade.
By amending the Lottery Act to allow some of the lottery money to be spent on the arts, this would increase arts funding without increasing expenses for the GNWT. For example the NWT Arts Council’s annual budget is a mere $500,000 whereas the NWT Lottery revenues are in the millions.
According to the NWT Bureau of Statistics, 24.4 per cent of residents 15 and older produce arts and crafts.
It is time for the GNWT to increase support to the arts, and allowing lottery revenues to fund art is the right way to do it.
There will be a public hearing on the bill Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 11 a.m. in Committee Room A at the NWT Legislative Assembly Building.

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