ART EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS: Investment in Arts Education is a Top Priority for BC’s Business Community

This past weekend, the Surrey Board of Trade called for support to invest in funding for arts education for early childhood to K-12 and post-secondary curriculums from 125 chambers of commerce/boards of trade at the BC Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Conference, May 23 – 25 in Burnaby.“The cultural economy of British Columbia is in trouble,” said Anita Huberman, CEO Surrey Board of Trade. The trouble stems from a dwindling supply of artists, and lack-luster investment in arts education from K-12 and post-secondary. Without adequate investment in pre-K-12 and post-secondary art education, businesses are at risk of losing an essential skill: creativity.

“It is a positive economic move to know that BC Chamber of Commerce members understand that an investment in the arts is an investment in economic growth for businesses, today and tomorrow.”

Given the importance of creativity in today’s economy, we must ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to promote the development of creative minds among the next generation of Canadian students—the employees and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that we are not.

Additionally, development of creative minds benefits society as a whole, not just the economy. To this point, a 1997 study looking at social capital and community arts programs found that programs built social capital by boosting individuals’ ability and motivation to be civically engaged, as well as building organizational capacity for effective action. The study observed that community arts programs often involve people who are disadvantaged in some way (at-risk youth, ethnic minorities, people in a poor neighbourhood) and are designed in the context of some larger goal, such as neighbourhood improvement (typically aesthetic) or learning and teaching about diverse cultures (multiculturalism). These goals are usually the basis for claims about the politically transformative potential of community arts projects.

There is a significant gap between what children are told is important for their future career success and what business leaders actually want from the emerging workforce. Creative individuals are actually in demand. Not just for arts careers, but for careers in business as well. For example, Disney and Apple are two of the most successful companies of our time, largely because of the creativity, innovation, and the leadership they have demonstrated in their respective industries. In an era when businesses are constantly struggling to find creative ways to stay at the top of their market, arts education can be a powerful tool to nurture the creative abilities of our young people, ensuring they are ready for the skills that are in demand

The Policy received the necessary two-thirds of votes to pass and is now an official BC Chamber of Commerce policy, to be advocated on by both the Surrey Board of Trade and the BC Chamber of Commerce to the Provincial Government over 2019-2020.


The BC Chamber AGM and Conference is held in a different BC community each year. The event is the largest annual business policy-building forum in the province. Every year, member chambers/boards of trade of the BC Chamber of Commerce develop and submit policies for the consideration of their peers. This year, 75 policies were forwarded and voted on at the AGM policy session. The Surrey Board of Trade submitted 15 policies for support, receiving endorsement for all except for universal pharmacare.

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For further details, please contact:

Anita Huberman, CEO
D: 604.634.0342
C: 604.340.3899