A war of words between a Vancouver-based arts organization and Tourism, Culture and Arts Minister Kevin Krueger is hopefully just a misunderstanding, the manager for Western Canada Theatre said Friday.
But Krueger stood his ground that the alliance made an outright threat against him.
Lori Marchand made the comment after hearing the Alliance for Arts and Culture issued a press release saying Krueger has accused the group of threatening him and saying the group’s approach was like a junkie waving a needle.
“I think it’s easy to take things out of context, and that’s from both sides. It’s so easy to have things misconstrued or misinterpreted,” she said.
“We all have to work together. I hope it is patched up.”
Alliance executive director Amir Ali Alibhai said in the press release that the perceived threat occurred at a meeting between about 20 group members and Krueger last November.
Since then, the minister has said in two radio interviews that some arts advocates are vicious and that he was blatantly threatened.
Alibhai said Krueger needs to watch his words.
But Krueger stood by his comments, saying he was definitely threatened — not with violence or anything physical.
“There are a couple of individuals on the executive of that group who get quite carried away,” he said. A deliberately chosen sequence of speakers addressed him at the meeting, including a lawyer near the end.
Krueger said the group demanded funding or else.
“It was a very, very clear threat and it shouldn’t have been said. . . . It was behavior that deserves a rebuke,” he said.
“I don’t appreciate they’re trying to get this sanitized version of events out publicly, because that isn’t the truth.”
The solution to the dispute is for alliance members to back off, he said.
“If they don’t conduct themselves in that way any more, there won’t be anything to talk about.”
Marchand said the South Kamloops MLA has been accessible and willing to talk with her company about their concerns and issues.
“We have found him not just currently but over his tenure as our MLA to be responsive and certainly listening to our requests to things that help us serve the community better. He’s been on side with all of that,” she said.
On the other hand, Krueger has had a busy year and one that has been fraught with cutbacks and worry among arts groups.
“The cuts were severe. He (Krueger) was hearing from every group provincially, including advocacy agencies.”
Still, Marchand — and the alliance — gave him credit for setting aside $7 million from the Arts and Sports Legacy Fund and putting it under the jurisdiction of the B.C. Arts Council.