ProArt distributed a survey to Candidates campaigning in the 2020 City of Victoria Municipal By-Election asking them to respond to the following questions in time for the December 12, 2020 election date. Candidate replies are being posted as received.
1. What benefits do the arts bring to our communities?
2. What role do you believe municipal governments should have in supporting the arts?
3. Given that the City of Victoria is committed to investing in the CRD Arts & Culture Support Service, do you support its decision to contribute to the service? Why?
4. Is there anything else regarding the arts that you would like to communicate to voters at this time?
Jason Heit (candidate has officially withdrawn)
Keith Rosenberg (candidate has officially withdrawn)
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1. From a cultural perspective, it records and tells our stories and the overall inherent culture within our community. It shows us who we are, where we came from and enlightens our path forward.
Arts can provoke. When used constructively it can provide perspective on issues within our society in a way that open debate cannot.
Arts entertains and lifts our spirit. It opens our minds. And Arts comforts us when we are grieving.
Our lives would be so dull without the ability to congregate and share. One must only look at the anxiety of not being able to see a musical at the Royal Theatre, listen to Symphony Splash, participate in or watch a production from the Victoria Operatic Society or attend a festival of art.
2. I wholeheartedly believe municipal governments should support the arts. As with other community contributions such as sport, festivals, and other services Arts needs to be adequately funded and supported so it grows. Support does not just mean funding, it means advocating for our community, so we have sufficient Arts venues, recognizing that an economic investment in locally created Art (including theatre, dance, music, visual art and beyond) returns far greater benefit than original investment. It means promoting the Arts and acknowledging they are an integral part of our lives.
And it means changing our view on the Arts. They are NOT a cost line item on a budget, they are an integral part of our community.
3. I came to Victoria directly to work in the arts. I know so many people who work in Arts and Culture and – I want to get a plug in here – my husband is artist Danny Everett Stewart.
I know the struggle of being an artist in this city and I see the vast investment of free time, free services and free gifts the Arts and Culture community makes to our community every year.
We do not value and appreciate our artists as we should. For example, there are few businesses or Individuals that would say “Show your paintings in my restaurant it will give you exposure” or “Play at my event because it will get your name out”. The hours of work, practice and materials to develop these creations in that one ‘stinging’ remark devalues the artist. We need to value, truly value these talented people.
I plan to work with fellow councillors and councillors across the CRD to establish more opportunities for funding and support.
4. The term “lived experience” has been no more appropriate to my commitment to the Arts.
I arrived in Victoria to work as a Stage Manager on the Kaleidoscope Theatre production of “The Wizard of Earthsea” – it changed my life and my home. I love Victoria and its diverse Arts community. I have directed, acted in, and produced many, many theatre productions in Victoria and across Vancouver Island. I have donated my time to helping community theatre groups. Raising thousands of dollars for theatre companies and I created the Thrifty Foods Family Concert Series. I also served as the Managing Director of the Victoria International Children’s’ Festival. I also wrote and directed two fundraisers for Kaleidoscope. I mention these points, not to grandstand, but to show my commitment and to let people know, who likely are not aware of my passion for the Arts. Thank you for this opportunity.
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1. So many! The arts play a central role in building healthy, vibrant, and inclusive communities. Art benefits everyone— both as entertainment that brings joy and fun to our city, but also as a way that we can connect and learn from each other, promoting diversity, expression, understanding, and social cohesion. Arts and entertainment are also an important part of our local economy that has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. But as COVID-19 has shown us, people also rely on the arts to get through difficult times.
2. Municipal decisions have a huge impact on art and cultural creators. I believe city councils have a responsibility to advocate for the arts in their community and provide the support needed for them to thrive. Grants and other financial support, offered through avenues such as the Festival Investment Grant program and the CRD Arts Commission, help creators pay their bills. Municipal regulations can make the difference between thriving arts and cultural venues and a city with few places for people to perform. Promoting artists through programs such as the Pro-Art award and Victoria Book prizes can help local artists and cultural workers get seen, recognized and supported. There is more the city can do to make space for the arts in Victoria, especially in the context of recovering from COVID, and I am excited to be part of that.
3. Absolutely. Arts and cultural industries are a critical part of our community. Our support for creators helps support one of the highest concentrations of working artists in the country. The $2.4 million that was spent in 2020 went towards supporting 94 not-for-profit arts organizations that are critical to maintaining hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity in our region.
Across BC, arts and culture is linked to $7.9 billion in economic activity— and we have an outsized share of that activity— with 8.6% of the arts and culture economy happening in our region. I’m looking forward to seeing this important service continue, especially with the renewed focus on supporting more diverse creators who work in our region. If we pulled our funding, arts organizations located in the City of Victoria would not be eligible for this funding stream which would greatly damage our artistic community and harm our local economy.
4. COVID-19 has made life a lot harder for all of us, but especially for artists and cultural creators – many of whom had modest incomes before the pandemic. My hope is that as a city we will come together to support our artists by economically supporting their work, not just when COVID-19 is under control, but today.
And when this pandemic has ended, we will need to work harder than ever to open up opportunities for artists. This means improving access to venues, removing restrictive barriers to live performances and providing supports, and promoting and increasing the visibility of local artists – especially artists who face multiple barriers. As part of developing our budget in 2021, I want to prioritize funding for cultural spaces and new arts infrastructure. With so many venues and arts spaces closed or at risk of closing due to the pandemic, the City will need to find creative solutions and commit funding to revitalizing our arts and cultural industries once we begin rebuilding.
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1. The arts bring community and people together. Increase happiness and quality of life. They help fill the gap now missing from our educational system.
2. Making available the community space controlled by the City and helping with funding through grants.
3. Yes I support the funding and feel it is necessary given the decline in our educational system towards the arts.
4. The city should contribute to after school music and arts programs. Children should have the ability to learn about music through an interactive electronic music collaboration between music teachers and the community. Children exposed to different music options early on will have a great advantage in all aspects of education. I was the owner of a Canadian Independent Music Label called Iron Music and appreciate how investing in our youths music exposure brings financial return to the community and country in the long run.
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1. Arts are fundamental to healthy cities and healthy communities. Art provides an outlet for self expression, creativity, and collaboration. Art can promote empathy and social change.
2. Municipal governments should be proactive in supporting arts, principally through funding both the arts and artists. I also think municipal governments have a responsibility to ensure equity and diversity in funding, and that the focus should be on providing programming to underserved communities.
3. I do. So many art based non-profits are doing great work in our communities. Their work not only provides access to art based programs which benefit communities, but provide jobs for artists in our community as well.
4. I know in my personal life, art has helped foster supportive relationships based on fun, cooperation, and creativity. It’s helped me meet new people, from different walks of life. It’s been an outlet from the struggles of day to day life, and a chance to take a deep breath and be present. I grew up in a small rural town without many opportunities to pursue art outside of school, and the focus on and access to arts and culture here is one of the reasons I love Victoria.
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1. The arts enrich our lives in a multitude of ways. They provide a physical and emotional benefit that is unquantifiable. The arts are a reflection of who we are at our best.
2. I believe that municipalities have a large role to play in supporting the arts. They provide performance spaces like the Royal Theatre and the McPherson Playhouse. They provide direct funding to artists through events like the festivals hosted by the city in Centennial Square and by providing grants and commissions to local artists.
3. Yes, I whole-heartedly support the city of Victoria’s support for the CRD Arts and Culture Support Services. I believe that artists are the soul of any city and how we regard them and support them speaks volumes about us as a society. Without CRD grants, support services, and facility development, many artists would simply not be able to make art in the city in which they live.
4. Yes. I believe that we need to support the arts now more than ever. As a curator, former IATSE member, and a former Belfry Theatre board member, I have been an active participant in the promotion of safe, distanced, arts events over the last eight months. Art and artists enrich all our lives and make us as people better in so many unquantifiable ways. If elected to council, I look forward to being an active participant in supporting the arts and art spaces in the city as I have been doing for the last 30 years. Thank you.