Arts advocates want answers from candidates

Key issues include arts and culture funding

Those who work in the cultural sector know maintaining and increasing funding to the arts can be a hard sell in tough economic times, so they wanted to learn about each mayoral, city council and park board candidate's vision of culture's place in Vancouver.

Candidates' answers were to be posted on the Alliance for Arts and Culture's website ( after the Courier's press deadline, Nov. 15.

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Kevin Dale McKeown, the non-profit group's director of communications, said the Alliance was "disappointed" Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson hadn't responded to questions the group forwarded to all municipal candidates in Metro Vancouver.

NPA mayoral hopeful Suzanne Anton said, "Supporting arts and culture is critical to Vancouver's future prosperity," and then reiterated her party's platform, which includes awarding the Vancouver Art Gallery full development rights to the site of the old Greyhound bus depot at Cambie and Beatty streets to construct a new gallery, using community amenity contributions from developments to create capital financing and operating endowment funds, and developing a strategic cultural tourism plan to benefit arts, tourism and entertainment.

McKeown said "major concerns" about the idea of using community amenity contributions to benefit arts and culture need to be discussed alongside agencies who depend on those contributions to create social housing, daycares, parks and recreation. "Because this bonusing has been in place for quite a while, and if you're going to take all of that and put it into a trust or a fund, you then have to look at who's not going to have access to it who has had access to it in the past," he said. "We're not interested in creating further divisiveness in the social profit community."

McKeown added the idea has great potential that would need to be harnessed within the next 30 years.

COPE supports creating a Vancouver Endowment for the Arts that would be modelled after the Canada Council for the Arts and the Vancouver Foundation. Green Party of Vancouver council candidate Adriane Carr said: "The budgets that have increased to support the political agenda and PR of the mayor's office should be cut back and the money reallocated to arts and culture support."

COPE council candidate Tim Louis said the city should "seriously consider slowing the growth rate of the city's largest departmental expenditure-the Vancouver Police Department. A one per cent reduction in the growth rate of the VPD would more than satisfy this [arts funding] issue."

COPE vowed to broaden the city's poet laureate position to include artistic disciplines such as visual arts, new media, music, drama and dance.

Artists and cultural workers in Vancouver wanted to know how candidates would stem the loss of creative spaces and whether they'd upgrade the city's heritage registry. (Most would.)

Vision Vancouver council hopefuls Heather Deal, Kerry Jang and Andrea Reimer reiterated their party's platform of increasing the amount of studio space in the city by 10,000 square feet in the next three years. NPA council candidate George Affleck said he'd like to see several cultural zones developed for artist studios. "Similar to Railspur Alley on Granville Island, these studios could be rental/non-retail spaces within new developments."

Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi

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