Lia Versaevel

Electoral Riding

Nanaimo-North Cowichan

Party Affiliation

BC Green Party

Your Vision for Arts + Culture

Will you advocate for an increased investment to the BC Arts Council and to maintain or increase the current funding level for arts, culture and heritage in your community?

Yes. Greens know that the arts and culture communities are a vital part of the B.C. economy. Having a vibrant arts and culture community will give B.C. an edge in attracting well-educated, professional talent.


Will you take an active role on behalf of your community to lobby senior levels of government to increase levels of investment to the BC Arts Council?

Yes. I have seen how much the arts have contributed to the community and cultural life of Chemainus and the central island. Investment in the arts supports community life and will stimulate local economies.


If you are in favour of increased investment in arts, culture, and heritage for our province and committed to lobbying senior levels of government for increases to the BC Arts Council, would you require additional advocacy support from the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture? If so, how can we help?

I would be happy to work with the B.C. Alliance for Arts and Culture in pushing for increased investment in the arts. You could help make the economic case for more funding by providing the kind of information you gave in the introduction to the survey - the fact that B.C. has the highest concentration of working artists in Canada, and are members of an estimated 4,515 arts and culture organizations. That's impressive. Governments at all levels - municipal, provincial, and federal - don't appreciate how important arts and culture are to the economy.

Cultural Growth

In your view, how can our provincial government maintain or grow the cultural sector across British Columbia?

The B.C. government should establish a Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage. Funding should be increased, and it should be done on a multi-year basis. Arts organizations plan events years in advance, and not being able to count on critical financial support ahead of time is a major barrier to arts programming. The province should sponsor international arts events and competitions with the same enthusiasm they do for sporting events! Music and other arts programs in the school curriculum should be restored, protected and expanded to create the writers, musicians and artists of tomorrow as well as new audiences - and help kids learn better.

Cultural + Creative Spaces

Will you work to ensure access to affordable, sustainable cultural and creative spaces for artists and arts organizations in British Columbia? If so, how?

I would urge the government to provide funding to develop affordable rental facilities for local arts and culture groups, as well as the retro-fitting and renovation of older buildings to provide cultural and creative spaces for artists and arts organizations like we have in downtown Nanaimo. Through the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage, I would promote the financing and construction of new arts buildings such as the Port Theatre's long-awaited studio theatre.

Cultural Tourism

How will you improve cultural tourism in your community? How do you propose to attract and retain artists and cultural workers in your community?

Chemainus has re-built its economy on cultural tourism, with the murals, the Chemainus Theatre, and the amenities that go with that such as art galleries, artisan craft stores, and restaurants. Although Nanaimo is a larger community, it lacks a commercial art gallery, for example, and a modern studio space such as the Port Theatre studio would provide. There is also a lack of affordable rental space for artists. I would work with the municipal government and local arts organizations to obtain more funding for the arts, and to include arts and cultural space in planning. I want to change the view that giving money to the arts is a subsidy - it is an investment, and one that will make central Vancouver Island an even more attractive place to live.

Key Issues

What do you feel to be the single most important issue currently relating to arts, culture and heritage in British Columbia, and what action will you take to address it?

Lack of predictable, multi-year funding. How can any arts organization plan programs or attract artists and performers when they don't know if they will have the money to hire them? Arts organizations are having to spend too much time applying for grants and doing fund-raising - they should be able to focus on what they do best. Stable, committed funding costs less over time, as organizations can draw up a business plan when they know how much money they have to work with and for how long. I will work to change the model of one-off funding for arts groups to one that is multi-year and can be counted on.


How do you personally engage in the creative and cultural life of your community, and more broadly, the province? (e.g. committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)

I am a huge fan of the Chemainus Theatre, and try to get to as many performances as possible during each year. It is amazing to have such a treasure right here in my home town. There are frequent recitals and concerts and open mic nights at my church, St. Michael and All Angels, and all summer long musical events in the Waterwheel Park. It's hard to leave home to get to other places when there is so much going on right here! I have made treks up to Nanaimo to see Buffy St. Marie at the Port Theatre, and as a member of the Executive of the Alumni Board at UVIC, frequently have the opportunity to attend events, concerts and theatrical productions in Victoria. I also go to several events in Ladysmith each year including Arts on the Avenue, and Light Up, when all the heritage buildings downtown are lit up with Christmas lights and hundreds come to watch. 

Additional Feedback

If you would like to provide voters with additional information about your stance on arts, culture and heritage issues in British Columbia, please use the space below. Hint: sharing personal stories or experience about how art, culture and heritage have impacted your life are often the best way to effectively connect with your readers!

I think I have described some of my personal stories in the previous answer. But having the great opportunity to enjoy such a variety of cultural experiences not only in my home town of Chemainus but throughout Vancouver Island has enriched my life. It bothers me that arts organizations have to go cap-in-hand to government for funding when they are such a vital part of our island economy - and sustainable, too!