Chak Au

Name

Chak Au

Jurisdiction

Richmond

Running for

City/Town Council

Party or Slate (if applicable)

Richmond Community Coalition

Funding

Do you know how much your local government invests in the arts? Would you commit to advocating for an increase in that cultural investment for arts, culture, and heritage in your community, within the capacity of your elected body?

In 2018, Richmond spent more than $1.1M on arts, cultural, and heritage projects from our budget. If re-elected l will continue to advocate for adequate funding to support the expansion of arts and cultural activities in our city.

Advocacy

If elected, will you take an active role on behalf of your local government in championing the growth of arts, culture and heritage in your community? Why?

Yes. Not only should we support the growth of arts, culture and heritage in the community by broadening the arts experiences and opportunities offered to residents, l believe we have to help the public to understand and appreciate the importance of arts in creating a healthy and harmonious community. Richmond should not be recognized only for its economic development but also the richness of its cultural profile.

Education

Students with an education rich in the arts have better grade point averages and are three times more likely to get a degree. Will you commit to making the arts a critical component of every child’s education? If so, how?

Absolutely! I had been a school trustee for 12 years before l ran for council in 2011. I have first-hand experience about the value of arts to education. I advocated for keeping the arts programs in schools at times of budget cutbacks in the school district and have continued to support arts programs in our community as a councillor. I am delighted that the Richmond Youth Media Program was founded in 2011 and we have seen the benefits to the young people who participated in the program. We should have more innovative programs in our city to help the younger generation to develop an interest in the arts.

Cultural Growth

How will your local government maintain or grow its investment in cultural programs in your community?

Created in 2004, the Richmond Arts Strategy has served as a guide to advance the arts in Richmond. The City is now in the process of preparing for a renewed Strategy for 2018-2023. One of the guiding principles is to ‘future-proof’ the arts through funding, education, infrastructure, mentorship and the integration of the arts into the everyday fabric of our city.

Cultural Spaces

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

I understand that there are competing interests for space to meet different community needs. Traditionally, space for community amenities such as parks, playgrounds, community centres and childcare were given higher priority. However, l believe we should try to secure more cultural spaces. The proposed redevelopment of Lansdowne Mall has opened up a great opportunity to get more cultural space in the City Centre area. I would like to have a modern cultural centre provided with space for exhibitions, performances and classes.

Cultural Tourism

How do you propose to improve cultural tourism in your community?

With 24 million passengers going through Vancouver International Airport (YVR) each year, Richmond is both a stopover and destination for tourists. There are huge opportunities for cultural tourism in our city. We should work more closely with Tourism Richmond and other community partners to promote special events (e.g. Richmond World Festival) and walking/bike routes for public art. We should also invest resources to develop a Heritage Belt to attract more tourists for longer stays in Richmond.

How do you propose to attract or retain artists and cultural workers in your community?

With the high cost of housing in Richmond, many local artists and cultural workers have found it difficult to stay in the city and we have lost them to other cities. So it is essential that we secure more affordable work/live spaces to meet their needs. The City of Richmond has already incorporated the increased supply of work/live studios as part of its Affordable Housing Strategy. However, the supply had not caught up with demand. My last check was that all units had been filled.

Key Issues

What do you feel is the single most important issue relating to arts, culture, and heritage in your community, and what action will you take to address it?

As 60% of Richmond’s residents were not born in Canada, it is both a challenge and opportunity for all of us to develop strong community spirit by using the arts and cultural events as the means. The success of Richmond World Festival has proven that this strategy is working.

Participation

How do you personally engage in the cultural life of the community? (e.g. involvement on committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)

I have been the Council’s liaison to Gateway Theatre and London Heritage Farm for the past seven years. I frequently went to arts exhibitions and cultural performances about 3-4 times a month.I