Cyndi Gerlach

Name

Cyndi Gerlach

Jurisdiction

School District #44: North Vancouver

Running for

School Board

Party or Slate (if applicable)

N/A

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?

I am already a strong supporter for including quality arts education in our schools. There is a large body of research into the benefits of including the arts in a well-rounded education (applying the STEAM vs. STEM principles), and our universities are now looking for students who have specifically included the arts in their education. Our revised BC Curriculum provides educators with many new and exciting opportunities to incorporate the arts into their classrooms. My commitment to our community started before my work as a trustee, including serving on our District’s Municipal Community Grants committee for 4 years. I fully understand the importance of funding arts, cultural organizations, and individuals in the many communities that make up our district, and supporting their work. School trustees work within the budget that is set by the Ministry of Education, and that budget is quite limited, so we have to be extremely careful how we spend that resource and still ensure strong support for all aspects of our student’s education, including the arts. We cannot allocate our specific school budget outside of that scope. However, there are many ways that schools and educators can and do engage in community outreach through arts, culture, and heritage projects and events, and I support an increase in those activities. Bringing our local creative community into our education will further develop our students’ understanding of the importance of these areas - an understanding that can take that message out to the broader community through our families and graduates. I will also continue to encourage our Council and Mayor to increase their funding for the arts in any way possible.

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?

I have engaged in a very active role in our local government’s distribution of grants to support arts, culture, heritage, and other community organizations for many years. As a trustee, I currently sit a the School Board liaison on the North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission. And I support our Council and Mayor to focus on their support of arts, culture, and heritage in our community, as I strongly believe that these play a vital role in the education of our students, and in the lives of our families.

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?

The Board of Trustees role is to ensure that our teachers and staff are able to reach their goals with the curriculum by providing the best possible resources within the budget we are provided by the Provincial Government. I believe that arts, culture, and heritage are essential to a quality education, and I will continue my strong support of our educators and the arts in any way possible. And I will continue to encourage students and parents to explore the arts when making their decisions on what courses the students wish to pursue. Key here is ensuring that there is equal access to these components for all students, and that our educators are supported and trained to ensure that access.

Cultural Growth

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

I am the current trustee liaison on the North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission. In this role, I share information that is pertinent form the School District with the Commission, such as events with our school district Artists for Kids program and student art shows in our community and at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. As a community member, I will continue to support our local government in making investments in arts, culture, and heritage an ongoing priority, and encouraging our Council to explore new opportunities to develop these areas. And again, through supporting our educators and staff within the school district, trustees can have a positive influence on the promotion of arts and culture programs through our schools.

Cultural Spaces

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

As above, this is primarily beyond the scope of the role of a school trustee. I will continue to support our Council and Mayor to consider this issue. As a trustee, I am always open to new ideas or concepts, and will be happy to discuss input from our community.

Cultural Tourism

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

Again, this question is mostly outside of the scope of our school trustee roles. However, by supporting a healthy and thriving school district that embraces the diversity of the cultures we are fortunate to enjoy in North Vancouver, we can help students and families explore cultural opportunities, and encourage others to visit and enjoy our community.

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

I believe that in our schools, it is our job to provide resources for students to learn about art, and the opportunities to try many different forms of art it in a safe and nurturing way. By developing a deep appreciation of the arts while in school, I believe our students will grow up to be strong advocates for ensuring the arts and culture of our community is supported. And hopefully many of our students will choose art and cultural based careers, and will themselves contribute to our community through that path.

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?

I think the most important issue for our school district is to continue to ensure that art is actively included as part of the curriculum, and that the experience of art and culture fully reaches all students, with sufficient funding allocated in the budget to support our students’ growth in all forms of art. We need to continue to support our teachers in their goal to teach the relevance of art, culture, and heritage in both understanding each other and engaging fully in the world around us, in our local community and globally. Our new BC Curriculum acknowledges the importance of the arts by including a grade 11 or 12 fine arts course as a graduation requirement, and by providing a much wider range of opportunities to individualize student learning in a way that can significantly increase the use of art as an educational tool. Our District support for the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art and programs such as Artists for Kids and the Cheakamus Centre and Outdoor School is critical to ensure we have the ability to give students high value options to pursue art and cultural learning. However, we must also focus on providing our teachers and staff with the training and resources to ensure all students have appropriate access to learning through arts and culture. We need to ensure that we have a more inclusive learning experience for students with learning challenges - such as autism/developmental disabilities or mental health concerns - which can interfere with a student’s participation in art or drama classes. This is an something that I have and will continue to advocate for in my role as school trustee.

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 fortunate to live in a municipality where we are able to experience a wide variety of arts, culture, and heritage events. North Vancouver has wonderful opportunities to engage with art pretty much on a daily basis. Our school district building embodies this with the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art in our main floor. My interest in the cultural and arts aspects of our community lead me to serve on our district’s Municipal Community Grants committee for 4 years before being elected as trustee. I joined this committee as I believe in supporting our local arts and community groups, as they are the ones who help create vibrant and diverse opportunities for everyone. Some of my personal favourite events have included First Nations pow wows, the Caribbean Days Festival and Parade, and enjoying the local musicians, artists, and artisans at the Shipyards Night Market.

Additional Information

If you'd like to provide voters with additional information about your stance on arts, culture, and heritage issues in your community, please use the space below.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my views with you. I am a firm believer that we need to support and create arts, cultural, and heritage educational opportunities both through our schools and throughout our district. In my role as Trustee, I have seen first hand how these important aspects of our experiences as members of society help transform our understandings of each other and increase our ability to think creatively in all aspects of our lives. Arts, culture, and heritage are not luxuries or extras; they form the foundation of how we view and respond to our world. And I will continue to support and advocate for all students to have increased access to this vital creative field.