Laurel Collins

Name

Laurel Collins

Jurisdiction

Victoria

Running for

City/Town Council

Party or Slate (if applicable)

Together Victoria

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 2015, the City invested $8.5 million in total investment for arts, culture, heritage and library service delivery to the community. This is in addition to cash and in-kind contributions from the federal government that resulted from the City’s funding.

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, on council I will continue to champion the arts, culture and heritage, and ensure we are promoting their growth. Together Victoria is committed to making Victoria a more thriving city, which includes supporting a vibrant arts community.

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?

I will advocate to our local school board trustees and the provincial government to ensure arts are included as an essential component of our education system.

Cultural Growth

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

On council I will support the Victoria Art Gallery in becoming a Canada-wide leader in Indigenous Art & Culture. I will also support the creation of new murals across the city.

Cultural Spaces

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

I will support the proposed new ArtsHub in the former Maritime Museum. In our Together Victoria platform we have also outlined how we will revitalize the inner harbour with off-season events for Victoria residents. We will work with existing and potential community spaces to ensure that these spaces are accessible and affordable as showcases for local artists.

Cultural Tourism

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

I am committed to supporting more music, arts and mobile businesses to enliven our core tourist district, and conducting a full-summer second phase pilot on Government St restricting traffic during the weekend. In addition, as mentioned above, we will make the Victoria Art Gallery a Canada-wide leader.

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

Affordable housing and working spaces are critical for artists to come to and remain in a community. Our Together Victoria housing plan contains concrete proposals for making Victoria an affordable city, including a commitment to ensure that 50% of all new development is affordable. We will also leverage the city’s community amenity requirement powers in zoning to ensure developers contribute to creating spaces for artists to work and display work.

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?

The biggest barrier to a vibrant and long-lived artistic community in Victoria is the cost of living. Together Victoria is committed to making this city more affordable for everyone, so we can all pursue our passions.

I am also committed to revisiting the City’s heritage policies. The City now gives out over $1 million each year in tax breaks to luxury condo owners who have bought in to “heritage” developments that “preserve” little more than a foot-thick facade. The City’s heritage policies aren’t working for residents and need an overhaul. I want to work with heritage experts and citizens to find a way to ensure that we really are protecting heritage and not just handing out tax breaks to luxury condo developers.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 a long time supporter and promoter of arts and culture in our community. I was the creative director for The Art of Movements in 2012. This free community event brought together performances and workshops to explore how dance can contribute to social movements, how politics, activism, and social justice can bring richness to dance, and how these two kinds of movement can come together to contribute to our communities. I was previously a board member of the Township Community Arts Council, which puts on and promotes arts and cultural events the Township of Esquimalt. I have also previously worked as the Executive Director of the Victoria Multi-Cultural Society, providing space and organizing arts events in Victoria. In addition, my research on nonviolence and social activism uses art-based methodologies. I am committed to promoting the arts in our community as art and culture brings communities together, enhances our well-being, as well as benefits our local economy.