Lisa Helps

Name

Lisa Helps

Jurisdiction

Victoria

Running for

Mayor

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?

The City has a number of budgets for arts and culture totalling approximately $1.4 million – this is for events, festivals, banners, public art and more. In addition to this, the Festival Investment Grant budget is $222,000. The City’s budget for our two library locations totals approx. $5.4 million. Heritage grants (including the $420,000 for building incentive grants through the Victoria Civic Heritage Trust) total approximately $753,000. The City also contributes to the CRD arts programs including Arts grants, $922,000, the Royal Theatre $218,000, and the McPherson Theatre $750,000. In total, on an annual basis the City spends $10.64 million on arts, culture and learning.

The City is already making significant investments in arts, culture and learning. See below for more exciting projects on the horizon!

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, I absolutely will.

In this past term of Council, we worked with the community to create the City’s first ever Arts and Culture Master Plan called, “Create Victoria.” This is a five-year plan that lays out all the ways that the City can support the local arts and culture activities in Victoria. A key recommendation of Create Victoria - and important to our local arts and culture community - is to establish a “Creative Hub” which will be an affordable, programmed space for artists, performers, and creatives from the tech sector. My commitment is to continue the work we’ve already been doing on this project and to secure philanthropic, Provincial, and Federal funding to turn the 30,000 square-foot Bastion Square Courthouse in the heart of our downtown into the Bastion Square Creative Hub. Why champion the growth of arts and culture? Creative expression is a key element of being human, it connects us with ourselves and connect us with each other. It is a necessary element of any human society.

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?

Education is outside the purview of local government; however, I believe that arts and culture education is important to people of all ages. I will work with our local school trustees to ensure that the arts and culture curriculum remains strong in our school system.

A few months ago, a high school student from Vic High came to our campaign office and said she was wanted to illustrate our campaign and her perspective on life in Victoria through a graphic narrative. I told our Campaign Manager to pay her out of the campaign budget because we believe that the arts needs to be more frequently patronized to ensure their seen as a career—and adding to the public good—not just a personal choice. So yes, art opportunities for youth are very important to me.

Cultural Growth

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

The opening of the Bastion Square Creative Hub, as outlined above, will be a key piece of social and cultural infrastructure that may require additional investment by the City. The Creative Hub will also create economic development opportunities for those working in the arts, culture and creative tech sector. The Creative Hub will be a foundational element for the local arts and culture ecosystem to continue to grow.

Cultural Spaces

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

Absolutely, our flagship project for creating new spaces is the Bastion Square Creative Hub and we are open to further suggestion from the arts community.

Cultural Tourism

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

Tourism is the second largest industry in our City. People from all around the world come to Victoria and—particularly in the summertime—can’t help but be absorbed into the vibrant festival scene that happens in our public spaces. One key opportunity for improving cultural tourism, I think, involves supporting the Songhees Nation in their cultural tourism endeavours. The Nation has opened a Songhees Cultural Centre on the Inner Harbour: they offer guided canoe tours of the harbour and a food truck and catering service that features local Indigenous fare. Supporting their efforts enriches visitors’ experiences of the homelands of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.It deepens their cultural understanding and it’s an important training and economic development opportunity for First Nations.

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

First and foremost, we need to build affordable housing for all incomes. People can’t practice their art in Victoria if our city is too expensive for them to live here. New affordable housing supply is my priority.

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?

For me, it’s the idea that practicing art does not require the same compensation that other professions do. Art as much, and sometimes more, than other occupations contributes to the public good, but seldom are artists compensated adequately for the hours and hours that they spend on their projects. I would like to see greater recognition of art in Victoria’s business community and better wages for practicing artists overall.

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’ve written and performed poetry for 20 years. As mayor, I’ve read poems at the Victorious Voices Youth Arts Festival—Victoria’s annual youth poetry competition—which is always an inspiring event. My true creativity, though, comes out most when I’m working in my garden.

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.

I will stay committed to bringing art to public spaces: murals, paint-ins, arts festivals, live music, and more. It’s important that Victoria builds on its growing arts scene.