Richard Stewart

Name

Richard Stewart

Jurisdiction

Coquitlam

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?

We have several arts/cultural venues/programs, and I've always taken the position that parts of many things we do is the arts, so separating out our funding for Place des Arts and Evergreen Cultural Centre, for example, wouldn't be illustrative. I believe in the arts, and I wholeheartedly support continuing to increase Coquitlam's investment in the arts (including public art), culture and heritage.

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?

Absolutely. I have been a strong supporter throughout my time on Council, as Councillor and for the past decade as Mayor.

We celebrate heritage all the time in Coquitlam. Our rich diversity gives many opportunities for heritage and cultural celebration. Arts and culture serve to allow expression of the lives and values, the contexts and issues in our community, and that can open up a greater understanding among peoples, with all the benefits that provides.

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?

Of course, city government doesn't control the education system (that's the School Board). But we have reached out strongly to our schools with arts programs that can enrich education in so many ways. Both Place des Arts and Evergreen Cultural Centre have rich programming in the arts, aimed at school-aged children, and they are well-subscribed. As well, our Parks Rec and Culture Department offers arts and cultural programming in our parks, and these programs are also very popular. I commit my support to continuing to improve those offerings.

Cultural Growth

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

We recognize that making some types of investments in our community is challenging, particularly if they are funded out of property taxes. That's one of the key reasons why we established our Community Amenity Contributions program. We're now using those funds to advance arts and cultural investments.

Cultural Spaces

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

Yes. This is always a challenge. Particularly during the current crisis in land values, we hear from artists, theatre troupes, etc. about the high cost of developing artistic "space". Yet, without such spaces, our community is poorer. I'd like us to explore what other communities have done to create these spaces.

Cultural Tourism

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

We pushed hard for more than a decade to achieve Skytrain to Coquitlam. We have one of the only Skytrain lines named after a cultural centre; Coquitlam's Evergreen Cultural Centre was named specifically to encourage folks to take public transit to the theatre. And it has worked.

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

Similar answer to "Cultural Spaces" since the availability of Cultural Spaces is a key criterion to welcoming artists. Without these spaces, performance venues, and a welcoming attitude, artists won't stay, and our community will be poorer.

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 our community, it is space. Rehearsal space at Evergreen Cultural Centre, and a wide range of space issues at Place des Arts. Both were built decades ago, and both need expansion.

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 attend almost every arts and cultural event in our community, and I pushed to initiate several of these events, including our Kaleidoscope Arts Festival. I love the cultural life of our community, and promote it whenever I can. For example, a few years ago I joined our local theatre troupe (Stage 43) in trying to promote their theatre performances by doing a "walk-on" role, and including other elected officials in doing walk-on roles. I have even played a naturist on-stage, something I suspect few elected officials can say.