Party or Slate (if applicable)
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?
Yes, esp. regarding priorities for affordable housing, preserving cultural spaces & stopping gentrification across the city.
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?
All of COPE candidates believe that participation in and appreciation of arts & culture should be an essential part of family life, the schools and life in our community, available to all regardless of income, racial and cultural background, language, or any other barrier that might exclude some from the full benefit to be epxerienced.
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?
All of COPE's candidates commit to making the arts a critical component of every child's education not because of an arbitrary goal like a grade point average but because it helps develop a child's intelligence, creativity, self-expression, confidence, joy, decision-making skills, sense of self, sense of community and culture, abstract reasoning, empathy, compassion and sense of justice.
How will your local government maintain or grow its investment in cultural programs in your community?
Thankfully, our school system has emerged from the 17 years of austerity imposed by the previous Liberal government because the BC Teachers' Federation won, finally, in the courts. It will take many years to fully recover the level of staffing that children enjoyed prior to the cutbacks when there were speciality teachers, such as trained art and music teachers, in every school, from K to 12. We can also provide cultural programming in neighbourhood centres and community centres. COPE is committed to eliminating fees for cultural and recreational programs for children so all children, no matter what the income of their families, can participate fully and equally.
Will you work to ensure access to affordable, sustainable cultural spaces for artists and arts organizations? If so, how?
Cultural spaces across the city are being threatened by the forces of gentrification. With the massive infusion of global wealth that has sparked real estate speculation and the building of high end condo towers for investment rather than living, we are losing more and more affordable spaces. COPE intends to use every tool in the city toolbox to curb speculation, such as increasing the empty homes tax, designating land for affordable rental only. We are also proposing a progressive property tax for commercial and residential properties. We plan to advocate for a small business tax to support neighbourhood businesses or cultural organizations and a large business tax for Microsoft and Amazon. Through the city's business tax, we could also work with local communities to combat gentrification by ensuring that new businesses and cultural activities do not displace locals and do provide services that locals need.
How do you propose to improve cultural tourism in your community?
COPE strongly supports cultural events like the Eastside Culture Crawl and would work with artists to develop and preserve other such spaces that could operate year-round. Council candidate Jean Swanson has worked with Chinatown Action toward preserving Chinatown and ensuring "revitalization" efforts do not displace the local community.
How do you propose to attract or retain artists and cultural workers in your community?
Vancouver is in danger of becoming a city only for the rich. Increasingly, there is no housing that students, emerging artists, and long-established artists earning an average income can afford. What housing people have is threatened by demolition as developers seek to maximize profits by building ever-higher towers. COPE is the only party demanding a temporary Rent Freeze for four years while we attempt to deal with this housing crisis. By creating a Mansion Tax on homes assessed at more than $5 million, the city can acquire sufficient funds to build modular housing as well as build affordable, non-profit, rental housing for artists and other poor people. The market is broken. We can no longer rely on the private market to build the housing we need.
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?
Affordability in every area: housing, transportation, child care, recreation programs at community centres, field trips in the schools. We are losing our artists, musicians, and other cultural workers; we are losing our youth. Businesses and other organizations cannot find the workers to hire and so are closing down.
How do you personally engage in the cultural life of the community? (e.g. involvement on committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)
First and foremost, I'm a huge fan of my son's musical career as a guitarist with the wildly successful band Five Alarm Funk and attend every concert when in town. It does give me insight to the challenges musicians face in Vancouver and across the country.
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.