Harm Jacob Woldring
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?
Accountability for spending in New Westminster is the primary issue in New Westminster. Our 2017 salary bill exceeded tax revenues by about $8M. If we want to build our already great arts scene we must change the culture at City Hall and that begins with new leadership and an independent council that brings a range of outlooks and ideas to the table. It is my opinion that the City could do more for the arts in our community but FIRST, we have to take control of the City's finances. I support the commitment on Massey Hall, would like to see more theater, dance, and live music performance across the range of venues available. I'd also like to encourage more private businesses featuring the arts by bringing commercial taxes in line with neighbouring cities.
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?
The future is all about entertainment and the arts. We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the ever growing role of the arts in our daily lives. New West has a very active arts scene and I would reach out to them to help us better understand the opportunities we are missing. We are a college town and I would encourage, as feasible, the growth of arts focused educational opportunities.
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 would refer you to a series of TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson about education https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity? While he may not be talking specifically about the arts he is talking about creativity which is the foundation of arts. He also points out that we are focused too heavily on only educational success and leave out too many whose talents are needed to build a balanced society.
How will your local government maintain or grow its investment in cultural programs in your community?
To repeat, New West's primary problem is a lack of financial accountability. There are massive imbalances that need to be addressed. As these are addressed new opportunities to support our arts community will emerge. For example, I would reach out to existing festivals to offer our available venues to expand their reach to audiences that may not wish to travel to Vancouver. I would promote and explore how to use 21st century technologies to engage the community using real-time, interactive, consensus building public engagement tools. The best answers about the arts live in the arts community, we need to listen and learn but then take action.
Will you work to ensure access to affordable, sustainable cultural spaces for artists and arts organizations? If so, how?
New West has a few purpose built live-work spaces on Carnarvon St. which were built several years ago. They are all vacant except for the one the property management company is using as their office. Why? Because our tax structure makes these units unaffordable for artists. The basic problem of financial accountability affects all aspects of our community including the arts. I would love to see all these units occupied and enlivening our community. We need to get a course correction in place so that we can achieve this goal and many others.
How do you propose to improve cultural tourism in your community?
Hosting and participating in arts based programming in our available venues will bring more people to New West, neighbors from our local neighbors who may never otherwise have a reason to visit the Royal City.
How do you propose to attract or retain artists and cultural workers in your community?
I hope I've touched on this question in some of my previous answers. We need to chart a course to balance first so we can achieve the growth we need to reach this goal.
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?
Please refer to my previous answers.
How do you personally engage in the cultural life of the community? (e.g. involvement on committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)
In addition to my job I have been chair of a non-profit child care organization for the past 20 years, the Parkcrest Child Care Society. I was on the board of Kenneth Gordon School for 11 years. This school helps children who learn differently and creates a new life for children who fail in the public school system and become the generations of lost kids who populate our streets. I believe in people, but we as a a society need to do better. While rejection and abandonment sparks creativity in some, the human cost of the rest weighs us all down. In the past few years, I have had the totally wonderful pleasure of meeting and getting to know a leading light in our regional arts community, Heather Redfern of The Cultch in East Vancouver. I don't believe there is a better example of an individual committed to bringing the world to the stages of our community. She is an example that could lead New West to become another unlikely destination for cultural growth.