Ian Soutar

Name

Ian Soutar

Jurisdiction

Coquitlam

Running for

City/Town Council

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?

Art is a vital part of connecting communities from every culture, something that transcends language and time. As an artist myself and someone who understands that the arts are chronically underfunded in every sector across the country, I fully support the advocacy for increases to arts, culture and heritage in Coquitlam and the Tri-Cities.

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?

Coquitlam and indeed cities across Canada and the world are in dire need of more champions to advocate for the arts in every area of their jurisdictions. I would indeed take an active role in this advocacy as I have seen first hand the immense value that regular participation in the arts can have on both individuals and communities.

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 remember very well taking arts classes throughout my time in the public education system, as they were some of the only refuges I had to the systemic problems entwined in the foundation of our educational culture. Typically arts are found at the very bottom of the food chain as far as resources are considered, and usually the first to be axed in times of attrition. I believe that Coquitlam has already started many endeavours to grow the arts within our city, and I would push to see them expanded through both funding and exploring other jurisdictions to see how they have found success in this area, especially considering that Port Moody, the City of the Arts is just next door to us.

Cultural Growth

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

There is a very limited amount of space in Coquitlam for the arts, and a key part of my platform is to create a distinct entertainment sector for our city. The arts, of course, would play a key component in this, and would be grown by creating more public and private spaces for arts and culture to be celebrated, developed and promoted. There has been great work done on growing the commercial area of our city, specifically with Coquitlam Center, and now it is time to grow the cultural well-being of the people that live here.

Cultural Spaces

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

I will again point to the plank of my platform for creating and sustaining a healthy entertainment sector within our city. While there are many aspects to entertainment, my primary focus will be on family friendly, sustainable spaces with fun for all ages, something that art has always been successful at doing. This involves creating actual spaces for art to be made and displayed, something that would have consultation with the local community as an integral part of its creation.

Cultural Tourism

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

One of the main frustrations I have with the existing entertainment in our city is that it is difficult to find and even more difficult to access. Creating a transit loop through existing features will be key, but also creating a centralised database for people to access will be very important to make sure that these different pieces are easy to find and promote.

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

An idea that has often gone through my mind as an individual when going through Coquitlam is the immense amount of open space on buildings and especially the Skytrain supports that is currently just sitting grey and lifeless. I envision a program or grant from the city that would see artists apply to fill these spaces with beautiful local art, something that would reflect the diversity and beauty of all the people who live here. Besides the obvious benefits to the aforementioned entertainment sector, I see many different areas that the city could invest in beautification for our existing infrastructure that would attract artists and tourists to Coquitlam, and certainly make it a focal point for the Lower Mainland, rather than just a regular suburb.

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, the aboslute top priority for culture, heritage and arts in Coquitlam is with the indigenous community, specifically the Kwikwetlem people. There are many systemic problems that require changes to allow for this population to thrive, but I believe the most prudent way to move forward on this issue is with nation-to-nation consultation with the Kwikwetlem and meaningful actions taken to address their needs. It is a miracle that these people have survived the age of colonialism, and it is up to everyone to make sure that they are able to thrive in this complex age of reconciliation.

Participation

How do you personally engage in the cultural life of the community? (e.g. involvement on committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)

While I haven't had the time I wish I could dedicate to the arts since I was in high school, I still manage to participate in activities such as Gallery Bistro's "Writers in our Midst," where I have done several readings from my own work. I also make myself available to perform at events that celebrate inclusivity, arts and culture, such as the pro-SOGI rally where I will be singing and playing my ukulele.

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 have been involved privately in art since my very earliest memories. My dream job when I was in elementary school was to be an animator, but found that the school system quashed these dreams very early on. Still, I have performed as a Highland dancer around the world for many years, and I am an avid writer of both poetry and prose. In the last year I have been determined to set aside time for art in my daily life, and have become fairly skilled at the ukulele. It has helped me stay calm and collected in the often divisive world of politics and help keep the artist inside me alive.