Sara Duncan


Sara Duncan



Running for

City/Town Council

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?

Funding for the arts is distributed through multiple grants-in-aid, one-time public art installment funds, funding of community amenities that include art in part of their mandate (e.g. community centres, the Sidney Museum and the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea that include art classes and art and heritage exhibits as well as their other educational activities), and one annual grant to the ArtSea Council, which is the main promoter of the arts in town. The annual ArtSea grant is $10,500, street banners and public decorations are also approx. $10,500, so all told with other various grants, probably $30,000. If spending on community celebrations - parades, the Lantern Festival, Canada Day, etc. - is included, that is an additional approx. $110,000. I feel that we invest a lot in the arts for a community of our size due to the very active arts community here, and it's part of our community identity, so I would be agreeable to increased investment, but without having to increase revenue sources.


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?

I would take an active role in championing the growth of heritage education in our community, particularly continuing bringing forward opportunities for the local Salish people to share their heritage. Sidney has started doing so in the past couple years, with the installation of street banners portraying Sidney's Salish name (Set,tines) as well as a new totem pole in Beacon Park. I would like to see more linkages of that indigenous heritage, and Canadian heritage as well, with our natural heritage; Sidney is a stop on the Canadian Marine Trail, and has a designated NatureHood and federal Marine Bird Sanctuary in Robert's Bay (also encompassing an original village site, Wsi-ikem). Knowing this deeper history of the area could help both First Nations and settler people regain attachment to the land, and become better custodians of the environment and their community.


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 believe the role of the municipal government in children's education is primarily one of allocating funding; I would prioritize funding opportunities that brought arts and culture to children through family-friend public events (e.g. the Lantern Festival) or in extracurricular or field-trip education (e.g. classes at the community centres, the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea).

Cultural Growth

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

I confess this is not my area of greatest focus, I would be deferring on how best to do this to my colleagues who have made supporting the arts one of their passions while on Council. I assume that through our continuing partnerships with our dedicated arts councils (e.g. the ArtSea Community Arts Council, Peninsula Celebrations Society), we'll find ways to efficiently allocate existing committed funds, and possibly increase revenue sources from public events.

Cultural Spaces

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

Yes. Potential mechanisms to do that would include deferring taxes on buildings used by arts societies, using general amenities funds to offset upgrades or purchases of dedicates cultural spaces, or waiving some amenities fund collection from new buildings if they will include affordable dedicated spaces that will really benefit the entire Town.

Cultural Tourism

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

I think by doing more to highlight our natural heritage, particularly the marine, given our large number of new marine events drawing visitors from around the world; and increasing dedication to First Nations heritage, which is a rapidly growing sector of cultural tourism in BC.

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

Housing affordability and lack of transit are the big affordability barriers for all workers in our community - creating affordable housing solutions will help artists and cultural workers, too. Sidney has just permitted live/work units in some new buildings downtown; permitting more live/work units may be especially helpful to cultural workers.

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?

As I've discussed above - the under-exploited opportunity we have to really highlight how much unique and extraordinary natural and First Nations cultural heritage we have here, particularly relating to our "by-the-sea" character. Trying to form closer working partnerships with the local First Nations to find opportunities to bring forward their history in a spirit of reconciliation, and working with our dozen or so local environmental groups to find a suitable key project and get volunteer assistance from local experts (such as using the upcoming renovation of Resthaven Park as an opportunity to create and install educational displays and plantings).


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

I have two children five and under, so I don't get out much, honestly! Primarily we attend family friendly parades, special events and the night market; we go to Tot Tuesday where the kids create sea-themed art and read stories at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. I was a Board member on the Sidney Community Association as Chair of the Environment Committee; am a member of the newly formed Robert's Bay Neighbourhood Association to increase protection and awareness, and perhaps lead to some restoration, of the existing designated environmentally sensitive area; and am on the Board of the fledgling Cycling Without Age Society, an affiliate of an international non-profit, awaiting the delivery of our first custom "trishaw" to take seniors and disabled people, who may no longer be able to get out on their own, on rides to experience their community and life on the street again, and form new friendships with the 'pilots' who pedal the bikes.