Dr. Jane Vermeulen
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, I would be committed to increasing funding for a cultural investment into arts, culture and heritage in Esquimalt. I have reviewed the grant recipients for 2018. Much of our arts and culture are supported through the Township Community Arts Council (TCAC). As stated on the TCAC website: "we create a physical and organizational arts infrastructure for our Township. We advocate for and promote local artists and their works and programs, supporting access for residents to the arts in their own community."
We have a vibrant arts and culture community spirit and Esquimalt is being known for our festivals and theatre/music offerings. Growing the arts and culture in our community benefits everyone - patrons, businesses, residents and most importantly, children, who can carry that passion for arts throughout their lives.
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?
Yes! Esquimalt's dedication to arts, culture and heritage is one of the reasons why I was so committed to running for council. I feel that Esquimalt council has made growing our arts and culture a priority and recognizes how it can improve our community, attract future development and engage residents.
I also love how Esquimalt has a "natural" backdrop of ocean, green space and forests. We have been able to use our parks and beaches to host performances, display art and highlight our heritage. When I moved to Esquimalt and walked to High Rock park, I was startled to encountered someone dressed in a knight's costume - we even have Live Action Role Playing!
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?
Personally, music and drama played a significant role in building my confidence when I was in high school - not everyone is athletic!
Our Parks and Recreation offer a significant amount of classes and programs in music, dance and drama in all ages.
The Township of Esquimalt is on the unceded territory of the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations and I would like to see an expansion of First Nations arts, language and culture at all levels of education.
How will your local government maintain or grow its investment in cultural programs in your community?
The TCAC has shown that a group of dedicated volunteers can make a significant impact on a community's arts and culture programs. The Township of Esquimalt, through grants, has been able to support programs such as Aeriosa! and Bard Across the Bridge.
Esquimalt will also receive $17 million dollars in funding (Amenities Funds) and the current council has been seeking public engagement on how that money can be used to improve Esquimalt. I am hopeful that the funds can support and grow our cultural programs.
Will you work to ensure access to affordable, sustainable cultural spaces for artists and arts organizations? If so, how?
As Esquimalt grows and new development arrives, it is my hope that we can increase the space available to artists. We have a new music studio in Esquimalt that has also becoming "multi-purpose" and is renting out their space to other artists and teachers. This space used to be a corner store that stood empty so it is great to see it thrive.
My hope is that we will continue to grow the cultural spaces in Esquimalt. I had heard residents ask about the feasibility of a band-shell - this may be an idea to explore. We also have partnerships with businesses and the Tudor Liquor has an "artist in residence" program that hopefully can be sustained and grow to other businesses.
How do you propose to improve cultural tourism in your community?
I think as Esquimalt grows and we develop more retail and dining spots, people across from Victoria can see Esquimalt as a place to spend an evening enjoying good food, good wine and good music (or sculpture, or plays, or acrobats).
As bike lanes and walking paths improve, we can make "car-free" access part of the experience! Many people are not aware that they can walk from downtown Victoria to Esquimalt through our beautiful ocean walkway.
How do you propose to attract or retain artists and cultural workers in your community?
The TCAC has shown that Esquimalt can attract artists and cultural workers to the community. However, like every municipality in the Victoria area, we need to address housing affordability.
I would like to continue to support the work of the TCAC through grants and volunteer recruitment.
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?
Right now, I feel that the most important issue relating to arts/culture/heritage is that the groups that create and support the festivals are primarily volunteer- run which can lead to burnout. As someone who has created my own non-profit organization and sat on several boards, I am well aware that the work of these events often fall onto a few key people. Naturally, ongoing funding is an issue for any organization and my hope is that the municipality can continue to help through grants.
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 very young children so we try to attend the Music fests at Memorial Park as there is a playground on site as well! They play and we all get to the enjoy the music!
I have loved Shakespeare since my first introduction to Hamlet. In the past, I would go to the Hillside area to watch the outdoor Shakespeare performances but was thrilled that we now have "Bard over the Bridge" and can just walk over to Saxe Point park!