Jennifer Blatherwick

Name

Jennifer Blatherwick

Jurisdiction

School District #43: Coquitlam

Running for

School Board

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?

Like many school districts, School District 43 has reduced funding for the arts, especially at the elementary school level. Although students are provided with limited access to music instruction, it may not be conducted by a qualified music teacher, and so it is difficult to tease out exactly what funds are being spent on music or art for the early grades. Many quality programs are subsidized by parent fundraising and teacher volunteer hours, showing the value our community puts on the arts. I will definitely be advocating for investing more resources back those into music and arts programs.

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?

Yes. All students benefit from participating in programs that encourage artistic expression, co-operation and cross-discipline learning. Research shows that healthy music and arts programs increase graduation rates and student success. Music programs keep at-risk students in school, and connect them to their communities, and enrich the lives of all students.

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?

Every Coquitlam student should have the opportunity to develop a richer life through the arts. To get them started on the path, I will advocate for more qualified, dedicated music teachers at the elementary level.

Cultural Growth

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

School districts need to promote not just arts instruction in the schools, but also events, collaborations and display spaces. Artists develop by striving for goals, and so I would advocate for more opportunities to bring bands, choirs and art students from across the district together, to have events to work towards, and learn from each other. Developing more summer school programs that focus on music and the arts is a great place to start.

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?

Music and the arts are becoming an unaffordable luxury - families with greater resources have the time for private music or arts lessons, while those without are unable to participate. At the same time, there is a lack of music teacher instructional time in the public school system. Right now, we need more dedicated, qualified instructional time, and I will advocate for increase.

Participation

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

For the past several years, I have been the Association Director for BC for Odyssey of the Mind, a school team-sport that combines STEM skills and art. It brings school teams together to engineer a technical creation, and present that as part of a self-written play. Teams are required to make their own costumes, sets, and music. I've seen how valuable this cross-discipline approach is for students, both as the league organizer and as a coach for two teams.

My own children participate in band, choir and musical theatre productions, and during the season, I volunteer during practices twice a week. To help support the music program at Maillard Middle School, I've been part of the PAC fundraising over the last 5 years, bringing in over $16,000 for the band and choir program.