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?
No, the City of Abbotsford does not disclose specifically what is spent on Arts and Culture. Parks, Rec & Culture has an annual budget of approx. $32 million but I would be in favour of specific arts targeted funding.
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, as I am involved in the Arts already quite heavily. All my children dance, take part in musical theatre, etc and my daughter has had her art displayed in Kariton Gallery. Just this year, I took part in a musical theatre production. Arts and music in a child's life will create productive and involved adults in our 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?
By working with the School District to maximize local resources to insure access to the Arts for all children no matter what school they go to, or what socio-economic part of the community they reside in. We must also promote cross-cultural participation.
How will your local government maintain or grow its investment in cultural programs in your community?
Firstly, we must listen. When asked to participate in the development of the arts and culture portion of the Plan A Project, the City gathered up feedback and then ignored it all. In the present, capital development is in the Master Plan, but there is no mention of ongoing support beyond that which is already present. We must bring stakeholders into the conversation and then make Arts & Culture a line item in the budget instead of an after thought for whatever funds are left over.
Will you work to ensure access to affordable, sustainable cultural spaces for artists and arts organizations? If so, how?
There are some facilities planned, but they time frame is much to long to be useful. The City of Abbotsford has the funding to begin work in this area, but chooses not to. For this, and other reasons, I am running to change Council's priorities.
How do you propose to improve cultural tourism in your community?
Firstly, we must support arts and culture in the community. Without regular funding, we don't have a reliable product to promote to the tourist industry. That is the first step...a real budget with real numbers and a real, and funded, marketing plan.
How do you propose to attract or retain artists and cultural workers in your community?
While the capital projects in the community Master Plans will create the physical spaces for artists, etc to come and work, without a consistent and reliable budget, they would have no reason to come here. Art, just like business, thrives in areas where there is stability and growth. In both of these areas, Abbotsford has been lacking to date. Rather it has relied on the construction of capital projects such as The Reach Art Gallery, and then hoping that once it is built, people will come. They don't...not without real, ongoing, marketing and promotion.
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?
Access is critical. The City of Abbotsford spent more than $10 million constructing The Reach Art Gallery. Over its annual budget, it loses nearly another $700,000 each year. This facility should be accessible to all, except it is only open during business hours. So, if you work for a living, the taxes you pay go to a facility that is not open for you to visit. Changing the operating hours won't change the deficit, but it will allow the community to see the value in the facility while they get access to the wonderful art and exhibits that they do have.
How do you personally engage in the cultural life of the community? (e.g. involvement on committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)
I am the President of the AbbyFest Multicultural Society and also the Past President of the Robert Bateman Secondary School PAC. My children are involved in the Arts from dance to theatre and visual arts. I enjoyed the first 5 months of this year rehearsing and performing the role of Harold Hill in The Music Man, a classic broadway musical that was staged in Chilliwack.
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.
Funding for any activity the people of Abbotsford want to engage in requires a balance. In addition to funding roads, hockey arenas and sports fields, we also need to fund the arts. To do so properly takes real planning and commitment, or it is one of the first things to be cut when times are hard. The City of Abbotsford has a surplus of $160 million right now due to over taxing us the last 3 years while property values skyrocketed. Now is the time to make a long term commitment to the arts and culture community.