Jurisdiction (Please indicate your municipality, regional district, or trust area)
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?
Vancouver supports arts, culture and heritage through a variety of grants and other programs. For 2017, this is estimated at $30.1 million. The City also operates important venues, such as the Queen Elizabeth and Orpheum Theatres.
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?
Arts, culture & heritage programs not only enrich the local community; they also support tourism, and return multiples of economic activity. Cities with rich and diverse creative communities also attract top talent for local business and post-secondary institutions. I have been active in the arts my whole life; Park Board would simply be another opportunity to continue this work.
How will your local government maintain or grow its investment in cultural programs in your community?
Park Board has limited jurisdiction in this area, since it must go to City Council for all its capital, and a portion of operating funding. Still, Park Board hosts scores of arts, music, cinema, theatre, cultural and other events throughout the park system each year. And a number of cultural institutions, including Bard on the Beach, VanDusen Gardens, Vancouver Maritime Museum and Museum of Vancouver, are located within our parks. Ensuring fair rent, accessibility, marketing support and reasonable rules all help.
Will you work to ensure access to affordable, sustainable cultural spaces for artists and arts organizations? If so, how?
Park Board operates a number of community spaces, primarily community centres, pools and other recreation facilities. Some of these already have integrated cultural spaces, but many of these need upgrades. Future facilities must be flexible and adaptable to multipurpose uses. They can also go beyond purely utilitarian functionality by incorporating public art into their design. The Vancouver Biennale and Lumiere Vancouver are a fantastic examples of thought-provoking art in our public spaces.
How do you propose to improve cultural tourism in your community?
Cultural tourism must start by engaging cultural communities. It's not the Park Board's job to determine how culture should be expressed, and it should actively resist the temptations of cultural appropriation - such as has been happening with First Nations since the City's founding. Once a program of activities has been decided, Park Board, though existing channels, should engage our tourism partners, including at the regional, provincial and federal levels. My 27 years in the travel industry give me specific insights into how the tourism industry functions, and how to avoid the pitfalls of overly commodifying culture. I believe in immersive, slow cultural tourism; not quick hits of pseudo-culture and checking off attractions from your bucket list.
How do you propose to attract or retain artists and cultural workers in your community?
We start with housing. Despite the economic benefits of arts and culture, those who work in the industry are, with few exceptions, poorly paid. Live and work spaces need to be dedicated, appropriate, and protected from market forces. Much like a minimum wage, there should also be minimum remuneration for cultural workers that's based as much on hours worked as hours spent in preparation for work. None of this, of course, falls within Park Board's purview, but I'm certainly prepared to advocate for them. Artists will go where inspiration and work take them; create the right conditions, and word-of-mouth will attract them to Vancouver.
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?
Like nearly every other civic endeavour, it's always easier to find capital funding than operating. I'd like to explore an endowment (and maybe sell the naming rights?) or other forms of sustainable, predictable arts, culture and heritage funding. Park Board itself just recently created a foundation to receive bequests and corporate donations; funds can either be earmarked for specific projects, or be designated discretionary for the Board to decide.
How do you personally engage in the cultural life of the community? (e.g. involvement on committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)
Through my business interests, I have been both a financial and media sponsor of a number of LGBTQ2+ organizations. Most recently this includes the Queer Film Festival and Queer Arts Society. I've recently attended cultural performances ranging from theatre (Angels in America), pop music (Lady Gaga) and edgy comedy (Kathy Griffin; Margaret Cho, in Whistler). While it's been a few years since I last performed, I have been a chorister since childhood, while also volunteering on the boards of several choirs. At the invitation of David C Jones, I served at term on the board of the Bob Loblaw Queer Arts Society. And I've been both a Parade Grand Marshall (1999) and board secretary at the Vancouver Pride Society. At university, my practicum was working with Catalyst Theatre in Edmonton; my fundraising project was to organize a dance and hire kd lang and the Reclines as the entertainment - it was 1985, before she became famous.
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.
Arts, culture and heritage should never be limited to the city centre. Getting arts into all corners of the community requires planning, funding and facilities. I take my inspiration from Out On Screen's 'Out in Schools' program of bringing positive LGBTQ2+ films into small BC communities. Our community centres can play a major role as a venue; providing orientation to the community recreation association boards can provide insights into the value this brings to their neighbourhoods; and Park Board and other sponsored funding for artists and facilitators makes it possible for them to share their talents at the grassroots level.