I am a strong supporter of public arts in Vancouver and was a co-founder of the Douglas Park Committee for the Arts in 1994. During the 8 years that I spent on this committee, we participated in the Park Board’s Artist in Residence program (community benches), sponsored a "coffee house" night with local entertainers for a couple of years, arranged to have artwork displayed in the community centre, put on a couple of art shows in the early 2000′s, and organized a celebration of the Christmas Tree lighting in Douglas Park.
Government policy on the arts has been in the news lately because of the federal Conservatives’ de facto censoring of Canadian films if they don’t meet "acceptable" criteria, and their decision to cut funding for artists who want to widen the appreciation of their work outside of Canada. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives have decreased support for the arts and culture during their terms; for example, to the CBC.
Locally, although the creative sector represent the highest percentage of artists in the labour force of any Canadian city (8% in Metro Vancouver’s core area), the per capita spending ($26) in Vancouver is actually lower than in many other cities such as Montreal ($33).
The Park Board and its community association partners have many arts programs including classes in pottery, drama, Chinese caligraphy, South Asian dancing, and aboriginal drumming – to name just a few! The Park Board also has an Artist in Residence program and its Neighbourhood Matching Fund also assists arts projects in our parks. The Park Board also has agreements to display art in our parks such as the sculptures which are displayed biennielly by the Buschlen-Mowatt gallery.
COPE believes that arts and culture are essential for healthy communities, urban innovation, and economic development. If elected as Parks Commissioners, Loretta Woodcock and I will:
1. Meet with members of the community to assess the possibility of arts groups using the old Mount Pleasant Community Centre.
2. Seek to establish "Arts Markets" adjacent to existing Farmer’s Markets that are close to Park Board lands and facilities.