Alliance Hosts All Candidates Meeting for the Arts

(L-R): MA, CHANDRA HERBERT, KONKIN AND SULLIVAN  

(L-R): MA, CHANDRA HERBERT, KONKIN AND SULLIVAN
 

Arts and culture in B.C. were the sole focus of the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture's All Candidates Meeting for the Arts last night at SFU Woodward’s. Three representatives from BC Liberals, New Democratic Party and the Green Party all conceded that a thriving cultural scene leads to “more jobs, a healthier economy and better well-being,” in the words of Amanda Konkin, Green Party candidate for Vancouver-Point Grey.
 
NDP’s Spencer Chandra Herbert said that for every dollar invested in the arts, $1.28 is earned in tax dollars. “You get a positive return, so investment should be strong,” the Vancouver-West End incumbent said.
 
Sam Sullivan said his BC Liberal Party is “completely committed” to funding B.C. culture, and cited the $60 million his government currently grants to such organizations as BC Arts Council, Community Gaming Grants, Music BC, and others.
 
About 75 people attended the meeting, organized by the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture and moderated by arts activist Melody Ma. Simon Fraser University’s School of Contemporary Arts sponsored the event.
 
While all the political party reps agreed that arts and culture can “influence politics” and foster “positive change” in communities, as Konkin put it, only the NDP has included an arts policy in its campaign platform.
 
The NDP promises to double the government’s investment in the BC Arts Council, from $24 million to $48 million, over the next four years, Chandra Herbert said. “It’s right there in our platform. And that’s exciting because you can hold us to it.”
 
Sullivan stressed that a robust economy ensures a strong arts and culture scene. “We need a strong economy if we’re going to have funding to allocate grants to the arts,” said the Vancouver-False Creek incumbent.  “And the BC Liberals have had the strongest economy and the fastest growing economy for the past three years.” Sullivan promised that by 2012 all debt would be infrastructure. “We’re out the business of operating on administrative debt.”
 
The Green Party didn’t include arts and culture in its platform, but Konkin said its strong education policy — including funding for special education, such as music and the arts — and the party’s commitment to affordable housing would nurture artists and create improved environment for culture to thrive.
 
Sullivan said “the cost of housing is the most important and corrosive problem in Vancouver right now.” He cited policy restricting downtown density in 1970s as a major culprit and said his party is committed to increasing supply. “We have a huge supply problem; we need more housing.” The NDP and Green Party reps agreed, with the edict that new supply should be in the form of cooperative housing and other affordable housing.
 
The all candidates meeting was part of ArtsVote BC, an Alliance initiative created to keep arts and culture on the agendas of political parties, candidates, and voters in British Columbia.

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