Mayoral Candidates Agree: Arts and Culture Can Unleash Vancouver's Potential

Clockwise from top left: Hector Bremner, Ken Sim, Kennedy Stewart, David Chen, Wai Young, Shauna Sylvester.

Clockwise from top left: Hector Bremner, Ken Sim, Kennedy Stewart, David Chen, Wai Young, Shauna Sylvester.

Mayoral candidates held forth on funding for arts and culture at the October 2 Mayors’ Candidate Forum in Vancouver, hosted by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. Their responses to a question on the role of arts and culture gave some insight into their positions on the arts ahead of the October 20 municial election.

“Arts and culture are a huge part of Vancouver’s economy,” Hector Bremner, Yes Vancouver’s mayoral candidate told about 100 people who attended the forum, moderated by journalist Francis Bula.

Bremner said arts and culture propel the tourism and hospitality industries, the tech industry, architecture, retail and more, and promised to employ both a “night mayor” and a “music officer” if he’s elected.

Wai Young, mayoral candidate for Coalition Vancouver, said our arts and culture sector “has the potential to make Vancouver the most interesting city in the world.” 

During a meeting when the six mayoral candidates were often in conflict about other issues such as affordability and transit, the question about arts and culture, posed by the BC Alliance, generated rare agreement amongst the political rivals. Their combined message: great arts, culture and heritage make great cities.

Independent mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart, who informed the crowd that he is a former musician who often played the Commodore Ballroom, promised “100,000 square feet of creative space.” 

Shauna Sylvester, also an independent candidate, said arts and culture “is one of the most exciting parts of our economy.” Sylvester agreed that affordable creative space was a key issue and called for “more spaces for grassroots culture.”

David Chen, who is running for mayor for the ProVancouver party said, “People want to enjoy life. If your civilization isn’t inspired and happy, they don’t go to work, pay taxes.”

When Sylvester brought up the subject of the new Vancouver Art Gallery, saying it should be built — but the site should also accommodate ample studio space where artists can work — all the other candidates voiced agreement, except for Stewart, who said the project required more research about its financial feasibility.

The candidates answered just one question about arts and culture at this meeting. On October 15, the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture and Museum of Vancouver will host a meeting entirely devoted arts and culture issues. See details here.

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