Alliance for Arts releases its civic candidates survey — no response from Mayor Gregor Robertson

Alliance for Arts releases its civic candidates survey — no response from Mayor Gregor Robertson
Jessica Werb, November 17, 2011

The Alliance for Arts and Culture has released the results of a survey it conducted which polled civic candidates across Metro Vancouver on arts, culture, and heritage issues. Of the 442 candidates it was sent to—in all Metro Vancouver communities except Electoral District A and Becarra—280 replied.

In Vancouver, while the NPA’s mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton found time to respond, Mayor Gregor Robertson did not. In addition, only three Vision council candidates, Heather Deal, Kerry Jang, and Andrea Reimer, responded. None of the Vision’s park board candidates responded.

COPE gave statements on behalf of all council candidates, while the party’s council candidates Tim Louis and Ellen Woodsworth also responded individually. None of COPE’s park board candidates responded.

Six NPA council candidates—George Affleck, Elizabeth Ball, Sean Bickerton, Joe Charko, Bill McCreery, and Francis Wong—responded,and one NPA park board candidate—Jason Upton—responded. The NSV (Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver) mayoral candidate Randy Helten responded, as did their four council candidates Nicole Benson, Marie Kerchum, Terry Martin, and Elizabeth Murphy.

“We tried to be really democratic about it and we put a very firm deadline,” said the Alliance’s executive director, Amir Ali Alibhai, by phone. “We did receive some responses after the deadline, but we’ve told people who’ve done that to post on our Facebook if they want to do that. I don’t believe the Mayor was one of them. And he may feel that his candidates or the platform they released was sufficient, but we give everyone the same opportunity, the same chance.”

Alibhai said he was not disappointed by the mayor being a no-show on the survey. “It is what it is,” he said. “We sent out a questionnaire, I think we got an excellent response, and I think people who wanted to say something about the arts did, and those that maybe were too busy or dealing with other issues chose not to, and that’s revealing.”

Vision Vancouver’s campaign communications director Marcella Munro did not immediately know why the mayor neglected to respond to the survey, and said she would look into it.

When asked, among other things, whether they would maintain or increase current arts funding, the NPA’s mayoral and council candidates all said they supported an increase in arts funding, as did COPE and its candidates. Vision candidates said they would maintain it. All NSV candidates said they would increase it except for Terry Martin, who said he would maintain it.

The full survey and responses can be viewed on the Alliance’s blog.

The survey asked all candidates across Metro Vancouver the same six questions, and posed additional questions in five constituencies, including Vancouver.

Vancouver’s civic candidates were asked the following nine questions:

  1. COPE, NPA and Vision have all endorsed policies for artists’ studios. What these policies typically lack are measurable targets for preservation or allocation of suitable creative space; and reference to specific public policy options that can be used to either regulate the real estate market or to preserve exciting spaces. What are the available policy options — that haven’t been used yet — and how can they be used to stem the loss of studios and other creative spaces?
  2. Do you support funding an upgrade to the City of Vancouver’s Heritage Register?
  3. The post-Olympic effect on arts organizations is very similar to the struggles artists and arts organizations have had in other host cities, and in Vancouver post-Expo — a dramatic cut in public and private sector funding. Can you name one initiative that you would most like to see implemented to help Vancouver arts organizations build on the successes of the City’s creative sector?
  4. How do local governments, with increasing demands on their core service budgets, maintain or grow the cultural programs in their communities?
  5. Park Commissioner Candidates: Will you commit to maintain or increase current arts funding through park board programs?
  6. Will you commit to maintain or increase the current arts funding in your community?
  7. Will you take an active role on behalf of your community in lobbying senior levels of government to maintain or increase levels of funding for the arts, culture and heritage?
  8. Culture is an easy target when hard budget decisions must be made. How would you defend your support of funding for the arts in the face of further cutbacks
  9. It has been said that many points in the available arts and culture platforms are “objective driven” (specific projects) and don’t really speak to an overall vision of the role of culture in a civil society. In 300 words or less, outline your own vision of culture’s role in our communities and how, as an elected representative, you will support that vision.

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