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Few council candidates promise more arts funding

Everybody loves the arts but few of the mayoral candidates at Monday’s arts forum could offer any hope for a windfall in arts, culture and heritage funding over the next few years.

The one excpetion was mayoral candidate Michel Rabu who wants to build a new arts centre with the money that will come free after the Community Centre is paid off in 2013.

Rabu offered his new arts centre to a packed Rivercity Players studio on Monday.

“I want to see a new theatre-arts centre for Campbell River,” Rabu said. “The Tidemark (Theatre) has seen its day.”

Rabu has a plan to pay for this new performing arts centre. In December, 2012, the city will no longer have to pay for the Community Centre which will free up about $560,000 per year that could be put towards a replacement for the aging Tidemark Theatre. This would preclude the need to continue throwing money at propping up the Tidemark.

Rabu did say, however, that fiscal restraint has to be shown, particularly in the first term and that the arts should continue to be funded through the grant-in-aid process currently used.

Fellow mayoral candidate Ziggy Stewart questioned whether there would indeed be that much money freed up after the Community Centre was paid off and, if so, wondered whether a future council might decide there’s a greater need for that money somewhere else.

Rabu’s proposal was the only statement in favour of finding more money for arts, culture and heritage funding.

Most of the responses from mayoral and councillor candidates focused on challenging times and difficult budget choices to be made.

“I will be very blunt with you,” Stewart said. “Over the next coming years, it is going to be really difficult to continue or to expand where we go with the funding currently available.”

Stewart suggested we will need to be more innovative and look to partnerships as a way to finding more funding for arts and culture.

Roy Grant, like Stewart a sitting councillor seeking the mayor’s chair, said that the city has contributed over $1.5 million to arts, culture and heritage over the last three years and will contribute about another $500,000 this year.

Grant said he will maintain support for arts, culture and heritage.

“I will continue to support arts, culture and heritage,” he said.

Grant said that arts, culture and heritage imbue a sense of community pride and spirit and that attracts economic development.

“I call that cultural economic development,” he said.

Candidate Walter Jakeway expects that arts, culture and heritage groups would continue to get the same level of funding they currently receive. Jakeway would implement proper fiscal management at City Hall and once restored “our financial prosperity and stability will return.”

Jakeway predicted that would occur after 2012 and from 2013 on, the city would be able to give arts, culture and heritage groups a three-year commitment.

Monday’s meeting was attended by approximately 100 people – many of them involved in arts, culture and heritage in the community – at the Rivercity Players studio.

The four mayoral and 16 of the 17 council candidates were given questions to answer as well as an opportunity to provide an opening address.

Council candidate Jason Price was unable to attend because his wife had gone into labour just prior to the all candidates forum.

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