Members of the Campbell River Arts Council, Museum at Campbell River, Tidemark Theatre and Campbell River Art Gallery meet in the museum’s boardroom this week to plan for the all-candidates forum they are hosting Sept. 22 at Rivercity Stage. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

First municipal election forum scheduled for Sept. 22

Rivercity Stage will play host to an all-candidates forum on the state of arts and culture

The first all-candidates meeting of the upcoming municipal election cycle has been announced.

A group made up of representatives from the Tidemark Theatre, Campbell River Arts Council, Museum at Campbell River and Campbell River Art Gallery will host and moderate the free public event, which will take place Sept. 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Rivercity Stage and be focused on the state of arts, culture and heritage in the city.

Campbell River has a large and vibrant arts community, the partnership says, and that community wants to hear how the candidates feel arts and culture initiatives fit into their vision for the city’s future – as well as how they intend to help grow the sector.

It’s also an opportunity for members engaged in the arts community to make their priorities known to those running for seats on council.

“This is, quite simply, an opportunity to listen and to learn,” says Ken Blackburn, executive director of the arts council. “I would hope that the spirit of the evening will be that the candidates have an opportunity not only to outline their vision, but also to listen to the discussion and the concerns of the community.”

“I think this is a great opportunity for everybody to be heard,” agrees Vicky Chainey-Gagnon, executive director of the art gallery. “There will be tremendous active listening happening in that room that night.”

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Jim Kent, managing director of the Tidemark Theatre, says the forum is not only an opportunity for the voting public to learn about the candidates’ stance on how the arts fit into the community and for the candidates to listen to the arts sector’s concerns, but also for the arts organizations themselves to get a sense of how they can best fit into the next council’s plans moving forward.

“We rely on the city for support,” Kent says. “Honestly, we wouldn’t be able to exist without it. So in this particular forum, we’ll be able to see what the candidates’ vision is and see how we can support that vision and be able to better strategically plan for that.”

The exact structure of the evening has yet to be determined – if there are 20-plus candidates, the night will look a lot different than if there are only a dozen, Blackburn says – but it will absolutely not be simply a platform for the candidates to make their pitch about how they feel about the arts.

“We’ll meet again once the candidates are all declared to go through the format,” Blackburn says, “but one thing we’ve decided is a guiding principle is that we want to encourage audience participation. It won’t just be questions coming from the arts organizations and them responding, but instead we’ll build into the evening a chance for the audience to ask questions or for clarifications. Traditionally, the audience is tagged onto the end of a forum like this, but we’re going to be inclusive of them throughout the night.”

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It’s also an opportunity for the major arts and culture organizations to come together, yet again, for a worthy cause, according to Sandra Parrish, executive director of the Museum at Campbell River.

“All of our organizations work together on various projects here and there, but this is an opportunity for us to show the community that we’re working as a pretty cohesive team to serve the community,” Parrish says.

There has been an event page set up on Facebook where updates on the event will be posted, and the group is working on developing a plan to possibly live-stream the event for those who can’t make it to the theatre that night.

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