I was pleased to respond to the Greater Halifax Arts Coalition Survey for 2016 HRM Council Candidates, and have provided the full text of my responses to this survey below.
Do you support the creation of an arms length arts and culture granting body within 3 years?
In order to foster innovative artistic production and presentation, it is important that funding be allocated by a group of peers and experts that can adequately judge the quality and merit of proposals. City council should entrust an independent body to determine the quality of artistic works within the broader currents of local artistic production with autonomy and free of any political interference. This principle is already in place at the federal and provincial levels, and needs to be implemented at the municipal level as well.
Do you support raising the Arts and Culture funding budget, to meet the national average per capital municipal funding, from the current $360,000 to $768,000 by the end of 2018?
As the largest municipality in Atlantic Canada, Halifax should be investing in Arts and Culture at the national per capita average level. The HRM plays a role as a hub for artistic production and also in the shaping and dissemination of Atlantic culture. As it is through the arts that common notions are challenged and cultural identities are formed, a thriving cultural scene is a sign of a healthy and dynamic city.
However, funding is only half the recipe to a thriving cultural sector. Reducing the cost of artistic production is also important. By doing an inventory of available infrastructure, we can support the allocation of space for artistic creation and presentation. Through tax incentives to artist-run centres and cooperatives, we can increase the cumulative impact these organizations have within the cultural sector by providing affordable space and resources to both artists and consumers of art. Also, it’s no secret that most artists scrape by to make a living. By providing affordable housing, free transit, and fair wages, our city can relieve many of the financial pressures that currently make it very difficult to sustain a career in the arts.
Do you support the recommendation that juries for these grants comprise professional artists who would be paid a nominal fee for this service?
It is only fair to compensate professionals for their time and expertise in the service of a public good. Too often, artists are asked to offer their labour for free, which undermines the sustainability and growth of a career in the arts. Also, without professional expertise, the purpose of having an arm’s length granting body would be defeated.
Do you support the creation of a program for individual artists to access funding?
Support for a individual artists is essential to the development of a career in the arts. It allows for sustained development in an artist’s practice between and beyond specific project phases, especially for artists who work independently of organizations or companies.
However, added support is also needed for artist-run centres and cooperatives who have an exponential impact on numerous individual artists and companies, particularly emerging ones, by providing affordable space and resources to many in the community.
Describe a cultural experience or piece of art that has had a lasting impact on you. How and why did it affect you?
I was involved with the Robert Street Social Centre, Inkstorm Screen-Printing Studio, and served on the board of the Anchor Archive Zine Collective. Being involved in a DIY, independent, and artist-run collective showed me the importance of affordable and accessible creative spaces. Most creative spaces in our city are either expensive to use or not accessible to people who are not university students. I think that art is an important cultural experience that should be available to everyone regardless of income or education level. My involvement with these independent and artist-run collectives taught me the important of accessible, artist-run spaces that are rooted in neighborhoods and communities.
Do you know any professional artists living in your district?
Yes, many! Susan Leblanc, Sébastien Labelle, Ursula Johnson and T Thomason to name a few. Dartmouth Centre has become an attractive place for artists to live in by being affordable in comparison to the peninsula, while remaining close by. We need to ensure that Dartmouth Centre’s growing popularity does not result in the displacement of the very people who have come to contribute to our community and others who can’t afford rising rental and property costs. Rent control, inclusionary zoning, and free transit are ways that we can ensure that our neighbourhoods remain affordable.
How would you encourage and nurture the growth of arts and culture in your district?
Certainly, all of the proposals offered by the Greater Halifax Arts Coalition would go a long way to grow arts and culture in Dartmouth Centre and beyond. Added to that, I would increase support to artist-run centres and cooperatives, offer free transit and provide additional affordable housing to ensure the overall affordability of living and working as an artist. Finally, I would offer free recreation programs which would increase appreciation for the arts and accessibility to arts programs for kids.
The full Greater Halifax Arts Coalition Survey for 2016 HRM Candidates can be found at the following link: