New Vision for Vancouver arts community

Newly re-elected Vision Vancouver counsellor Heather Deal told the Straight the party will be discussing staffing changes in the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, but would not elaborate, except to confirm that members of the arts community have expressed discontent with the current state of the department.

She said Vision Vancouver is committed to creating an independent arts council for the city, but added: "It won’t be something that happens immediately. It will be something that takes some time to get to a conclusion of what the best model is and moving to that model."

Deal reiterated Vision Vancouver’s commitment to the arts, and said it would not take a back seat to other issues. "It’s a commitment that’s not separate from dealing with homelessness and drug addiction and mental health," she said.

An external auditor will be going over the books at city hall, she said, "and they’ll be looking in particular at the arts area to see that there are ways that we can ensure more funding goes directly to artists."

The City of Vancouver’s 2008 budget devoted $7 million, or 0.8 percent, to civic theatres, and $15.7 million, or 1.8 percent, to civic grants, but Deal said she could not promise any additional funds going to artists.

"My goal will be to get as much of the money that we spend on arts in the city into the hands of artists as possible," she said. "That may or may not mean more this year or next year. It may mean re-aligning how we’re spending money currently."

On November 15, outgoing NPA councillor Elizabeth Ball said her defeat was "a great loss to the city....It’s not enough to just be a councillor. To not have a professional artist on council is very sad."

Among her accomplishments, Ball, founder of the Carousel Theatre Company, cited the city’s $1.5 million cultural tourism strategy and cultural facilities priorities plan.

- with files from Pieta Woolley