When parliament reconvenes on January 26, MPs will have to contend with a new national arts advocacy group made up of four national arts-service organizations—three of which are headed by Vancouverites. Jim Smith, president of the Canadian Dance Assembly and producer of local cultural-management agency Eponymous; Jim Wright, chair of Opera.ca and president of Vancouver Opera; and Jeff Alexander, chair of Orchestras Canada and general manager of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, have teamed up with Professional Association of Canadian Theatres president Nancy Webster to form Canada’s Performing Arts Alliance.
The 70-member-strong group had its first meeting December 7 in Ottawa. It had originally scheduled 72 meetings with MPs to take place over the following two days, but the prorogation of parliament put most of those on hold. Smith, Wright, Alexander, and Webster did, however, meet with Heritage Minister James Moore, MP for Port Moody–Westwood–Port Coquitlam.
“It was a very engaging meeting,” said Smith. “Probably what’s most telling is that he was prepared to meet with us all and acknowledge this coalition as a viable place to sort of get information about the arts.”
Smith said the group stressed the importance of the arts to stabilizing the national economy.
“The fact that there’s a stimulus package being developed and a budget’s being pulled together, we were trying to speak in a timely fashion.”¦We hung on to that and presented ourselves saying, ”˜If this is what the government of Canada is looking to do, then”¦there’s probably a role for the arts sector to play.’”