PC Alberta Leadership Candidates
Saturday, September 17 marks the beginning of the leadership convention for Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives. Arts advocates in Calgary (through Calgary ArtsVote) and Edmonton (through PACE’s Arts Advocacy Steering Committee) have met with four of the six conservative leadership candidates. Gary Mar was the first candidate to sit down with us and in recent days we had conversations with three more candidates. Here is a synopsis of what those candidates, in alphabetical order based on surname, had to say on the arts:
- Doug commented on the work Save Our Fine Arts (SOFA) has been doing and said he sees arts and culture as separate entities.
- Doug sees education, healthcare, jobs/economy, and artistic endeavours as the four pillars of community development. Without that fourth pillar, he contends communities devolve into nothing more than work camps.
- He said we need to develop the full range of talent we have available to develop. We need more arts teachers to incorporate fine arts into education programs.
- Doug said the $11 million AFA lost would be regarded as simply a rounding error in the health ministry.
- He talked about Saskatchewan pairing arts groups with businesses so the organizations eventually becomes self-funded. People need to understand that artistic creativity drives industry.
- Doug said if the government funds and promotes the arts, that will help attract businesses to follow suit.
- Gary said he always has time to meet with arts professionals.
- Gary pointed out he had been minister responsible for culture and so can speak about the arts from an intrinsic perspective as well as economic.
- He talked about the benefit of fine arts in the schools. Arts and culture can teach empathy, give us pride as Albertans.
- Gary noted that every dollar invested in the arts, yields $8 to $10 back. He looks at investment in the arts not as a cost, but as a value.
- Gary said his commitment is not to permit any more cuts to the arts and to meet with arts groups to see what they need to make arts and culture flourish in Alberta.
- He considers supporting arts and culture as higher priority than sports, for instance, and talked about how the creative class can drive a knowledge-based economy.
- Gary remarked that the amount going to the arts isn’t even the equivalent to a rounding error in health care. He vowed he would not stop support for the AFA.
- Rick expressed concern about gaming proceeds going into government’s general revenue instead of being treated separately, saying this could mean the end of arts and culture funding.
- Rick proposed to add to add another 100 million dollars on top of the 148 million now coming from gaming as funding for art, culture and community management.
- He contended the government should use people that understand user groups to decide where the money should go, giving the example of how the Wild Rose Foundation worked.
- Rick said there is a business model component to his plan. In terms of where we want Alberta to be in the next 10 years, we have to offer arts, culture, recreation and sport.
- Rick proposed putting a branch campus of Alberta College of Art and Design up north. His northern policy also includes a tourism strategy to address the needs of aboriginal peoples, using their culture to attract visitors.
- He said he’d minimize duplication of boards and foundations supporting the arts.
- Rick said the private sector needs to be involved. He sees this as an economic strategy and believed that a signal from government would spur it, saying lottery dollars could cover what private sector doesn’t support.
- Alison said she supports the ArtsVote mandate of education, celebration and advocacy.
- She said she believes in a holistic and integrated approach to developing arts and culture in the province - an appreciation for arts and culture should be built into the fabric of our society.
- Alison indicated she would support a dedicated ministry if that was the best solution to the current challenges facing the arts in Alberta.
- Alison stated she strongly believes arts appreciation starts at a young age and getting funding for artists to work in schools is essential.
- As Premier Alison promised to bring attention to the importance of arts funding, saying we cannot and should not assume businesses and individuals will fund the arts.
- She said she would be looking to partner with groups who demonstrate that they have the support of stakeholders and that they have a plan.
- She explained that she believes that arts and culture leaders from our province are internationally recognized and could play a huge part in telling our story and raising the profile of the values that Albertans espouse and hold dear.
As we mentioned earlier, members of the Provincial Advocacy Steering Committee have been meeting with as many leadership candidates as we can to discuss their arts policies and issues affecting professional artists in Alberta.
We have met with all the candidates running for leadership of the Alberta Party and we’re making good headway with Progressive Conservative candidates, but today we want to talk to you about the Alberta Liberal candidates we have met.
Alberta Liberal Leadership Candidates
Alberta’s Liberals are taking a new approach to their Leadership Convention. They have opened it up to all Albertans whether or not they are members of the party. Albertans had until September 5 to register to vote. For those of you who are registered, here is some useful information from three of the five candidates regarding their stand on the arts in our province:
- Laurie characterized the provincial government’s arts funding as “push-me-pull-me”.
- She expressed concern about the mass of “baby boomer” professional artists approaching retirement who are unable to provide for their senior years, many being self-employed and ineligible for certain subsidies.
- Laurie said she believes provincial arts funding should be doubled immediately and tripled over a fixed time period.
- As premier, she would dispense with the AFA and introduce programs to benefit artists directly. For instance, communities could apply for an artist to work in their community on a project and that artist would draw a salary for a period of time. She advised this would help build a knowledge-based economy and would be stronger than the artist-in-residence program now in place.
- Laurie also considered micro loans for professional artists.
- She’s comfortable having cultural industries separate but equal.
- Laurie also proposed development funding for new artistic initiatives.
- Hugh decried the fact that last year’s culture budget had $1 million left unexpended.
- Hugh talked about how Norway is using oil revenues to support the arts and said this should be done in Canada.
- He said he supports a dedicated ministry and stand-alone funding for the arts.
- He felt the provincial government is not sincere about its commitment to the arts.
- Hugh commented that Laurie has been a good advocate for the arts and said that the Liberals are the only party that do this.
- Raj said the arts are the heart and soul of the community. He sees the arts as a major part of the economy, adding diversity to it.
- He favoured providing incentives to certain industries to get them on their own feet. He suggested we become the Bollywood of the west saying the spillover would benefit all of society.
- Raj said the AFA needs to listen to professional artists because artists know what needs to be done. If he were premier, he would ask what the problems and solutions are.
- He’s worried fine arts in the schools will be affected by firing teachers. He said there are international competitive issues to also consider. Raj said we should strive to have something like Emily Carr University.
- Raj said the government is spending just as much money monitoring accountability programs as they are funding those they ask to be accountable. He sees the arts as small- and medium-sized businesses and said the arts need stable, predictable funding.
- He said nations are investing in Edmonton, but using the proceeds to invest in their own arts, not ours. Raj said that if government won’t come to the table, neither will industry.
Bruce Payne and Bill Harvey have also declared their candidacies. Our committee has made repeated attempts to set up meetings with these two men and are waiting to hear back from them, but time is slipping away. The 2011 Alberta Liberal Leadership Convention is taking place on Saturday, September 10. Go to http://www.albertaliberal.com for more information on candidates and the convention.