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.