To these questions posed by Alliance for Arts and Culture to candidates in the upcoming Vancouver Civic Elections on November 19, 2011, I support and back City Council Candidate Sean Bickerton’s responses:

The post-Olympic effect on arts organizations is very similar to the struggles artists and arts organizations have had in other host cities, and in Vancouver post-Expo — a dramatic cut in public and private sector funding. Can you name one initiative that you would most like to see implemented to help Vancouver arts organizations build on the successes of the City’s creative sector?

Bickerton: 100 Mile Cultural Diet: a program involving Province, Metro, City and Board of Trade dedicated to increasing perception of value of locally produced culture through coordinated marketing initiative & distribution infrastructure, just as was done for BC wine. Cd be integrated with Buy Local campaign I’d like to implement at city.

How do local governments, with increasing demands on their core service budgets, maintain or grow the cultural programs in their communities?

Bickerton: We have proposed creating two city arts endowment funds, one to supplement existing grant programs, and the second an endowment to provide seed money for badly needed arts infrastructure & facilities. The endowments would be financed through community amenity contributions from new housing development.

Will you commit to maintain or increase the current arts funding in your community?

Bickerton: Increase. By channeling a small percentage of community amenity contributions to the two arts endowments we’ve proposed, we will be able to increase funding beyond existing granting programs.

Will you take an active role on behalf of your community in lobbying senior levels of government to maintain or increase levels of funding for the arts, culture and heritage?

Bickerton: Increase. I have been a very vocal and passionate advocate for the arts to the provincial government by co-founding Vancouver Not Vegas! coalition, writing about the drastic effects of their cuts & erratic programme changes for Vancouver Observer, challenging ministers in public meetings and by signing petitions and writing letters.

Culture is an easy target when hard budget decisions must be made. How would you defend your support of funding for the arts in the face of further cutbacks?

Bickerton: Central to our sense of identity, of self and of place, the arts is also one of the ten largest employment sectors in Vancouver. The arts are also a key driver of our increasingly-information-based economy; one of the key animators of our city; and the underlying basis for our high quality of life. Moreover, a diverse, tolerant society with a vibrant and eclectic arts scene is necessary to attract the kind of brilliant minds we need to compete with the rest of the world.

It has been said that many points in the available arts and culture platforms are “objective driven” (specific projects) and don’t really speak to an overall vision of the role of culture in a civil society. In 300 words or less, outline your own vision of culture’s role in our communities and how, as an elected representative, you will support that vision

Bickerton: Culture is what makes us human. It has been defined as a society’s storehouse of complex ways of thinking and seeing the world that are passed on in order to help ensure the survival of the next generation in a constantly changing world. At a time of rapid social, technological and environmental changes, it is our creativity and ingenuity we need in order to innovate quickly enough to survive resulting dislocations. More locally, arts culture and heritage animate our city, enhancing our lives continuously and creating vibrant life in our downtown at night. The arts inspire us, put us in touch with our higher selves, cause us to rethink our assumptions, make us laugh, cry, remember and they teach us object lessons like the morality plays of long- ago. On a more basic level, the arts serve as pathways for children to discover new worlds, gain skills and confidence, learn discipline and the rewards of collaboration, channeling youthful high spirits into constructive pursuits. For all of these reasons and many more, culture’s role is central to our city’s identity, vitality, economy, and our way of life.

Please provide links to coverage and information of events and initiatives where you have been involved in arts, culture and heritage.

Bickerton: city

VP & Futures Committee of Vancouver Recital Society 2009-2010

Board Member & Chair of Strategic Task Force for Langley Community Music School

Advisory Board for Borealis Quartet & helped create annual fundraiser.