Research, Advocacy, Policy
ArtsVote Open Letter to Calgary Center South MP - Joan Crockatt
Dear Mrs. Crockatt,
On behalf of ArtsVote Calgary, we congratulate you on your election as the MP for Calgary Centre. ArtsVote Calgary is a non-partisan organization advocating for the arts at all three levels of government. During the recent Calgary Centre by-election, ArtsVote sent out a short five question survey to all candidates in order to better understand how the arts fit in their vision for Calgary. The responses to the survey can be viewed in full on our website, www.artsvotecalgary.ca. We thought it would be helpful if we provided you with an overview of some of the issues discussed because the answers to this survey represent the thoughts and opinions of all the voters in your riding. Hopefully their ideas will help inform any changes in public policy regarding the arts that you might bring forth, and enable you to speak confidently with your colleagues about issues pertaining to the arts.
Typically, ArtsVote uses a survey to understand the various candidates’ positions on the arts, and to help inform them about current concerns affecting this sector. In addition, the posted results of these surveys act to stimulate discussion in the public at large. The ensuing conversation sparked by the recent by-election survey focused on three main areas of discussion: the Canada Council for The Arts, the CBC and arts related infrastructure and lastly, the Canadian Cultural Capital program. These issues seemed to strike a chord with many constituents and candidates.
Firstly, we asked candidates whether they support maintaining or increasing funding for The Canada Council for the Arts, an organization that provides a wide range of grants, supporting over 20,000 artists and arts organizations annually. Responses from all supported maintaining funding to the Council. It was also suggested that at a federal level the implementation of tax averaging for artists and cultural workers would be extremely beneficial.
Secondly, the issue of the CBC arose in conversation. As you know there was a specific forum dedicated to the topic. The promotion of Canada’s arts and culture through the production and broadcast of Canadian content on Canadian television and in Canadian theatres will strongly support Canada’s performing arts, cultural institutions, and individual creators. Of equal importance is the support of urban infrastructure that impacts the arts. One candidate describes this as “When I talk about sustainable urban infrastructure, I don’t just mean trains and buses and rec centers — I also mean performance and studio spaces, museums and galleries. I’d also like to see the federal government provide incentives to develop secondary suites and other flexible, inexpensive live and work spaces for workers in the creative industries — a city can’t build a vibrant arts scene, after all, if it doesn’t have enough places where artists can afford to live and work.” ArtsVote intends to focus on these issues during the upcoming civic election as this is so critical to a thriving arts community.
Lastly, Calgary was named one of the 2012 Cultural Capitals of Canada this year. However, the federal government also announced that it was cancelling the annual celebration. When asked if this program should be re-instated, all candidates who responded unanimously said yes, and of course, everyone involved in Calgary 2012 would say the same thing. For them, and a large segment of the Calgary population, arts are not seen as a luxury, but as an intrinsic part of the fabric of Canadian cities.
ArtsVote is active in many ways, which is why we are also posting this open letter as a blog to invite dialogue both from yourself and the public. We ask you and all readers to respond so that together we may develop effective public policies to support our arts sector. In sum, we hope that this limited overview will help inform your current stance on the arts in Calgary and Calgary Centre South in particular and we would welcome any opportunity to discuss the state of the arts with you. We look forward to working together in the future to ensure that Calgary's strong cultural voice is heard at the federal level.
Thank you for your time and work on behalf of Calgarians in Ottawa.
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ArtsVote Calgary is a group of voluntary arts supporters in Calgary, Alberta, Canada who advocate for the Arts to be recognized as an integral part of daily living.
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