The arts matter, said the 12 Vernon council candidates gathered at the Vernon Public Art Gallery for Thursday’s election forum on the current state and future of arts and culture in the city.
Incumbent councillor Juliette Cunningham said she would like to see ideas from the new cultural plan devised by the Regional District of the North Okanagan implemented and see the new art gallery facility become a reality.
“In this term, I hope to push for a referendum. We’ve worked hard on finally getting a buy-in from around the table to get a (cultural) master plan. We now need to move forward with its implementation.”
Janet Green said it’s the politicians turn to sell the cultural plan to the rest of the community.
“Without that piece, the referendum won’t pass.”
Brian Quiring said he is committed to getting the current gallery space from under the Vernon parkade and supports a single-use facility for a new gallery.
“We do not want to deal with a leaking roof and cars above us,” he said. “A single-purpose building would meet the needs of where we are at economically and realistically.”
Jack Gilroy reminded those attending the forum that in 2005, the city tried to get a new cultural facility in Vernon, but failed.
“In 2009, we purchased the property to go towards the arts and raised money for it. We have the property, I don’t want to go and change things.”
“By investing in arts and culture, you get the dividends in the economy. It works hand-in-hand,” said Mark Olsen, adding he wants to see economic diversity that at the same time protects the environment.
Shawn Lee said there needs to be people on council who are involved in all aspects of the economy, including the arts, and that he would be committed to making the master culture plan work.
“I feel the arts have been pushed aside,” he said.
Kari Gares said she sees the arts as one way for the younger generation to get involved with the community, and that per capita funding for the arts is one way to get the ball rolling.
Catherine Lord pointed out how in the last three years council has been dealing with infrastructure issues and its partners at the regional district.
“We have sports, now it’s our turn,” she said referring to the arts.
Scott Anderson said moving forward with arts and culture has to be part of the economy.
“It’s the truth that sometimes other services have precedence over arts and culture. The key to making sure arts and culture is properly supported is to have a strong economy.”
Dalvir Nahal said she has lost friends with a talent and passion for arts and culture to the coast and would like council and the mayor to remedy that.
“If the city is willing to put in a portion (towards the arts), then the passion of the community will help share the burden of the cost.”
“It would put Vernon on the map,” said Art Gourley. “We need to give investors the idea to move here and build other things that are important.”
James Todd said the city would benefit from having a museum and art gallery facility, with different wings to hold artifacts and host major exhibitions. “Fifty years from now, we can look up or down at it…and see a beautiful building full of art.”
Bob Spiers and Colt Wilson were not present.