Arts and culture task force presents recommendations

Dave Stewart
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Charlottetown City Hall

Establishing a full-time cultural affairs officer position with the City of Charlottetown is one of the key recommendations listed in an arts and culture strategy for the capital

It was one of 29 recommendations contained in a report released at a press conference Tuesday in Charlottetown by the mayor’s arts and culture task force.

“I’ve said many times, when it comes to (arts and culture) Charlottetown gets it. We’d like you to get it a little bit more,’’ said Henk van Leeuwen, chair of the task force.

Mayor Clifford Lee created the task force in 2011, the year Charlottetown was designated a Cultural Capital of Canada. Such a designation brought in approximately $500,000. Lee wanted the members of the task force to set out and look for ways the city could better connect with, grow and promote its arts and cultural community.

Besides employing a full-time arts and cultural officer with the city, the task force also suggests creating a permanent advisory council, an annual awards program and an artist-in-residence or open studio program, designing ways to increase the business community’s support and investment in the arts, promoting and commissioning more work by P.E.I. artists, creating ways for artists to use empty buildings, offices and outdoor spaces for rehearsal, performances or artistic creation and expanding the Heritage Incentive Program.

“I think the sooner the city can dedicate a full-time person . . . the sooner they can create a cultural advisory council then you’ve got the arts and culture always at the forefront, always on the minds of city staff, city employees and city politicians,’’ van Leeuwen said.

“We want the city to think every time it is making a policy move or a planning decision or embarking on some sort of strategic project or initiative it’s always got arts and culture in mind.’

Members of the task force include van Leeuwen, Alan Buchanan, Jessie Inman, Ghislaine O’Hanley, Murray Murphy, Rob Oakie, Julia Sauve, Harmony Wagner, Josh Weale, Natalie Williams-Calhoun and Darrin White.

The task force would like to see mixers organized that would bring together members of the arts and culture community with those in the business world.

Creating an international festival, which would appeal to those across the province and off-Island, is another idea being floated. Task force members stress this doesn’t mean chasing a one-off rock concert.

Lee said he likes the idea of creating a full-time cultural affairs officer at City Hall.

“I think that makes a lot of sense . . . (but) that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got to create a brand new position and bring somebody new into the public payroll,’’ Lee said, adding that he has asked senior management to look within the existing structure of the city government to see if someone could possibly be re-assigned.

“If we’re going to grow this industry one of the first things you need to do is have staff to do the work on a day-to-day basis.’’

Rob Oakie, also known as the executive director of Music P.E.I., said the task force tried to be as realistic as it could.

“We didn’t feel we recommended anything that was too outlandish, too expensive or too hard to accept. We tried to be very pragmatic about it,’’ Oakie said.

He said the idea of utilizing empty space downtown really appeals to him.

“We all know there are some empty spaces downtown that really don’t do the city any favours because of its look. They could be used creatively with some great attractions.’’

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Cultural Capital

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Canada, Iceland

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Recent comments

  • SAP
    January 17, 2013 - 10:57

    You can't buy culture, it happens of it's own accord. And the last thing we need are more committees, boards, task forces, or whatever you want to call them, to hand out tax dollars to people who may otherwise not be able to earn a living.

    • jotto
      January 20, 2013 - 19:52

      I applaud your mayor's forward thinking. He recognizes what many other world class cities do -cultural events, spaces and programs are the new economy of sorts. It is about marrying culture, location, individual and community identity to bring great benefit to a city's economic, social and cultural well being. there is a great deal of successful research out there on this subject. please don't rush to reject what the mayor is doing. Charlottetown is proving to be more progressive than many other places and will be rewarded for it. This is not throwing money or anything away, it is the kind of investment which other international cities are increasingly turning to and reaping the benefits from. There is a direct link between what he is doing and future financial and social rewards and this is proven in the examples of several other cities. Support him, this is going to be good for Charlottetown. now if only we had a Mayor with such vision in Toronto! (his idea of a thriving, cultural centre is a mall and a ferris wheel) Go Charlottetown!

  • the haves want more but not for have nots
    January 17, 2013 - 09:23

    Here is a great example of a class system in PEI with the haves with entitlement and the have nots who are discarded as losers. A task force with no experience generating anything but expenses wants first to hire more like minded freeloaders. PEI is culturally deprived by the over abundant "ambassadors" of culture. Drop PEI Culture and Music PEI as soon as possible.

  • alf
    January 17, 2013 - 08:17

    Where is the candidate for MAYOR in the next election that will run on a ticket of frugality,sensibility and accountability to the people of Charlottetown??? It is time we get somebody that respect the taxpayers and don't feed half the city at lunches and suppers under the retence of advising the City, -one that has imagination and don't see adding to the herd of 'servants' at City Hall as an accomplishment.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    January 17, 2013 - 08:07

    Clifford Lee is out of his mind. A task force should never have been implemented. I agree with JRSPLACE. This is a waste of money. People are homeless, hungry, and many are without hope. Do you not see how absurd your priority list is? Do you not see how out of touch government is with the people and their needs.

  • nina
    January 17, 2013 - 08:01

    For a venture that is supposed to bring business and the arts together I see precious few business people on that commitee. I further think that the Chamber and the Arts Council should be the instigators of this, not the City and the taxpayers, Lord knows we are ALREADY funding the Arts Council through the Province, for what ever reason, one wonders, - however let the chamber employee an arts person, and leave the taxpayers alone. If the Mayor is bored, maybe it is time he got out of politics.

  • ruben
    January 17, 2013 - 07:54

    For crying out load, Clifford, have a heart, we are already overburdened with taxes and now you want to add an other soul for us to feed. If you are having a 'profit' , - money yto play with, give us back our tax money, lower the tax rate, whatever, some of us can barely hand on to our properties, and with the HST robbing us, - we are going to have an even harder time, -- precious little time to concern ourselves with art and such, - -- and an on going committee to pay a meeting fees for and feed lunch or supper, - time to curtail all this foolishness, - it is bad enough as it is. Have some mercy here.

  • kevin
    January 17, 2013 - 07:47

    the Mayor must be counting on an HST windfall when proposing to add yet an other body for the taxpayers to feed. Or will we be paying mor proterty tax? I am sick of being taxed to death to feed all these hairbrained schemes, that will not give me anything in return. Message to the artist: -- go make and a living and leave the taxpayers alone.---- Message to Clifford: leave the taxpayers alone or they may get fed up with you before the next election.

  • mac
    January 17, 2013 - 07:41

    could we just get the services we need and stop building up City Hall, the next thing we will need to build on to City Hall to house all these bodies, - clear the snow and pave the streets and make sure we have water, Clifford, and never mind trying to mix your self up with 'culture', -- give the City taxpayers services and a tax break, and otherwise leave us alone

  • ALFREDD
    January 17, 2013 - 07:28

    IF THE CITY COUNCIL AND THE MAYOR WOULD CONFINE THEMSELVES TO THE MANDATE TO WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN ELECTED, IT WOULD BE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED, -- THE EMPIRE BUILDING HAS TO BE PAID FOR, AND I AM ABOUT AT MY LIMIT TO BE ABLE TO PAY MY PROPER TY TAX, PLEASE DON'T ASK FOR ANY MORE, OR I WILL HAVE TO STARVE---- FOR ONCE THINK OF ALL US PEOPLE THAT ARE JUST GETTING BY, --- DON'T SADDLE US WITH MORE - GIVE SOME TAXES BACK IF YOU HAVE CHARGED TOO MUCH - I USED TO THINK CLIFFORD HAD A HEART, - BUT NOW I WONDER WHAT HAS GOTTEN INTO HIM.

  • JRSPLCE has a point
    January 17, 2013 - 07:11

    I have to think that in this city with a startling number of other issues affecting all families including water, decent housing, slums, addictions, poverty etc etc that this would not a a place to spend money. The province and the federal government already spends a lot on this sector as does the City with things like very significant tax breaks. Move on ....maybe the City could buy a painting or other piece of art once in awhile.

  • hippy dreamers want to hire more flakes
    January 16, 2013 - 22:25

    This task force made up of Henk van Leeuwen himself the CEO of Culture PEI and Rob Oakie Executive Director of Music PEI, and the first priority is hire another self important parasite to tap into the public funds? What a bunch of dreamers. These operations cannot be funded any longer. Sell the whole crew off to 2014 party planning.

  • SAP
    January 16, 2013 - 21:24

    Yes, seems to be a lot of empty space

  • jrsplace
    January 16, 2013 - 21:15

    Waste of money! People unable to heat their homes and water pollution every summer and the city wastes money on a project for a bunch of hippies who couldn't get hired at McDonald's!