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Airdrie Arts & Culture

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Airdrie Arts and Culture

On July 09th, candidates were asked the following questions (in bold) related to Culture on the Airdrie Election 2017 – Discussion Group Facebook page.  I think it’s important to share my responses.

Airdrie City Council adopted its cultural policy , in October of 2015. The cultural policy includes several guiding principles that are “meant to serve together as a guide to practice and decision-making….” These guiding principles emphasize the importance of culture to our City. The City of Airdrie is currently working with a consultant to develop a Cultural Master Plan.  This plan is intended to be a comprehensive strategic plan that provides a multi- year strategy to guide the future development of Arts, Culture and Heritage Planning in Airdrie. The Cultural Master Plan will bring to life the Cultural Policy endorsed by City Council by presenting a measurable and achievable vision and short, medium and long-term outcomes based on extensive research and community consultation.  I do believe we, as a City, need to encourage and provide for a range of opportunities for all residents, including those related to arts and culture.

There are a couple things I would like to ask candidates, potential candidates and public at large or get opinions as to their position on. I will start with ARTS & CULTURE.

  1. The City of Airdrie will be completing a full year Municipal Cultural Planning process to improve arts, culture and heritage in our city this fall. The goal (as I understand it) is to identify ways to grow and strengthen Airdrie’s cultural identity, strengthen its creative sector and provide a vision for future growth of its cultural assets. (Public Art, Cultural facilities; ex art galleries, artist run centres, performing arts spaces, etc. along with festivals and cultural events, ethno-cultural events/groups, etc.). With Calgary creeping ever closer we are in a critical phase of our growth in solidifying our identity as a unique, inclusive, creative city. So, my questions are:

A. What could we do to make Airdrie a more culturally inclusive, dymanic creative city with a strong community identity?

One of the reasons I would like to be your next Mayor of Airdrie, is because I believe Airdrie needs to create a vision for the future and an identity – a brand – that readily identifies what makes Airdrie unique and what our residents want Airdrie to become. The best way to accomplish this is through community engagement – we need to engage residents to create a community vision – a vision by the community and for the community. From that, we need to develop a strategic plan to help us achieve our vision and to create or strengthen our identity. We can then focus our efforts and funding to ensure our community is a place where people of all ages, stages and cultures want to live now and in the future.

To ensure Airdrie is culturally inclusive and dynamic we need to ensure that we follow through on our Cultural Master Plan – we need to plan it then we need to do it! We need to consider our cultural policy in all aspects of planning and development.

B. What do you see as the role of the city(your role as a councillor if you are elected) in capturing this and ensuring we grow as a creative and culturally rich community?

My role as Mayor would be to lead the City in following through on its Cultural (and other) Plans; to ensure that we act and move forward on the community feedback and the plan that was developed from it.  We need to work towards achieving the strategic outcomes laid out in the Cultural Master Plan, and that means providing the necessary resources to achieve those outcomes.   As Mayor, I need to ensure that the policies and plans related to culture are supported with staff, funding and infrastructure.  Far too often our current plans and policies are “sitting on shelves” and not being acted upon.  The cultural policy, and soon the plan will be in place, now is the time to act.  In addition, it is important that arts and culture be given consideration, in much the same way that sustainability is, in all City of Airdrie planning processes and documents and in Council’s decision-making.  I do believe that with these cultural policies and guiding principles in mind, we have the opportunity to develop and create innovative and creative gathering places, spaces and events that will serve to grow Airdrie’s culture.

C. City Council recognizes (through its cultural and public art policies) that the arts and culture are vital to the economic and social well being of a city. As well, it recognizes the significant impact that the arts and artists have in creating vitality, developing the aesthetic and quality of life in the city. What do you see as priorities in ensuring that Airdrie attracts, retains and develops artists and arts industry in the city through it policies and infrastructure? As well, how do we ensure that residents have access to a wide range of arts programs and opportunities in our city?

To attract, retain, and develop artists and arts industry, we need to consider many of the same things that we do to attract a variety of demographics and industry to our city: a variety of housing choices, a diversity of educational opportunities (wouldn’t it be amazing if we had satellite campuses here – i.e. ACAD, MRU, SAIT), a mix of spaces for retail, rental, (I love the idea of a Maker Space), a commitment to cultivating entrepreneurship, and a variety of community gathering places – not just municipally owned, and events that appeal to all ages and stages.  We need to follow through on our cultural policy to build a strong cultural community – where culture is woven into the fabric of the community.

We ensure that residents have access to a wide range of arts and culture programs and opportunities in our City by keeping arts and culture in the top of our minds when planning and budgeting (spending per capita) for our community. We need to truly believe, and act on, the notion that arts and culture significantly contribute to the quality of life, the economic diversification and the desirability of our community. We create sustainable funding for arts and culture, we build multipurpose facilities that include spaces for arts and culture, we offer programs and services in arts and culture, we create an inventory of arts and culture places and spaces, we market and promote (i.e. tourism) arts and culture, we support the non-profit groups that positively impact arts and culture (i.e. education/training in governance, developing partnerships). We act on the policy and plans that we have (or will soon have).