Question 2 – artists
For the past 40 years, the City of Vancouver has held a very important place in terms of the development of the artist-run centre movement and is recognized as such both within Canada and internationally. This movement has been crucial to the cultivation of emerging artists’ careers and diverse and innovative practices in the arts. As noted in the city’s 2013 Culture Plan Strategic Directions, Vancouver has the highest number of artists per capita in Canada and, according to recent statistics, 48% of these artists have higher education degrees, yet their median yearly earnings are evaluated at $17,400. (Mapping Artists and Cultural Workers in Canada’s Large Cities, Hill Strategies, February 2010. Table 1, p. 7.)
What will your party do to ensure that the City of Vancouver continues to be an attractive and accessible place for artists to live and work?
We have collected the following responses from COPE, the Green Party, the NPA and Vision Vancouver:
COPE is focused on making Vancouver more affordable, especially for people with lower incomes — a category which includes most artists. Building public housing, using revenue from developer rezoning charges, and using new revenue from a luxury properties tax and a vacant properties tax, will provide new housing for low-income citizens. Both the luxury tax and vacancy tax will dampen the wild speculation on Vancouver’s land and buildings, and should help slow the rise of rental prices. We will prevent renovictions, which will also keep rents from increasing.
COPE will also negotiate a $30-a-month universal transit pass for all adult residents of Vancouver. $1-a-day unlimited transit will allow artists and other residents to use transit as a convenience rather than an expensive nuisance.
Besides our work on affordability, COPE will establish a Vancouver Endowment for the Arts, interest from which will support a new independent funding agency (over and above the City’s current funding programs). This new organization, modeled on both the Canada Council and the Vancouver Foundation, will be able to provide support for individual working artists in Vancouver.
We need to prioritize truly affordable housing, not by incentivizing market rentals and hope the benefits trickles down (which isn’t working)- but by extracting truly affordable housing from new developments by way of enhancements to the new Housing Authority, and by protecting older affordable apartments and homes (such as are well used by artists in communities like Grandview-Woodland and Mount Pleasant). The way to protect such apartments is to exempt them from blanket upzoning (which triggers speculation and redevelopment) and offer property tax rebates to property owners to upgrade their buildings, on the proviso that, if the city is subsidizing the upgrades, rents can’t increase. In terms of ensuring Vancouver is an attractive place: Green Councillor Adriane Carr has moved a number of motions in support of small business/local shopping, providing long-term protection for community gardens and a healthy environment, a scale of development that retains the charm and character of our city’s unique neighbourhoods and motions in opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline/tanker expansion project that threaten our livability, tourism economy and natural environment. In terms of accessibility: the Green Party supports completing the city-wide cycling network, improving transit city-wide, and improving walkability in our city.
NPA incumbent councilor Elizabeth Ball has been one of Vancouver’s most ardent supporters of our local artists for decades. We will continue her work by working with Tourism Vancouver and willing cultural institutions to support a Cultural Multipass for tourists and citizens, making it easier for people in Vancouver to be able to easily access our many arts and culture institutions and helping to further engrain the arts and culture industry into the fabric of Vancouver life.
We are also committed to supporting our city’s many young artists. An NPA government would provide $25, 000 in annual program funding for small stage productions, and $25, 000 for visual artists to access small stages and galleries, pop up galleries, or other venues.
• Under a Vision Vancouver government, members of Vancouver’s artistic community will have a direct voice to City Hall through the new arms-length City of Vancouver Arts and Culture Policy Council.
• No cuts to city funding to arts and culture. The City now indexes arts funding to ensure stable funding for arts groups, and despite a historic recession Vision Vancouver did not cut arts funding. Vancouver city council provides the highest arts funding per capita of any city in Canada.
• Vision Vancouver is committed to taking action to build new affordable housing, through empowering the new Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency to use city-owned assets to create 500 new affordable homes in its first three years, and to delivering 4000 new rental units over four years through our Rental 100 program and Affordable Housing Plan.