Local municipal candidates have their say on “arts and culture”

Ziggy AGOG line-upOver the past 10 years, it has been KHC’s practice to give local candidates running for office on Golden Town Council and CSRD Area “A” a forum to have their say on local government’s role in the delivery of arts and cultural services to our community. Last week we reached out by email to all of the candidates running for Mayor, Council, and Regional Director with the following questions:

In May 2014, Mayor Christina Benty presented a brief to the CSRD Board outlining the history and impact of the cultural services agreement between Kicking Horse Culture and the municipal partners: Town of Golden and CSRD Area “A”.

When you reflect on the 8 year collaborative partnership between local government and Kicking Horse Culture, what’s your perspective on the community benefit of Kicking Horse Culture’s delivery of cultural services to the Golden Community?

The municipal partners’ renewed agreement with Kicking Horse Culture runs through now to the end of 2017 i.e. one year before the end of your 4 year electoral term. If KHC continues to successfully satisfy the deliverables of the cultural services agreement throughout this 3 year term, please describe any reason(s) you might have not to advocate for the renewal of this agreement in January 2018?

In the question above we provided the link to Mayor Christina Benty’s presentation CSRD as an overview and factual reference point. We noted to the candidates that we would start to post the responses on this page on Monday, Nov. 3 and would update the page daily as responses were received. Please note for fairness we are listing the responses below verbatim in the order that we receive them from the candidates within the three categories.

Updated 12pm Thursday Nov. 6

Regional Director, CSRD Area “A”

Karen Cathcart: 

The economic and social impact of KHC for our Golden and Area A community has been tremendous.    The Kicking Horse Cultural Scan and Community Consultation report (2006) identified several key recommendations that would foster growth and help build the cultural identity of Golden.  Many of these recommendations have been carried out over the years.  We have vibrant, unique and diverse cultural activities that engage all groups and demographics.  From the summer kicks program to the Winter Snow King Festival to the many musicians, and ballets that grace the Civic Centre stage, Kicking Horse Culture is the catalyst that reminds us how fortunate we all are to live and experience the amazing world class talent both locally and globally; this organization brings to our community throughout the years.

Kicking Horse Culture is a key tourism product that provides the opportunity for tourists to extend their stay while they are recreating in our region.  Those extended stays increase tourism expenditures and therefore increases economic impact to the region.

As an organization, Kicking Horse Culture continues year in and year out to meet or exceeds on the deliverables of the cultural services agreement.  I will support an amenable funding solution that will be in COLLABORATION with the Town of Golden and Area A.

Mayor, Town of Golden

Ron Oszust:

My views haven’t changed from those early days in 2005 when Bill and I had conversations about the future of Golden and District Arts Council (KHC).  I was supportive then and I continue to be as supportive and excited today.

In 2006 I had the opportunity to be one of the two signatories, as Electoral Area Director, to enter into the cultural services delivery contract.  In subsequent years I was supportive of the increases in funding.    I was also thrilled in 2012 when both local governments signed a three year contract. (I was part of Town Council at the time).

The benefit of KHC’s delivery of cultural services to the Golden Community has been amazing and phenomenal, from so many aspects.  As a community we invested about $600K worth of tax dollars into KHC’s operational capacity.  What did we get for this investment of our tax dollars?  We received leveraged dollars such that total revenues over that time were $2.79M, supporting full-time and part-time workers and suppliers, plus $960K of 3rd party fundraising for the Civic Center. What an amazing financial RETURN ON INVESTMENT for our community.  What a powerful community economic development driver for our community.

But we’ve received so much more.  Much attention has been paid to our community as a result of this delivery model.  We can also add Live Kicks, Summer Kicks, Film Kicks, Christmas Craft Faire, Snow King’s Masque Parade, the Art Gallery of Golden and Studio Gift Shop.  These events and operations add significantly to our quality of life and to our sense of place.   Our lives are enriched by their existence.

If KHC continues to successfully satisfy the deliverables of the cultural services agreement throughout the existing 3 year term, I would advocate for the renewal of this agreement.

I know that the group is proud of the work that they have done, and they should be.  I know I am.  This is an excellent example of ENGAGEMENT and EMPOWERMENT of our community.

Thank you to all involved.

Keith Hern:

I have been a supporter and member of KHC for many years and believe it adds a valuable dimension to the community. I have always been of the opinion that KHC should not be funded from property taxation and have suggested in the past that it needs to find an alternative funding model.

I was delighted when the Regional Director suggested that KHC should be funded from the Economic Opportunity Fund. This satisfied both my desires. Firstly to see KHC thrive and grow, and secondly to remove the burden from property tax payers in both Golden and Area A. I supported this agreement.

Three years from now, I will evaluate the contract under the circumstances that prevail at the time.

Thank you for the opportunity to show my support for KHC.

Councillor, Town of Golden

Serge Lamarche:

Culture is one activity that returns the most for the investment. Your analysis proves it again. The entertainment aspect and quality of life can’t really be counted in dollars but are just if not more important for the local citizens and visitors. It is clear that funding KHC should and surely will continue when renewal time comes. The sources of the funds are not really important and if the CSRD also continue to share, the better for everyone’s sense of belonging.

Chris Hambruch:

Yes I think that Kicking Horse Culture has delivered on the cultural services contract above and beyond my expectations. I talk to many people that are very grateful for the work that Kicking Horse Culture does. While there are obvious economic benefits I think that the funding should come from taxation and not the Economic Opportunity Fund. Would I support renewal of the contract, certainly with the continued current deliverables.

Caleb Moss:

The impact of Kicking Horse Culture on the fabric of our community has been, and continues to be outstanding. Our investment in, and engagement with, the arts has not only put Golden on the provincial map in terms of delivery excellence, but also has increased the breadth and depth of quality of life in our small town. Rapid organizational growth has helped us realize a fantastic performing arts space in the civic centre, a dedicated art gallery supporting both local and regional talents, and the creation and support of numerous community based artistic and cultural projects. We are the envy of our regional neighbours, are recognized both provincially and nationally, and continue to reap tangible economic benefits and less tangible, but no less important, social benefits. All contracted deliverables have been met or exceeded and local government has recognized a model structure in terms of investment and return. In short, KHC has been awesome for our community and we, as local government, have been thrilled with our successful partnering these past eight years.

I am proud to have played an intimate role in helping grow KHC and transform the delivery model. Prior to being elected to town council in 2008, I sat as co-chair on the KHC board and worked to shift and change a somewhat unproductive historical relationship with local government. In my two terms on council, I have sat as ex-officio on the KHC board and served as resource to directors and staff. In acting as the informational and policy conduit between the municipal government and KHC, I have helped successfully grow the relationship between the two entities while continuing to construct a service delivery partnership that is now considered a model system throughout the province. Assuming that I am re-elected to public office, I intend to continue to build on our historic success and see absolutely no reason why a renewal agreement would not be forthcoming in 2018. I believe that it is the duty of a councillor to invest in community infrastructure. In my mind, there are many aspects such as roads, utilities and rec facilities that are foundational, but very few that are, like arts and culture, transformational. Government investment in partnering with KHC to deliver cultural services has had, and will continue to have, my full political support.

Lori Baxendale:

Culture allows us to understand ourselves and the Arts illuminate & enrich our lives.   Arts and culture engage us, define us and hand down tradition.  Both are essential to education; bringing imagination and self-expression to the grade schools and a relationship with lifelong learning for adults.
Arts and cultural make a major contribution to social well-being – in engagement with children and young people, families, older people and the marginalised. We encourage the individuality of our local community and through our commitment to diversity we strive to bring out the positive, creative potential of our citizens through arts & culture.
Investment in arts and culture is important.  Too often cost, and not value is taken into consideration when debating funding.   Under the flag of fiscal restraint, one of the easiest targets for spending cuts is the arts, and voters can play a role in that by not making enough of a fuss about it.  That is not the case in Golden and Area however, citizens value their culture and are not afraid to stand up for it.
A modern economic outlook needs a strong cultural scene to help attract and retain citizens. This is especially important for trying to draw the best and brightest global minded citizens; for if they (or their families) are not pleased with our amenities, including cultural, they won’t choose us.  To become creative, innovative and imaginative citizens that can contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of Golden,  we need to willingly and regularly expose ourselves to new points of view and experiences.  A vibrant arts and culture community is the easiest way to make this possible.
Investing in arts & culture is a must.  In joining local government in Golden as a Town Councillor, I commit to supporting funding for as long as I am able to play a role, whether it be via taxation, the Economic Opportunity Fund or any other tool available to us in the future.   Long live arts and culture in Golden.

Leslie Adams:

I believe that a healthy arts community brings significant benefits, and scientific studies back me up. Access to the arts improves people’s health, happiness, and intelligence as well as building cohesion among citizens. It has also been proven to reduce crime and intolerance.
And arts and culture makes a community so much more attractive, drawing in new people and businesses, increasing economic development. A vibrant arts community encourages tourism, increasing lengths of stays and enticing visitors to return.
In 2017, provided all the deliverables have been met, I will be advocating for the renewal of the agreement between both the Town of Golden and the CSRD.

Eddie Leigan:

In my opinion, Kicking Horse Culture does a great job of delivering cultural services for the Town of Golden and the Area A. I think it would be impossible for the Town of Golden or the CSRD to achieve what KHC delivers using the funds we provide. KHC does a fantastic job of stretching the funds we provide using volunteers and leveraging to provide a top quality service to the people of our community and the visitors. Keep up the great work.

Assuming Kicking Horse Culture continues to provide the services that they are currently providing I would see no good reason to stop funding them. As I have said before, there is no way that the TOG or CSRD could provide the level of service that we receive in the way of concerts, shows, and marketing of our community for the amount of funds we allocate. I would be happy to support Kicking Horse Cultures funding in 2018. As to where we will take that funding from, that is another conversation but in the short and sweet, YES the top quality service of Kicking Horse Culture should be supported under another long term deal in 2018.

Bob Munro:

Heather and I have been members and supporters of Kicking Horse Culture for many years.

We have been and are proud advocates for our local art & culture community.
In addition to attending many performances ourselves (sometimes first in line to purchase tickets) we have also successfully encouraged guests at Le Beausoleil B&B to both visit the Gallery and attend Summer Kicks performances or shows at the Civic Centre.  This practice will continue.
If Kicking Horse Culture continues to deliver the types of programs it has in the past and the community has the ability to fund its programs I CAN NOT think of any reason for withdrawing my support.
Here’s to many more years of success.

 Connie Barlow:

The collaborative partnership between the Town of Golden & CSRD Area “A” has provided the support to help make Kicking Horse Culture (KHC) become renowned across BC.

Kicking Horse Culture has grown significantly with respect to their internal capabilities over the last 8 years. Funding alone has not made the organization successful.   KHC has a functional board, committed volunteers and the capable staff needed to craft and execute an appropriate plan for our community.

Funding for Kicking Horse Culture needs to be looked at as an investment. What is our community receiving for this investment?

Through KHC our community is receiving many of the things that make living in Golden so wonderful! Regular, free outdoor concerts in the summer bring our community together. Special events at the Civic Centre open minds and doors to world famous acts. When visitors come to Golden, KHC events provide another reason for them to stay a little longer, spend a little more money and experience the wonderful things our community has to offer. KHC events show that we are a healthy, diverse, and balanced community.

From my experience both as a former KHC board member and Town Councillor, and from hearing from many citizens, I believe that financial support for KHC is an effective use of public funds. When I see the smiling faces of local children learning how to create a lantern for the Snow King Masque Parade, watch seniors clapping along to music at the Spirit Square or see people of all ages dancing together at the Civic Centre, I realize that the benefits for improved arts and culture services are not just financial in nature.

However, I understand that there are those that have different ideas and I am always open – just like the KHC Board is – to explore opportunities for improvement that will benefit our entire community.

Bruce Fairley

I have been a contributor to Kicking Horse Culture and its predecessor organization, The Arts Council,  ever since arriving in Golden, and have championed many events.  For many years the Town of Golden funded recreational activities and facilities while giving only a pittance to cultural activities.    I always thought this was wrong and that culture deserved support in the same manner that recreational activities were supported.   Currently taxpayers are funding two full time recreation positions in the town office and recreational facilities such as the arena, the swimming pool and the Rec Plex.    I actually do not favour continued funding for Kicking Horse Culture year after year from the Economic Opportunity Fund, since in my view that fund is not designed for ongoing funding of specific projects or initiatives year after year.    However,  in my view a better balance of resources would be to fund a recreation officer and a similar position in the cultural sector.   In other words, the Town (or Town and Regional District) should fund the Executive Director of Kicking Horse Culture.    We should also maintain the Civic Centre as a cultural resource in the same manner as we maintain the arena and the Rec Plex.    I am sure that there are many citizens who attend events at the Civic Centre many times a year and never set foot in the arena or the Rec Plex.    And personally I don’t have much issue funding these cultural services from tax dollars in the same way that we fund recreation.   I also think it is important that we conduct a comprehensive review and proper cost accounting of all of these kinds of funding commitments which have developed in a somewhat ad hoc manner over the years, so that we really know what each is truly costing us.   On that basis a comprehensive plan for funding them on a sustainable and ongoing basis can be developed.