Two Questions For The Candidates – Cobourg
On a personal basis Suzanne and I are strong supporters of the Arts. We are not only season subscribers to the Northumberland Orchestra, and the Oriana Singers and a member of the Art Gallery of Northumberland, but also make annual donations to each of these community organizations.
I support the position that the Cobourg Council support the Arts not only from an enriching cultural experience for both the participants and audiences but from an economic stimulus viewpoint. That is why, for example I fully support the Town supporting the Northumberland Players’ use of the old Firehall for rehearsals and workshops plus the use of the town-owned King St. building to house the two floors of costumes.
I continue to support the
The annual Town grant to the Northumberland Orchestra should continue.
In order for the Arts to flourish the Town must continue to support them. The Arts are a strong stimulus to our economy.
That is why this Council, with me as Mayor, has promoted as part of our economic development strategy, supporting the Arts.
I am committed to lobbying and supporting the idea that the Arts must be part of our tourism strategy and community wellness strategy.
This commitment must be supported by continued financial support.
Peter Delanty, Mayor, Cobourg.
As former chairman of the Thomas Gillbard Committee, a group that attempted to purchase the school to house an Arts Council and a number of cultural activities I certainly support the arts as an important part of our quality of life. I feel we should continue our support through our Tourism and Events Coordinators and do as much as we can to support the arts. I even support partnerships that give the arts a higher profile through our Community Development office and our town website.
Our recent Economic Development Strategic Plan outlines the employment in all sectors of our economy. The cultural sector in Cobourg employs 80 people out of 8,695 jobs in Cobourg, so the consultant did not identify any specifics to address in this area. However, his analysis did show that employment in this area in Cobourg is increasing above the provincial average. Obviously our economic development energies will be focused in the larger areas of employment, but as a member of the Economic Development Advisory Committee I am open to hearing specific strategies on how the arts can play an increasing role in our economic development.
Gil Brocanier, Deputy Mayor, Cobourg
In my view, the questions you have posed are intended to garner responses specific to financial issues. As a candidate for the Budget portfolio, I choose to remain neutral with respect to any preferences that relate to funding the various groups seeking commitments from candidates on their funding priorities. In my opinion, it is part of the Deputy Mayor's responsibility to ensure that all interests are treated fairly and equitably, including from the funding perspective.
As for your second question, I think it's up to an organization to make its case as best it can when seeking support, and then it is up to those advancing such support to give fair and equitable consideration to all bona fide requests. That is the extent of any commitment I am prepared to make under these circumstances. Candidates for Council seats may not find themselves as limited in their choices of commitments, and hopefully their responses are more helpful and informative. I'm confident that you and your organization understand my position on your request.
Manfred Schumann, Deputy Mayor, Cobourg
There has always been some public resistance to spending tax payer’s monies in the Arts. It is always the first to get cut in troubled times and the last to be funded in good times.
I believe that the Arts are a very important aspect of our cultural mosaic and new ideas for funding cultural endeavors are desperately needed. While public funding for the arts is desirable, there is limited money available. Cobourg’s current level of taxation is literally forcing some of our senior citizens to sell their homes as their fixed incomes do not allow them the luxury of keeping them any longer.
What I will strive to do when elected is initiate a full review of the town’s spending priorities that will result in tax monies being available to fund important civic initiatives without imposing undue hardships on those most vulnerable.
Stan Frost, Councillor, Cobourg
Fundamentally, I support the arts as integral to our community and in particular, our quality of life. As a landscape architect I also support high quality public places as important to community identity.
Local government has a role to ensure that the arts are accessible to the citizens of the community. I also have a strong view that the delivery of these opportunities requires business planning that addresses long term viability or at least a good plan for a special or one-time event. Local government, I believe, has an important role to provide some seed money towards support of these ventures especially when new.
Long term support may be required for exhibition space or an annual event, but a reliance on total funding from government sources may not be reliable unless the space or event is deemed an essential service (the day may come!). Continuity is important in being able to attract new and repeat visitors.
Also, donations eg. bequests, to the Town could be earmarked for specific community interests and the arts could have an account or trust set up with a board to oversee activities. Perhaps a citizen advisory committee.
In Cobourg we are fortunate to have the home base of the Art Gallery of Northumberland. The town tourism department has an important role in promotion of the arts, or, at least maintain a link to the arts network.
On the second question, regarding the inclusion of the arts in economic development plans, my view is broader support of the arts should be included in the following:
- citizen advisory committee reporting to Council for art in public spaces (Cobourg has one)
- capital budgets, maintenance budgets, planning and development, places for art, installation of art,
- development charges towards public art,
- % all parkland dedication (% of 5% or land of new development) towards arts account,
- municipal projects to include publicly accessible art, special events ie festival, as part of tourism outdoor art display space, may be seasonal or permanent some financial support for theatre/community meeting place
Quality of life is a big issue and important to community identity. So called soft services (as differentiated from hard or essential services such as roads and sewers) include the arts, library services etc. and have to be viewed as essential services in order to be weighted properly at budget time.
Sometimes it does not take a lot to make a significant difference. Also, Town Councils may need presentations from delegations to hear about ideas.
Miriam Mutton, Councillor Cobourg
I am a huge supporter of the arts as I have been chair or member of a few organizations that promote the arts. I do believe in support from governments at all levels.
As former Chair of First night we hired many local and national musicians, up to 20 groups some years, to play at as many as 12 venues in Downtown Cobourg on New Years Eve. The night could not take place without financial support from the Town, DBIA and service groups.
Being the DBIA Chair and Special Events Chair, the DBIA constantly tried to promote the arts for Downtown as well as partner with various groups including members of Northumberland Players to put on events such as Ghost Walks and the Shelter Valley Folk Festival and the Song Writer Competition during the Sidewalk Sale.
Arts in a community especially downtown help attract tourists and helps the economy as business will locate in centres that offer a full range of services and activities, so it only makes sense to invest in the arts and make it part of the economic development plans.
I have always thought an arts centre is needed and should have been done at Thomas Gillbard and could also combine a community/seniors centre. If done properly, with funds from a combination of private, corporate, municipal and other levels, and converting existing facilities, it may cost taxpayers less than the proposed new Seniors centre. If a suitable building in the downtown could be obtained it would spur more growth and make a stronger Downtown.
Gerry Drage, Councillor, Cobourg
This is my first time running for council. My understanding is that the town does financially support the Arts & Culture. This is a budget item and should be addressed at either the December or January council meeting when the budget is reviewed. I want you to know that if elected I would support a review of the town's financial support of Arts & Culture.
Rob Harper, Councillor, Cobourg