We asked each candidate to answer at least five questions.
Answers are in the order in which they were inputted.
(did not reply: Wei Ping Chen)
1. Richmond needs more purpose-built performance spaces. Richmond-based theatre, opera, choir, orchestra, and music non-profits often need to head into Vancouver or New Westminster in order to find purpose-built performance venues that are affordable and available. How will you address this concern?
It depends on what you mean by performance spaces. For theatre seating and paid admission venues, I would add additional performance spaces by expanding the Gateway Theatre to minimize operating costs rather than building a second facility elsewhere. For informal non-admission outdoor performance spaces, I would be looking at permanent installations in parks and plazas. I live in Steveston’s Imperial Landing and there is a space at the foot of my street on the waterfront that was designated as a performance space on the plans, but sits there as an open plaza with no performances.
I am in favour of new arts facilities and expanding the existing spaces where the need has been demonstrated through a business case. Other levels of government and the School Board would need to be partners along with the community.
2. Do you feel that the arts contribute to our local economy? How or how not? How could this contribution be increased?
The arts contribute to a vibrant city and all benefit from the increased capacity. Also, if there are performances, many will benefit by bringing people to the city and creating interest in Richmond offerings.
Absolutely, but a lot more has to be done on the marketing side by the city. I proposed that one of the buildings on the Imperial Landing waterfront be used for artist studios on a rotating basis with the section facing the water used as a sales room for the works produced. It can be done anywhere there is heavy tourist traffic. Look through the windows and watch the artists at work then go into the shop and buy something.
3. Richmond is a multicultural city, but many feel there are not enough cross-cultural opportunities to build understanding between communities. What role do you think the arts can play in creating bridges between cultures?
The important part is getting citizens with different cultural backgrounds to attend the same arts event and have the opportunity to talk about the event with a neighbour who has a different cultural background. This requires integrating different cultures within the same presentation not simply having sequential presentations that appeal to different audiences. Difficult to do but artists are creative people and should be able to dream up some collaborative efforts.
The arts are universal and demonstrate that we have much in common. The arts can play an important part in bridging between communities. For instance, as a member of the Gateway Theatre board, I was involved in such initiatives, which continue and provides examples of how we can include all cultures in our offerings.
4. With a large percentage of Richmond residents having English as a second language, how can the arts play a role in communication and understanding?
Art most often has its own language and does not require the use of English. Understanding can often come without the language fluency as it communicates much that is important about our cultures.
Bilingual labels on art works, super titles on a screen above performances. This should be a basic requirement.
5. Safety is a major concern for many residents, and although Richmond is one of the safest cities, there is a perception that some areas are not safe. How can art assist in making people feel safer?
In my youth, I organized a wall mural painting group in the inner-city neighbourhood where I lived that suffered from a lot of ugly graffiti. I don’t know if the graffiti artists are the same here, but they did not deface the murals afterward even though they covered up graffiti. We got a deal on used scaffolds. Artists did the outlines and indicated colours to be used to fill in. Then a bunch of ordinary citizens clambered up and did the filling in. Big morale booster for the neighbourhood.
6. Seniors are a growing segment of Richmond’s population, and although we have the longest average lifespan in Canada, we rate low in rankings measuring a sense of belonging within a community. In your opinion, how can the arts help address our wellness and sense of belonging among our seniors, and what role should the City play?
The city should support the arts as part of the great support it provides the seniors. The arts will attract people to congregate and communicate, thus enhancing the quality of life for the participants and others.
Get them off the couch and out participating. I know there are a lot of suitable programs available in the community centres, but we need some innovation on getting seniors involved. Perhaps partner with grocery stores and have a couple of seniors painting or whatever in the stores and talking to seniors passing by about how it has enriched their lives.
7. Richmond is a relatively young city, with well-planned neighbourhoods and infrastructure. Do you feel the arts and artists should be included in City projects in areas such as planning, transportation, and sustainability? Why or why not?
Our ambition is to include everyone in civic planning and affairs. The arts community is an important part.
8. Richmond has had a successful Public Art program for more than 15 years, resulting in one of the most impressive inventories of similar sized Canadian cities contributing to the vibrancy of the City. How would you like to see the program evolve over the next ten years?
The program should continue with the same or higher contribution from development. This will increase the inventory of art pieces, which create interest in the City when displayed.
9. How can you, in your role on the City Council, help support the arts in Richmond?
You are creative people. Bring me your ideas, especially ones that won’t break the bank, and let’s get moving.
I have served as a volunteer in the arts community and always been a supporter. I will continue my support. The expansion of the Arts space to the previous seniors centre is an example of City Council support.
Thank you to the candidates for their responses.
For more info on how to vote this year, please go to http://richmond.ca/elections .