Arts and culture are an important part of the fabric of every city. The evidence is overwhelming that in Canada, investing in arts and culture produces healthier, more prosperous and more livable world-class cities.
For every $1 invested in Arts and Culture by a municipality, you can expect another $3 to $5 in funding from other levels of government, $3 to $5 from the private sector and $4 to $6 in earned revenue from art sales, ticket sales, program fees, venue rentals and bar and gift shop sales.
Much like fostering growth in small businesses in Windsor, supporting the development and growth of a thriving Arts and Culture sector is an important part of an economic diversity program. Windsor has and does produce many top notch artists in many different fields, but more often as naught, a lack of community support forces them to leave our city.
If elected I will:
1. Move to eliminate the position of Sports Tourism Officer and the associated budget of approximately $400,000 dollars and transfer that position to Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, where they can work in collaboration with all tourism sectors and access the full range of tools to make Sport Tourism successful. I see this as a way to conduct Sports Tourism in a fiscally responsible way while helping ensure it's overall success.
The $400,000 previously budgeted for Sports Tourism will be transferred to the City of Windsor Arts, Culture and Heritage fund, at $100,000 a year, to provide a second tier of funding opportunities for our cultural sector. This 2nd tier would provide grants of up to $25,000 per year or multi-year $30,000 dollar grants, declining by 1/3 each year (eg. $30,000 in funding in Year 1, $20,000 in Year 2 and $10,000 in year three.) Larger grants will afford the opportunity for organizations, like the Raindance Centre or Sho Art, Spirit & Performance, to grow their initiatives, provide resources for other artists and ultimately provide jobs in the community.
2. Move to cancel our yearly $50,000 funding for the Detroit Grand Prix and transfer that money to the Arts and Culture department to develop a "Street Art" competition and festival for Windsor. Many of Windsor's Business Improvement Areas (BIA's) have successfully used Street Art and Murals to rejuvenate their districts and reduce graffiti at the same time. Windsor is home to many world-class artists who regularly display their work in New York, Los Angeles and beyond.
In partnership with the private sector, we will develop a Street Art festival, from a local to a destination event, with a competitive component. City buildings in parks can be enhanced with this art and protected from graffiti. Community involvement in the various projects throughout the wards would be strongly encouraged. The concept of the festival is such that it can be hosted in different areas of the City, with a unique local aspect to each year's festival. For example, in year one, it could be hosted in conjunction with Ford City's "Dropped on Drouillard" festival, which already has a street art component. In the second year, it could be shifted to Remington Park and a third year would see the Street Art Festival visit Sandwich Towne. It can be grown to provide further opportunities for new sculptures, public art and can be extended to include future plans for our new Civic Plaza in front of City Hall.
Arts Votes 2018
Arts Votes, an iniative of the Arts Council Windsor and Region sent out a survey to all candidates on the arts. Below are the questions and my responses.
What opportunities do believe Windsor-Essex has to grow our art, culture and heritage sector?
The biggest opportunity for growth is October 22nd. Not only is voting important, but ACTIVELY encouraging others to vote and helping out candidates who support the arts. There are 4 Advanced poll days remaining in Windsor, along with election day. Call every one of your members and encourage them to vote. Encourage them to volunteer for candidates who support the arts. Engage with them one on one. A survey and a web posting, social media post or email with the results or email are not enough.
Without that support and votes on Council, the arts will continue to struggle in Windsor
How do you propose to attract or retain artists and cultural workers in your community?
My platform outlines two specific, immediate and achievable goals to increase funding for the sector. First is shifting the Sports Tourism position to TWEPI, along with the responsibility of funding it (from the new Hotel Tax). The $400,000 over four years currently spent on Sports Tourism is to be redirected to a 2nd tier of larger and possibly long term funding for Windsor's Art, Cultural and Heritage fund. Single year $25,000 grants or multi-year declining $30,000 grants (funding declining by 1/3rd each year) would be made available to facilitate deeper development of projects in Windsor as opposed to the often one off nature of the current smaller grant program. Secondly, we would cease sponsorship of the Detroit Grand Prix and redirect that $50,000 a year in funding to creating a local Street Art festival. In collaboration with organizations and local businesses, the potential exists to grow that festival from a local one to a destination event. Complete details are available at https://www.voteforjim.ca/arts_and_culture. In the longer term, Windsor must commit to increasing it's per capita funding from it's current level of $1.07 to that of our contemporaries, London and Hamilton at $5.01 and $5.79 respectively and eventually to reach the Provincial average of $7.52 . To achieve this goal will require education, planning and outreach to the community at large.
What role do you see for arts and culture in the promotion of the region both as a destination for tourists and as a place of permanent residence for youth, families and retirees?
Currently, I don't see a role for arts and culture in the promotion of the region, mainly because we lack the groundwork, the research, the goals and an actionable plan to give us a path to effectively accomplish that mission. While increased funding is one part of the answer, it is only one factor of many. I would like to work with Windsor and Region's art community, TWEPI and other interested community organizations and businesses over the next 4 years to develop a realistic actionable plan to achieve both goals from an Arts and Culture perspective.
In what other ways could you use your position as an elected official to help support the arts, culture and heritage sector outside of using Municipal funding.
In the short term, my own participation in the Arts and Culture scene can be used to highlight various artists and organizations, the opportunities to experience arts, cultural and heritage experiences in Windsor. Through my website and social media channels I will actively support and help spread the word about the many and diverse offerings available in our region. In the long term, I'm open to ideas, beyond funding, where my support could have a positive effect.
What is your perspective on the best ways to collaborate with other levels of government to ensure sustainability and growth for the cultural sector of our community?
To be honest, I need feedback and suggestions from the arts, cultural and heritage community in order to effectively accomplish this goal. Simply lobbying for more funding from Provincial and Federal governments is trodding a well worn path with mixed results.
One of the biggest areas for improvement in this regard can be found at the local level through our own Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation. There needs to be an awareness on City Council, and at WEEDC, that the arts, culture and heritage sector is a viable vehicle for the economic diversification that Windsor has long sought. Does WEEDC have the required knowledge of the sector in order to promote it, have a designated staff member to accomplish this task and do they have a plan for the arts, culture and heritage sector as it relates to the economic development of Windsor?
How do you personally engage with arts, culture and heritage in Windsor-Essex?
I'm a current supporter of WIFF and look forward to each year's event. Along with my wife I enjoy attending new exhibits at the Art Gallery of Windsor and at several private galleries. Art in the Park is another long standing Windsor event I try to make it to each year.