Directors laud Arts and Culture function idea for Cowichan Valley Regional District

Support among directors is high for the creation of a new $130,000 Arts and Culture function at the Cowichan Valley Regional District, but a number of them want more time to consult with their communities on the details of the plan.

The Regional Services Committee, which is comprised of the members of the board, tossed around the idea at their Wednesday night meeting.

There are three prongs to the proposal. It would allocate a sustainable level of funding to the Valley’s three existing arts councils (the Ladysmith and District Arts Council, the Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society and the Cowichan Valley Arts Council), it would allocate funding for a one day per week administrative position to coordinate the groups and regional arts initiatives, and arts councils would be set up in South Cowichan and Cowichan Lake.

Funding would come from all regional district taxpayers on an equal share basis based on property assessment. Not all of the funding would be new.

Assent for the function is proposed to come through the Alternative Approval Process.

"I am 100 per cent in favour of this," said the City of Duncan’s alternate director Sharon Jackson in starting off the discussion. At the cost of a few cents per home the service is cheap, she said, calling the initiative a "no-brainer".

Arts and culture are a "huge economic driver", she said, and "the benefits are going to be felt region-wide."

Right now, funding for the arts councils is being supplied by the CVRD through grantsin-aid, but new rules at the board are enforcing the policy that grants-in-aid are not to be given out on an ongoing basis, year after year.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon

Lefebure echoed Jackson’s sentiments, saying that the funds represent "a relatively small investment that can return great benefits to our community."

"It’s time to do it," he said. "Arts and culture make us who we are," said Dir. Bob Day, who expressed complete confidence in the proposal. Dir. Kerry Davis called arts and culture a pillar of a sustainable community.

Directors Ian Morrison, Alison Nicholson and Sonia Furstenau were also all very supportive of arts in the community, but expressed some discomfort with some of the details of the proposal, and going ahead without talking to the arts sectors in their communities.

"If we are going to do this we should take the time to do it properly," said Furstenau.

A motion to defer the matter to a future meeting to give time for consultations was defeated.

The matter will now go to the board meeting in June, and directors have the chance to talk to their communities before then. A decision must be made by the July board meeting to hit timelines for the next budget cycle.