Letter to the Editor
March 28, 2015
Arts and Culture
“ I support the arts and culture” became a well-worn phrase during Cranbrook’s municipal election in the fall of 2014. The first real test of that “support” is now in front of our recently elected Mayor and Council.
The Cranbrook and District Arts Council (CDAC) want to turn historic Fire Hall No. 1 into a vibrant new home for Arts and Culture, which would also continue the revitalization of our downtown. Our newly elected municipal government has a great opportunity to make this happen. How?
Take the notion of selling the Fire Hall off the table. This is an important piece of our history and our culture - it should remain as a public building.
Lease the Fire Hall to the CDAC and structure the lease so that if the Arts Council ever becomes insolvent, the building and all of the improvements return to the city without any compensation. A new roof, improved access for those with disabilities, and a greatly improved interior are not future liabilities for taxpayers.
If there are deficiencies in the CDAC’s Business Plan, have city staff work with them to correct the deficiencies and improve the Plan. This is common practice and demonstrates a partnership approach to improving our community. Improve proponent’s proposals is an important role for staff.
Include funding in the 5 Year Financial Plan to support the CDAC and their efforts to secure a long-term home. This demonstrates to potential grant funders and donors that Cranbrook really does support the arts. As a community we have borrowed and invested millions of dollars in recreation facilities to support healthy bodies. There is much to be said for investing in supporting creativity and healthy souls.
There are hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants available in support of arts and culture. If that money doesn’t come to Cranbrook it will go to other communities. Having it come here supports our economy at no additional cost to local taxpayers.
There is a real opportunity here to ensure that “I support arts and culture” aren’t just hollow words…