The art of the campaign

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As we approach the August 20 Democratic firehouse primary for City Council, a question that’s been asked on the state and federal levels is worth asking here. What should be the city government’s role in supporting the arts?

I asked the 12 candidates to respond by e-mail to a prompt: Should the city fund the arts? If so, what kinds of arts projects or organizations should it fund? Read the candidates’ statements below. (All statements have been edited for length. See candidates’ complete statements on the Feedback blog at c-ville.com.)

 

Scott Bandy (I)
Barring the miraculous phenomenon of all nations forgiving every others of debt, I don’t see how in days ahead the city governmental body can unavoid partial discontinuance in respect to some arts. We don’t need that azure figurine from North Carolina Mr. Huja’s preoccupied with. As far as arts priorities, the last thing I’d stand seeing cut would be those directed and related to our children and elderly.
 
Paul Beyer (D)
We don’t spend much [on arts] as it is, and we have not begun to explore the economic potential the arts offer. The arts play a significant role in fostering middle-class jobs, driving our local economy, and providing the cultural distinction which makes us an attractive place to live. I have an arts background, and I would support the arts whether they ever made us a dollar. The fact is, though, they do.…A diverse middle class and working class jobs are important, and the arts are an underutilized source and inspiration for those jobs.
 
Colette Blount (D)
City Council, as outlined in its Vision 2025, aims to uphold its partnership with Piedmont Council for the Arts. Because of PCA’s broad, community outreach, I would support this link. Charlottesville is home to some fantastic festivals: book, cultural, film, and photography. Their local, national, and international draw is a boon to our economy. Toward the goal of sustaining our children’s engagement with the arts, priority consideration should be given to programs/festivals with well-defined community outreach, especially with underrepresented groups.
 
Brevy Cannon, pictured at McGuffey Art Center, announced in June that he would run as a Democrat for City Council. He faces off against six other Democractic hopefuls on August 20, before the election in November.
Brevy Cannon (D)
Especially in tough economic times, we must support our city’s world-class festivals of film, books and photography, which draw visitors from around the nation and the world, create jobs and add to our economy. One dollar spent supporting them creates many dollars of benefit to our community…We get far less economic “bang for our buck” from direct commissions to artists—such as paying for a single ArtInPlace piece.
 
Brandon Collins (I)
I would like to see the city include outreach to low-income people and children in the new assessment policy for funding of non-profits…. We also must allow the organic growth of the arts in Charlottesville. I firmly believe that one of the best ways to do this is to change zoning law to allow live music “by-right” in downtown Belmont and to raise the dB [decibel] limit citywide including for musicians and performers on the Downtown Mall.
 
Bob Fenwick (I)
Too often projects are supported based upon whom you know or whom you have befriended instead of artistic “merit,” and once government gives monetary support it usually expects some kind of control over content. This is disastrous to the personal creativity, simplicity and beauty of any art form…Since the city can find millions of dollars for expert consultants…we can find money to support the arts without shortchanging basic help for those who need it in a deep recession.
 
Kathy Galvin (D)
Charlottesville’s direct funding for the arts and arts festivals is under 1 percent of the 2011-2012 budget—it’s money well spent…. We must continue to support arts in our schools and the community, and look for additional ways that the city can incorporate arts and artisans into the fabric of Charlottesville—perhaps through housing options (as Ventura, California, has done), public exhibition and performance opportunities, or artist-in-residence stints with summer camps, to name only a few possibilities.
 
In the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the city budgeted more than $1.6 million for local arts organizations, the lion’s share of which goes to the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. Other recipients include the Charlottesville Municipal Band (which gets $72,885 annually), the City Center for Contemporary Arts ($31,958), McGuffey Art Center ($23,477) and Piedmont Council for the Arts ($21,590). That $1.6 million figure does not include another $100,000 the city spends on community events like our major local film, photograph and book festivals.
James Halfaday (D)
Tough economic times can result in the reduction of available funds in a lot of areas, and it is certainly critical to provide essential services and educational opportunities to all of our residents, but is also important to support the vitality and growth of our culture and community through the arts. The projects and organizations to be funded should focus on providing support for local artists and on bringing exposure of the art of our county and the rest of the world to the residents of Charlottesville.
 
 
Satyendra Huja (D)
I am a strong supporter of art and cultural activities in our community. Art and cultural activity make a great quality of life for our citizens and also brings visitors and revenue to the city. I will continue to support: all our festivals, Piedmont Council for the Arts, McGuffey, Live Arts, Paramount, Discovery Museum, ArtInPlace, the Charlottesville Municipal Band and many other cultural activities in our community. Arts enrich our lives and make us unique and deserve our support.
 
Paul Long (I)
If elected to City Council, I would consult with the arts community, the business community, as well as the philanthropic community, to determine the level of financial support the arts need to survive…. I believe that the city’s financial support of the arts should be open-ended. I believe that the city should be an equal financial supporter of the arts, along with the business community, and the philanthropic community as well.
 
Dede Smith (D)
I support public funding of the arts and would favor programs that reach the widest range of age, income, race, and ethnicity. Programs for children, such as those that bring a diversity of music, theater and art experiences into the schools support multiple goals. One priority for me would be to assure that initiatives that receive public funding strive for inclusion of the many cultures represented in our community. Likewise, the use of city venues and city support of festivals should be sensitive to representing a diverse population of artists and audiences.
 
Andrew Williams (I)
Fortunately, funding for the arts is still within our reasonable means and is an idea I fully support…. As the resident is the primary shareholder of Charlottesville in my opinion, it would be wise to focus on the interest of the majority and address the concern of the few…Cville should continue to support various children’s organizations associated with art and certainly the fine art department in our schools.
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