Friday, August 7, 2009

The Truth about the Incumbent's "Appreciation" of the Arts

Though my opponent hasn't shown any interest in the arts at all over his last 20 years in office, he seems to have suddenly woken up and realized it might be a good campaign tactic to "care."

In today's Columbian, Jeff Mize reported on the mayor's sudden announcement at this week's City Council meeting that Pollard intends to re-convene an arts commission. That's a convenient change of heart, given that it was his administration that summarily disbanded the city's cultural commission a few years ago.

A few members of the arts community are working with Pollard on his plan to create a commission that is controlled by the city but unfunded and unstaffed. Many, many others in the arts community are coming forth to share their opinions on this half-cocked plan.

Here is a note from Jaynie Roberts, Artistic Director of Vancouver's Magenta Theater Company:

My experience with current city government and the arts…..

I served on the Vancouver Cultural Commission from May 2004 until it was abruptly disbanded in 2005. I have a framed letter on my wall, from Royce Pollard, as evidence of such.

I formed Arts in the Chamber – a program that brought the arts into City Council meetings. The perception was that council members were too busy to attend arts events so by bringing the water to the horses, perhaps they would drink and develop a thirst for more. Vietnamese musicians, actors, musical theater performers, and a Celtic violinist brought their talent to the meetings and were well received (I thought) until I was informed that the program was no longer to be included in the meetings. End of Arts in the Chamber.

I participated in the long drawn-out discussions about Wendy the Welder – a sculpture that now (finally) sits on the waterfront. I was in awe of how long it took to get Wendy from blueprint to final resting place. Good grief!

I attended numerous off-site functions where Cultural Commission presence was requested. I chatted with visitors from Japan – in Japanese. It was difficult for the visitors to remember my name, as Cultural Commission members were not provided with name badges. So, I took it upon myself (with the ok from our City liaison) to design and purchase badges for all Cultural Commissioners. The name badges were such a positive move that the months of waiting for reimbursement hardly seemed problematic. (Although I did object slightly to the fact I had to provide my entire credit card statement to prove I had made the purchase.) Shortly thereafter, the name badges became obsolete. Mine now serves as a shiny refrigerator magnet.

I was puzzled and confused when a Cultural Commission meeting was cancelled because City Hall was locked and we couldn’t get in. I was highly offended when I was informed through the grapevine that the Commission had been disbanded. All of this was handled in such an unprofessional manner, that I felt used, abused, minimized and dismissed.

I could go on and on about my experiences with the Cultural Commission but I can sum it all up by saying this. I would never, ever serve in any official capacity on any commission or committee under the ‘leadership’ of Royce Pollard ever again. I was burned, I was offended, I was pushed aside, I was treated rudely. Ugh!

Jaynie Roberts, Former Member City of Vancouver Cultural Commission

1 comment:

Tim Leavitt said...

Here is an additional comment, sent to me by Rosalie Gottlieb:
"I was on the Cultural Commission for 5 years. My thought is that possibly the person who worked for the City turned against the Commission and might have pulled some of those on the committee to go along with her. Everything suggested was considered incorrect and not worthy of us to do.
We were told we couldn't do anything to raise any money and were also told that we couldn't do anything like plan on a performing arts center unless we had some money.

I still have the minutes that were written about what took place the meeting it blew up and I also have a copy of the minutes of what was produced by the one hired by the city, The 2 do not match.

When I went to talk to the Mayor he had nothing to offer me in a future for any cultural commission in Vancouver. I really hoped that I could discuss this matter with someone who cared about culture. They would know how wonderful it is for children to be able to play an instrument or sing or act."

-Rosalie Gottlieb, Former Member of City of Vancouver Cultural Commission