The three electoral areas of the regional district will each contribute $2,000 towards a feasibility study on establishing a recreation, arts and culture service for areas A, B and C, as approved Tuesday by the CVRD board.
“A note of appreciation to the area directors for taking initiative with this,” Courtenay director Jon Ambler said.
While encouraged by the combined $6,000 contribution, the administrator at the Comox Valley Art Gallery says action is also needed.
“Definitely glad to see there’s discussion and hopefully movement on that,” Sharon Karsten said. “At some point feasibility studies need to transform into action. One of the ways that action can happen is through developing a cultural plan. In my view a cultural plan is key to leveraging your cultural assets towards growth of the region.”
Studies have found that for every dollar spent on the arts, $1.36 is returned to a community, Karsten said in a previous interview. She notes, however, that arts funding in B.C. is about one-quarter to a third of the national average.
“I think there’s a need to transform the parameters in which arts and culture are understood, and to document the value of arts and culture within communities, and then to strategically deploy arts and culture towards particular community development ends.”
Be they economic, social or environmental development.
“Culture has the ability to rise above these categories, and to move agendas forward,” Karsten said.
At the Creative Cities Conference in Victoria, she spoke with various people from regional districts that are placing culture front and centre in regional development strategies.
The CVRD has completed a report dubbed a principle-based framework for funding regional recreation and cultural facilities. Electoral areas contribute funds to non-profit recreation, arts and cultural organizations through grants-in-aid and the recreation program grant service.
Early in the year the province reinstated community grant funding eligibility for various bodies including adult arts organizations.
The gallery — crippled in recent years by an accumulating deficit — has received $25,000 in gaming funds.
“We had done some major cutbacks in staff time,” Karsten said. “Having that funding allows us a bit of stability, and allows the restoration of some of the projects we had cut.
“We’ve developed a strategic plan for the gallery,” she added. “We’re looking at not just treading water, we need to be moving forward.”