If White Rock wants to become a cultural destination, it's got to put its money where its mouth is.
That was the message from the Mayor's Arts Economic Task Force for the City of White Rock at Monday's council meeting.
The task force, comprising various stakeholders in White Rock's arts community, presented the result of four months of work to council, highlighting the resources already available within the community and what they feel needs to be done to grow White Rock's arts scene.
"The vision is 15 years from now you describe White Rock as a world-class arts and cultural destination," said Geoff Giffin, a member of the task force and president of Peninsula Productions.
To do that, noted Giffin, council has to make strides toward committing to that vision, primarily by hiring a full-time arts and culture development manager to focus solely on guiding White Rock down that path.
"One concern is that we (as a city) keep doing the same things over again," said Giffin. "This time... we brought in the experience of other communities performing similar kinds of activities and tried to use those to the best of our considerations."
Citing examples such as Ashland, Ore. and Chemainus on Vancouver Island, Giffin noted that it is possible for communities to radically change their economic focus.
"Ashland has a population of about 23,000, and 75 years ago it was a dying town," said Giffin. "Now they sell 415,000 theatre tickets per year, have a 94 per cent occupancy rate in hotels and attract 100,000 visitors every year."
But what makes White Rock particularly suited to become a cultural destination, said Giffin, is that there is already a large number of artists in the community.
"In White Rock we have a higher than average number of people dedicated to the arts," said Giffin. "I know people who live here, work in the arts - but in another community. They would love to work here if there was a job for them."
Mayor Wayne Baldwin appreciated the presentation and said staff would look into the budget to see if there would be room to accommodate such a role.
"We need to look at how this can be accomplished without too much of an impact on the budget," said Baldwin. "It depends on the amount of autonomy the person would have and what responsibilities."
The task force estimated the cost of the position to be roughly $86,000.
However, until the feasibility of such a role could be determined, the task force encouraged council to continue with initiatives such as the busking program.
"People love standing around watching buskers and then they get hungry and spend money, or buy a CD," said Giffin. "We need to honour more of that. (Attractions) don't have to be from somewhere else to be excellent, it can be right here." email@example.com
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