Happy post-election day to all the candidates, voters, and citizens in Guelph! It has been a particularly long campaign season and on behalf of Guelph Arts Council staff and Board of Directors, I would like to congratulate all nominees and those who were selected by their fellow citizens to lead and initiate change for Guelph residents for the next four years.
Over the course of the election Guelph Arts Council led the local ArtsVote campaign. While we have been engaging with candidates throughout the election, we took to social media last week to invite candidates to discuss how they would work to support arts and culture over the next four years. These results were assembled and posted on our website. While a good majority of the candidates responded with their support of arts and culture, few posted a real platform that included how they intended to help strengthen the cultural sector over the course of their term.
With this in mind, I think that citizens and the arts community have great opportunity over the next four years to tell our new and re-elected leaders how important the arts are to our community. While most candidates acknowledged their support of arts and culture, few know how to best support the sector.
For artists and arts supporters, it is well known that arts and culture drive tourism, support the local economy, create jobs, engage community, initiate change, and promote good health. As a citizen, supporting the arts comes in many forms—attendance of local events and initiatives, purchasing the work of local musicians, artists, and community groups, volunteering, information sharing, contributing to fundraising initiatives, membership, and good old fashioned donating. As an elected leader, stating that you like the arts isn’t enough. As a member of the arts community, I can say that we need the support of council as we push through another season of great events and art. But we can’t leave it up to our leaders; we need to do our duty as citizens to let the Mayor and Council know about the strength, resilience, and value that the arts bring to Guelph.
Over the course of the previous four years, we have had some very strong leaders in office who have worked hard to enhance the capacity of the arts and culture sector in Guelph. What the ArtsVote campaign demonstrated is that we have some truly supportive and innovative thinkers who will push the arts agenda forward. Over the next four years, let’s keep arts active around the horseshoe. Let’s, as a community, invite our elected leaders to events, ask them to help promote the arts to their community through their networks, and help us as we work together to make Guelph one of Canada’s great creative communities.
Thank you to everyone who helped us connect with candidates to show their support of the arts and thank you to all those who took the time to respond to us via twitter, Facebook, phone, email, and connecting with us in person. I look forward to connecting and working with each and every Council member to keep the conversation and support for the arts alive in Guelph.