Question 1: What steps would you take to prioritize arts funding at a civic level?
STEPHEN ANDREW: I intend to work with fellow councillors in Victoria and across the Capital Regional District to increase funding to the Arts at a civic level.
It is important that we look “way” back to Victoria Arts Manager report from 1999 that called for stable and increased funding levels for artists and our arts community.
We should adopt best practices and I will champion models such as Winnipeg that finds ways to ensure that commercial productions benefit local arts. Within my first six months I will introduce a motion that a “local arts endowment” fee be placed on all commercial productions and that money be placed in a fund to establish additional funds to support the work of our talented artists.
Question 2: Artists not only represent a significant portion of the Greater Victoria region constituents, but we are also chronically under-employed and experience barriers to meeting the cost of living in this city ... how would you address this growing problem of keeping Victoria housing and studio rents affordable for artists living and working in this city?
STEPHEN ANDREW: Having lived this situation where I worked for an arts company in Victoria that frequently did not pay employees on time, wrote cheques that did not clear the bank and expected hours of volunteer work, I know the challenge this brings.
There are solutions.
According to CMHC housing starts are down 64% this year over last year. So, while it may seem that there is “rapid densification”, the reality is that not enough housing is being built to meet demand, which is driving the price of available housing up. We need more varied housing, not just single-family homes, or condos. We need to address the missing middle of our market which are attached homes, small plexes, townhomes, and stacked townhomes. We need to densify transportation corridors and create incentives to build housing that is affordable by ensuring an affordable component in developments and explore alternative housing structures, such as co ops and non-market or partial market builds. We can moderate price pressures by adding to inventory, as we’re seeing in the rental market now as there is a slight oversupply of rental housing coming online.
Question 3: What have you done in your work/life experience that aligns with an arts-friendly city?
I arrived in Victoria to work as a Stage Manager on the Kaleidoscope Theatre production of “The Wizard of Earthsea” – it changed my life and my home. I love Victoria and its diverse Arts community. I have directed, acted in, and produced many, many theatre productions in Victoria and across Vancouver Island. I have donated my time to helping community theatre groups. Raising thousands of dollars for theatre companies and I created the Thrifty Foods Family Concert Series. I also served as the Managing Director of the Victoria International Children’s’ Festival. I also wrote and directed two fundraisers for Kaleidoscope. I mention these points, not to grandstand, but to show my commitment and to let people know, who likely are not aware of my passion for the Arts. Thank you for this opportunity