Arts strategy unveiled by White Rock city council

WHITE ROCK — After two years of collaboration between the city and the local arts community, the White Rock Cultural Strategic Plan is now a reality.

The plan began in 2011 as an idea to create a guiding document that would lay out in detail the city’s artistic and cultural direction from 2014 to 2018. To do so, the city established a cultural activity task force, which was composed of various members and stakeholders of the local arts community.

Claire Halpburn, the city’s manager of cultural development said the strategy was broken up into six key goals that would work towards ensuring a vibrant arts community and move White Rock into becoming a year-round destination for cultural tourism.

Read out by various members of the task force, the six goals were economic development through the arts, expanding partnerships, increasing arts and cultural infrastructure, developing diverse arts programs and festivals, promoting the value of arts and culture and finally, accountability.

Ideas presented from the strategy include requesting council explore the possibility of giving tax incentives to building owners who rent to arts organizations, working with BC Film to promote the city as a filming location, look into using vacant spaces for arts, establishing a summer concert series as well as buskers festival and creating public display shelters along the waterfront.

Pat McClean of the White Rock Player’s Club said as part of the plan, the committee would also like to see a marketing campaign to “showcase White Rock as an arts and cultural destination,” using methods such as travel brochures and local hotels to help get the word out.

Coun. Louise Hutchinson, chair of the task force, thanked everyone who helped put the strategy together.

“I was blown away by the offer of help from them throughout this whole process and they really took ownership of it, and you could hear passion in their voices,” she said.

According to Eric Stepura, White Rock’s director of leisure services, implementation of the plan would cost around $67,000 on top of the $10,000 already approved.

Stepura said the goal was to achieve that $67,000 within a three-year period, with a majority of it coming in the first year, and smaller amounts in the second and third. The funds would not include the $50,000 already set aside annually for the arts.

Coun. Helen Fathers said the money requested was “pocket change” in the bigger picture, especially when it came to promoting and expanding the arts community.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin praised all who contributed to the report and said it would be important for them to continue to come back to the future council to keep making sure the strategy is being implement properly.

“We’re going to count on you and staff to make sure you’re the memory of council and prodding us to ensure we do this,” he said, noting that council could change following the Nov. 15 election. “You should be there pushing the council of the day to say these things must be done.”

Finally, Stepura said throughout the process, one of the best things to come out of it was having a chance for the various stakeholders to come together to form a focused cultural vision for the community.

“This process with the task force, in my mind, is one of the single greatest benefits that’s come out of this strategy, the cohesion among the arts community that never existed before this time.”

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