Provincial election: Candidates detail arts and culture platforms

Candidates in the Halifax Citadel riding respond to our survey.

So far there’s been little mention of arts and culture in this yawnfest of a provincial election—-a disappointing (but sadly not unexpected) follow-up to the federal election’s vocal and exciting “Vote Arts” campaign. Umm, where did everybody go? The momentum built up and died as quickly as the rallies scattered.

But that’s not to say that the arts community isn’t aware of the issues. Erika Beatty, CEO for Symphony Nova Scotia, and several other arts administrators have compiled their concerns, which we presented to four candidates in the Halifax Citadel-Sable Island riding; chosen because that’s where several of the province’s biggest cultural presenters, e.g. Symphony NS, Atlantic Film Festival, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, are located. We sent four questions to each of the candidates—their full responses are below.

What role does arts and culture play in the lives of Nova Scotians and what does the Creative Economy mean to you?

Ryan Watson, Green Party
The Creative Economy is the incredible richness that flows from a vibrant creative culture. The Creative Economy is also the economic support system that provides the resources for arts, culture, and creativity to flourish.

From the precision of creative thinking in academia to the inspiration of the arts, our creative resources are the energizing force behind our culture, our economy, and indeed all that we do.

Gerry Walsh, Liberal Party
In Nova Scotia, we are fortunate to have among us such a large community of talented musicians, actors, writers and artists working in all mediums. They enrich our lives and remind us daily of how fortunate we are to live and work in this beautiful province. The Nova Scotia Liberal Party believes that the Creative Economy not only contributes largely to our quality of life, but is an important and essential element of the economy as a whole.

Leonard Preyra, New Democratic Party
Nova Scotia has a long tradition in the literary, performing and visual arts, and a diverse and dynamic contemporary community. Our constituency, Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, has one of the most vibrant arts and culture communities in the country. Arts, Heritage and Culture enhance our quality of life and help to define who we are as Nova Scotians.

The sector has also become important to the economy, valued at $1.2 billion and employing more than 28,000 people across the province. The NDP understands the many cultural, social and economic benefits that come from adequate public investment in the arts, heritage and culture of our province.

Cuts to arts education threaten the next generation of artists. Increased costs for band, drama, dance and other cultural activities inside and outside public schools have put the arts out of reach for many Nova Scotians.

All Nova Scotians should have the opportunity to experience our arts, culture and heritage and understand the role they play in shaping our province and its communities. It is time to better ensure that our creative economy is preserved, protected and promoted for this and future generations.

Ted Larsen, Progressive Conservative
John Howkins highlighted this theory in his book, The Creative Economy, and suggests: “The creative economy is revitalising manufacturing, service, retailing and entertainment industries. It is changing where people want to live, work and learn—-where they think, invent and produce. The creative economy is based on a new way of thinking and doing. The primary inputs are our individual talent or skill. These inputs may be familiar or novel; what is more important is that our creativity transforms them in novel ways. In some sectors the output value depends on their uniqueness; in others, on how easily it can be copied and sold to large numbers of people. The creative economy brings together ideas about the creative industries, the cultural industries, creative cities, clusters and the creative class.”

Halifax Citadel is home to some of the biggest focal points of the cultural scene of our Capital. Whether it’s Symphony Nova Scotia, Neptune, the Rebecca Cohn and its many different offerings—-from local and international dance troops to Drum! or Joel Plaskett or the summer concerts at the Public Gardens. We have great talent in our local restaurants and bars, the Atlantic Jazz Festival, Word on the Street and Shakespeare by the Sea. What would Halifax be without the International Buskers Festival or the various performances on Citadel Hill, the Metro Centre and the many offerings of our incredible Art Gallery of Nova Scotia? It is this culture, along with our rich heritage that makes this city a vibrant place to be and thrive.

Our Creative Economy requires our vigilant support. The importance for investment is the arts and culture sector is no different than investing in a large corporation, a small family business or tourism—-there is a good return on investment economically. The difference is that an investment in this sector of our province means an even larger return in terms of our social identity...our heritage.

We have invested a great deal in our Come to life campaign. Nova Scotia Come to life unites the public and private sector to provide a strong, unified voice that tells the world about this province and the many advantages of living, working, investing, visiting and learning here. Charter members are businesses, organizations and associations that represent success across all sectors from across the province. Charter members play an important role in delivering the Nova Scotia message to employees, customers and suppliers here and around the world.

As the website notes of Nova Scotia: “Balance. It's something we all strive for, but seldom find. It is precious and rare and one of the strong qualities Nova Scotia has to offer. You can balance a workplace filled with exciting challenges, and a life outside of work that is rich and fulfilling.Through balance you can find harmony, one of Nova Scotia's most compelling advantages in a global economy.”

I believe that every blessing we have in Nova Scotia fuels the creative economy—-making us do things better, differently, at a healthier pace, while finding creativity in that balance and, eventually, bigger successes.

Will you uphold the promise made by the previous government to increase funding to the Culture Division of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, both in terms of dollars and timeline?

Green Culture and arts are integral to Nova Scotia's society. The Green Party supports increased funding for the Culture Division.

Liberal A Liberal government will not only double the culture budget based on 2008 funding; we will ensure that by 2010-11, $16.4 million dollars is budgeted annually to support cultural organizations and give them the financial stability they need.

NDP In 2007, the MacDonald government promised to double its investments in the cultural sector over the next three years. According to their most recent budget, funds have only risen by 30%—-another broken promise from the Conservative government.

Investing in culture just makes sense—-it is environmentally friendly, labour-intensive (creating jobs) and sustainable. There is much to be gained from targeted, sector-guided support for arts and culture.

You can count on the NDP to ensure that artists in Nova Scotia have the same respect and support as artists elsewhere in Canada, even though Rodney MacDonald’s Conservative government has put Nova Scotia in a difficult position. Despite an historic revenue increase of $1.3 billion over the last three years, the Conservative government now admits that it is already over a quarter of a billion short for this year. That MacDonald deficit is there now, no matter who wins the next election.

An NDP government will work with the arts community to achieve our common goals, within the context of balancing the budget.

Progressive Conservative In our 2009 election platform, the PC Party reiterated its commitment to fulfill the premier’s promise to double the 2006 level of funding for arts and culture in 2010. The new investments will be made in partnership with Nova Scotia's Arts and Culture Partnership Council—-the voice of our province's arts and cultural community. We are well on our way to complete this promise—- which equates to a 54% increase over three years and increased the budget in a very tough year by almost $1 million.

What steps will you take to provide incentives for the private sector to continue to invest in Nova Scotia arts and cultural organizations especially during the next six to 18 months? What steps will you take to enable the Nova Scotian arts and cultural sector to tap into stimulus programs?

Green Strengthening our creative sector requires a long-term plan and commitment. Deficit "stimulus" spending is not a sound model for government, and reliance on this spending is not a sound financing model for our creative sector.

The Green Party would convene an advisory group with representation from the arts sector, private sector and government to strengthen financial support for the arts through all the tools available, including direct government funding and tax incentives for private sector support.

Liberal A Liberal Government will immediately encourage growth and development of the economy across all sectors by reducing the small business tax from five percent to one percent, leaving more money in the hands of the arts and culture sector and allow for broad-based business investment.
We will also introduce microcredit lending that will be scaled appropriately to meet the needs of sole proprietors and small business. These loans will give the arts community further opportunities to expand their businesses.

NDP It took a generation of artists to build the arms-length Arts Council something that then-Culture Minister Rodney MacDonald took only one day to destroy in 2002. MacDonald claimed its elimination would result in administrative savings to invest in the arts. Instead, according to the Conservative government’s own figures, administrative costs have risen 56% since 2006.

The NDP will work to:
- Establish an independent Nova Scotia Arts Council for peer-reviewed arts grants in order to show confidence in the creativity of Nova Scotia’s vital arts and culture community.
- Investigate effective tax credits in areas of growth potential such as book publishing and new media on the basis of initiatives led by those industries.
- Keep a competitive film tax credit.
- Implement the recommendations of the Heritage Strategy as developed by Voluntary Planning.

Progressive Conservative Like any business, during a global economic recession, there are challenges. In fact, there is concern in difficult times like these that the arts and culture sectors would get side-lined because of the need to focus on basic priorities. However, as noted above, this is intrinsic to securing who we are as a province.

My government announced several months ago a $1.9 billion economic stimulus plan that will help to create and maintain 20,000 jobs. However, inside that plan are a great many important details as to where that investment will be directed to support the goal of moving the economy during this difficult economic time.

Through Building for Growth, a PC Government will direct $40 million towards tourism, culture and heritage: examples of investments include museum, park and waterfront development improvements. Our cultural sector supports 28,000 jobs and contributes $1.2 billion to the provincial economy. Heritage resources underpin both of these sectors and provide new development and learning opportunities for entrepreneurs and communities. Key investments in these sectors will produce immediate and visible benefits through the creation of jobs and spin-offs for local economies.

What other innovative public policies would you pursue to strengthen the creative capacity of the region? How can this dynamic sector help to strengthen tourism, education, community engagement, and the attraction and retention of young active community members?

Green The Green Party uses full cost accounting methods that measure what truly matters to Nova Scotians. By implementing full cost accounting in government, the value of the creative sector would become much more apparent, and we would have the tools for more effective decision making. The Green Party believes that full cost accounting would clearly demonstrate a very high return on investment for financial support for arts and culture, and we would allocate government funding accordingly.

There is no question that a vibrant creative sector strengthens our society, our economy, and the fabric of our communities. We all know that in the current economic climate our financial resources are limited. But our resources of creativity remain stronger than ever, and these are the resources that will build Nova Scotia's future.

Liberal A Liberal Government will appoint a Premier’s Multicultural Advisory Committee which will develop policies to promote cultural expression, acknowledge the contribution of cultural diversity and further cross-cultural understanding in an effort to reach out to all who choose to make Nova Scotia their home.

Liberals were appalled when the Conservative Government abolished the Nova Scotia Arts Council. Therefore, we will establish a new Nova Scotia Arts Council, where we believe that innovative ideas will naturally come from the creative minds of the arts and culture community and we look forward to engaging them on policy development.

The arts and culture sector already contributes largely to the success of the tourism industry, and we believe that with above mentioned small business incentives, they will be able to extend that contribution even further.

NDP Arts and culture has huge potential to create spin-off benefits in the wider economy of Nova Scotia. But many who work in it today are discouraged by political and bureaucratic control over funding. They watch as frustrated colleagues go “down the road” looking for better opportunities elsewhere.

The NDP are committed to helping emerging and established artists develop their talents by supporting artist-run cultural spaces, performance venues, and other initiatives to develop the infrastructure for Nova Scotia’s under-funded artistic communities. We will promote our creative economy and develop opportunities for the film, music, crafts, literary, publishing and performing arts to play a vital role in the 21st century economy of Nova Scotia. Music, film and other major cultural industries want to be sure they are engaged in developing the Province’s on-going cultural policies.

The NDP will also work to:

- Gradually increase provincial cultural spending to better match the per capita average of all provinces;
- Ensure museum funding matches the per capita average of other provinces.

Progressive Conservative Not only is this an economic issue, like a new school or recreation facility, a vibrant arts and culture community is evidence of a dynamic community which welcomes newcomers. It is a drawing card for bringing new citizens to our Capital and province.

Heritage and arts are intrinsic to community sustainability through their contribution to identity, cultural diversity, social cohesion and community participation. A PC government recognizes the importance of maintaining a sense of community and preserving our unique natural and cultural heritage. We have provided investment support and expertise to Nova Scotia cultural producers, organizations through grant programs.

Our party has also invested in the growing music industry through the Export Development Program for Music and the Emerging Music Business Program. The province has a service delivery agreement with the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council. The centre, including studio facilities and the Mary E. Black Gallery, offers training opportunities in craft and design as well as marketing/commercial opportunities. As well government works directly with cultural leaders through the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council to foster these important sectors.

Nova Scotia recognizes excellence in artistic achievement through award programs, including the Portia White Prize, the Prix Grand‑Pré, the Established Artists Awards, and the Community Arts and Culture Recognition Award.

We encourage the development of artistic excellence and stimulate interest in visual arts and crafts among Nova Scotians and visitors through the Nova Scotia Art Bank, which purchases work by established artists and lends work to provincial sites with public spaces.

We also support Nova Scotians studying in the arts by providing secretariat services and financial support to the Nova Scotia Talent Trust Scholarship Program as well as Investments in programs such as ArtsSmarts, Perform! and Writers In The Schools which place artists in the schools to work with children and provide opportunities for learning in the arts, as well as learning through the arts in all curriculum areas.

We facilitate Nova Scotia's participation in the Canada Games National Artists Program by providing financial investment, administrative and promotional support, coordination of artist selection and team coordination for this program.

In our platform, which can be found at, the premier committed to fulfill my commitment to double the 2006 level of funding for arts and culture in 2010.
‑ established an Office of Gaelic Affairs in Antigonish to develop and promote Gaelic language and culture in the province
‑ put in place the province's new immigration advisory council to seek advice on policies and programs to help the province attract and retain more immigrants
‑ heritage and arts are intrinsic to community sustainability through its contribution to identity, cultural diversity, social cohesion and community participation.
‑ we have supported the film industry with an increased investment for the training and development of producers, directors and writers and increased the film tax credit.
‑ adding close to a million dollars for culture.
- introduced the Digital Media Tax Credit

Nova Scotians have a unique and rich culture. It connects us to each other and to our past. Arts and crafts produced in our province for markets at home and around the world also helps drive our economy and provides a better quality of life. We should be proud of our rich cultural history—-and a PC government will do everything we can to promote it. A re‑elected Progressive Conservative government will support Nova Scotia's cultural sector to ensure it thrives and grows so that we continue to attract newcomers, repatriate Nova Scotians and retain our people—-young and young at heart.

In reaffirming his commitment to arts and culture funding this week, the premier announced a 'Culture and Arts for Kids' which will be designed to ensure all Nova Scotia children, regardless of income, have the opportunity to fully participate in the arts such as music, painting, theatre and dance lessons. The program will be similar to the 'KidSport' model which has enabled thousands of youth to take part in sport and recreation.

He said, “If we want to continue to grow our arts and culture sector, then we need to make sure everyone has the opportunity to take part. I have no doubt there are a lot of talented young people all over the province who just need the opportunity to take music or voice lessons or take an arts class. I want to make sure they get that opportunity.”

The Premier also promised an increased investment in cultural activities in communities across Nova Scotia with a focus on live performances, cultural promotion, artistic celebrations and symposiums, as well as language promotion and development and cultural diversity. He said cultural organizations across Nova Scotia including The Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design in Sydney, Neptune Theatre in Halifax, and live performance centres such as the Marigold Center in Truro and Astor Theatre in Liverpool will also benefit.

As he noted, “a strong arts and culture community is essential for a healthy and vibrant province. We should be proud of our rich cultural history, and my government will do everything we can to promote it.”


Green Party
Liberal Party
New Democratic Party
Progressive Conservative Party

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