Editorial: Arts, culture necessary for us to thrive

An arts, culture and heritage event in the Alberni Valley showed that the arts sector cannot thrive on volunteerism alone.

We need arts, culture and heritage in our city, but the arts needs our help too.

That seemed to be the overarching theme of Saturday’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Event at Echo Centre.

More than 200 people came out to the centre to voice their opinion and listen to others’ points of view on arts, culture and heritage in the Alberni Valley. Many of those people spoke about how this sector cannot thrive on volunteerism alone—and supported spending municipal tax dollars on our city’s culture.

The event began as a way to figure out how to continue operating the Alberni Valley Museum. The Judy Rogers management report released a year ago suggested an alternate delivery method would be ideal, and recommended  moving in that direction as soon as possible.

But Saturday’s event quickly turned into so much more: a defence of arts and culture in the region, and a statement that these things matter.

According to the federal government’s Canadian Heritage branch, more than 630,000 people have jobs in arts, culture and heritage sectors, translating into $54.6 billion in Canada’s economy. That’s a pretty big slice of the economic pie, and the Alberni Valley is not immune to it.

Bob Steele, an associate professor Emeritus at the University of BC, says visual arts are a form of literacy: that children use art as a form of expression. ‘It begins with scribbles which have no connection to language but becomes language by being used intentionally to represent persons and things with thoughtfulness and feelings,’ Steele writes in The Drawing Path for Children, a discussion paper on the importance of art education in schools.

Let’s hope this Alberni Valley event speaks clearly to municipal leaders.