Response to question regarding arts governance in Burlington

Thanks to James Lockridge of Big Heavy World for posing the question:  “I hope for more inclusive goals for how tax monies support the arts and for a transparent public process that lets people from Burlington play a role in deciding the city’s arts mission, policies, and planning. Do you feel the current arts governance could stand improvement, and if so, what would the best strategy for that be?” and giving city council candidates a chance to answer in addition to the mayoral candidates.

Here the response that I sent him:

While I have heard some information about Burlington City Arts there is still a great deal I do not know.  At this time my opinions are based on the subjective experiences of others, some of those experiences good and others negative.

I too would like to see transparency in any assessment of programs and use of tax monies.  I also think that it is important to clearly define what is meant by transparent.  The goal of “transparency”, while important, is used so often and has lost its meaning.  I would love to see the city set up a process, including leaders in the arts community in the development of that process, to assess BCA.   I would like to have that process shared with the public through updates on what will happen, updates as they happen, and what outcomes were found when the process is complete.

At this time it makes sense to me that there be a review of BCA’s mission and the goals of their various programs to assess if that mission and those goals are currently being reached.  I was excited to see the recent announcement of the creation of the Vermont Creative Network by the VT Arts Council, Champlain College Emergent Media Center, The Vermont Department of Libraries, and the Vermont Downtown Program of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, to address the need for collaboration and strengthened relationships between different sectors of the arts.  I think this could be a fantastic model to follow for increasing BCA’s reach.  I would like to see if the work at BCA is now integrating or could help facilitate integration in our community among some who are isolated from others.  One of the reasons I’m running for city council is to help increase the engagement of citizens in government, and that extends to BCA and Burlington’s fantastic arts scene.  It is the cultural lifeblood of the city, and without true understanding of the resources city government is putting into the arts and how those resources are being used, we may be missing an opportunity to engage many in our community who could benefit as well as for potential partners to join in and increase the reach of the work.

My response and those from other candidates are available on his blog.


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