Arts council needs service extension with City of Powell River

Councillors to consider agreement renewal

City of Powell River councillors will consider a one-year extension of its agreement with Powell River Council for Arts and Culture.

At the November 26 finance committee, councillors heard from director of properties, development and communications Scott Randolph, who outlined the recommended renewal of the agreement, which contains several services. These include:

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· A cash grant of $25,000 to fund the arts council’s operations as allocated by the city in its annual budget in the fiscal year 2019. The amount of cash grant from the city to fund the council’s operations were reduced to $9,000 in 2020.

· An annual cash grant of $10,000 to be distributed by the council to eligible community organizations and projects

· An annual grant-in-kind for use of city facilities, having a value of up to $20,000 for arts, culture or heritage programs, activities or events for eligible organizations and projects

· An annual grant-in-kind equivalent to an amount equivalent to rent payable ($31,420.99) by the council under a lease with the city for the premises located above Powell River Public Library

Randolph said the agreement was set to expire on December 31, 2020. He said in 2019 the city entered into an agreement with the arts council for a two-year term. Council had asked that it be limited to a two-year term in order to give the arts council time to put together a business plan for city council’s review before entering into a new agreement.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put a crimp in a lot of plans and has had a negative impact on activities for the arts council as well,” said Randolph. “In light of that, they don’t have a business plan ready for review and have asked for more time in order to do so. In light of this, staff are recommending a one-year extension to allow them to complete that business plan in a timely fashion for council’s review and further conversation.

“Staff is also recommending that the funding levels in the 2021 fiscal year be the same as those provided in the 2020 fiscal year.”

Councillor Cindy Elliott said she was in favour of this extension. She said she had attended a recent arts council board meeting and was impressed.

“The board is robust, they have new members and they have new energy,” said Elliott. “They have a draft business plan, which is not to the level we want to see it. They have identified assistance in helping them get further along through the Community Futures organization. They seem to be very capable and I have no doubt that given some extra time, they will bring us a plan for success, which is really important to our community.”

Elliott said COVID-19 has hampered the arts world and the people in it.

“It’s a mainly volunteer organization, and since COVID-19, it has made it very difficult for all people to function the way they used to,” said Elliott. “We need to provide leniency for volunteers during this time.”

Randolph said his office is also committed to helping the arts council with getting a business plan to the expected level. He said the arts were a very important part of the economic makeup of the community, as well as social.

Mayor Dave Formosa said he was pleased there would be help for the arts council to formulate a business plan.

“I’m very happy to support this based on that,” said Formosa.

Councillor Jim Palm said a lot of resources have been put into arts and culture in the Powell River region and this has become an arts and culture centre as a result. He said COVID-19 has hit the arts and culture community heavily and he’s glad to see the initiative to extend the agreement for another year.

Committee chair George Doubt said distribution of grants is a task the arts council assumes on behalf of city council.

“The arts council is making sure the grants are relevant and do what council wants them to do, which is to promote arts and culture,” said Doubt. “They add a valuable dimension to the city and its economic development. I support this and think extending it a year, considering the times, is a good thing to do, but hopefully we can improve the agreement for the future when we renew it next time.”

Council will consider renewing the agreement at its December 17 meeting.

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