Where the candidates land on helping the arts recover from the pandemic

Candidates are split when it comes to the Taproot Survey question of how much the City of Edmonton should spend to help the arts sector recover from the pandemic — but no one said the city should spend less.

Twenty-nine of the 67 who have answered the survey so far said it should spend more, including mayoral candidates Amarjeet Sohi and Kim Krushell. Cheryll Watson, Diana Steele, Michael Oshry, and Rick Comrie agreed along with 32 others that current support is sufficient, while Brian (Breezy) Gregg is the only mayoral candidate who said he didn't have a position on this issue, although, as a musician, he is one of the only artists in the field.

Among the incumbent council candidates, Moe Banga and Tony Caterina are in favour of spending more, while Aaron Paquette, Sarah Hamilton, Andrew Knack, Bev Esslinger, Jon Dziadyk, and Tim Cartmell said the current level support is enough.

The Edmonton Arts Council launched the Creators' Reserve grant program in April 2020 to support artists with funding of $500,000 drawn from existing budgets. In July 2021, city council approved the $1 million 2021 Festivals & Events COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program to help encourage the return of festivals and events.

A screenshot of how the mayoral candidates answered Taproot Survey questions on helping the arts and business recover from the pandemic

A breakdown of how Edmonton mayoral candidates think the city should help the arts sector and local businesses recover from the pandemic. Note that Vanessa Denman, Augustine Marah, and Mike Nickel have not yet answered Taproot's survey. Abdul Malik Chukwudi has since said he endorses Nickel. (Taproot Edmonton)

On a parallel question — How much should the city spend to help local business recover from the pandemic? — 34 candidates chose "It should spend more," including incumbents Banga, Caterina, and Paquette, as well as mayoral candidates Watson and Steele.

In comparison, 31 candidates said the current level of support for business recovery is sufficient, including mayoral candidates Sohi, Oshry, Krushell, Gregg, and Comrie, and incumbents Cartmell, Dziadyk, Esslinger, Hamilton, and Knack.

City council approved $5.3 million in financial support for local businesses in June 2020. The funds, which have already supported nearly 2,000 individual businesses, will continue to be available until funding is fully utilized.

Similarly to the arts sector, no candidates said the city should spend less on helping local businesses recover from the pandemic.

You can take the survey yourself to see how you align with the candidates on these and several other issues.