How Edmonton's next council will support arts and culture

· The Pulse
By Paul Blinov
in the Arts Roundup
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Elections often have the local arts community crossing their fingers, but the municipal election results in Edmonton should have artists (mostly) breathing a sigh of relief.

The city's mayor-elect, Amarjeet Sohi, is deeply supportive of the arts, with the rest of council at least warm to the sector, according to their responses to the Taproot Survey.

Sohi emphasized the city's arts community in his acceptance speech on Oct. 18, saying: "We will nurture arts and culture. In return, arts and culture will nurture us."

He included the industry as one of the focal points of his campaign platform, saying he would create a Mayor's Arts Advisory Committee to better understand the sector's evolving needs, as well as recommit to Connections and Exchanges, the city's existing 10-year arts and heritage plan.

Sohi's platform also said that he wants the next city budget to include a $1.2 million Arts Recovery Fund, to help artists still struggling from the impact of COVID-19 on the industry.

How Edmonton's next city council answered Taproot's survey question on the arts.

How Edmonton's next city council answered Taproot's survey question on the arts. Note: Karen Principe, elected in Ward tastawiyiniwak, did not fill out the survey. (Taproot Edmonton)

It looks like Sohi will have at least some support on council when it comes to his plans for the arts. Of the 12 elected councillors, three — Erin Rutherford, Ashley Salvador, and Michael Janz — answered the Taproot survey question, "How much should the city spend to help the arts sector recover from the pandemic?" by saying that they support spending more on the arts.

The rest — with the exception of Karen Principe, who did not fill out the Taproot Survey — said that current levels of support are sufficient. No one on the city's incoming city council said that Edmonton should spend less on the arts, though none of the other 55 candidates who completed the survey chose that answer either.

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.

You can see how candidates answered other questions on Taproot's survey and more here.