Wednesday April 23, 2014

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Befuddled by disbandment



As a member of the arts community, I was befuddled by your Dec. 21 article on the disbandment of the District of Sechelt’s arts, culture and heritage advisory committee.

The most bizarre assertion was that Siobhán Smith has been hired to replace the committee. In truth, the committee strongly advocated for the creation of Smith’s arts coordinator position, which was first posted in spring 2011 by the previous council. Smith was hired early in 2012 and you ran a positive profile of her new role six months ago.

Clearly the decision by current council to disband the committee occurred more recently. Council’s in-camera decision may have been based on any number of factors, but either way, it seems a little unfair and incredibly awkward for Smith to then be put on the spot at a public meeting for her opinion of their in-camera decision.

Your statement that the coordinator’s salary “will be” $25,000 is the very same $25,000 you reported back on April 30, 2011 — the modest compensation Smith has received ever since she started. The 2011 article also stated the committee received “$26,000 for honorariums, supplies for arts events and programs.” Presumably this is what “will be” transferred to the arts coordinator in operating funds, since the $25,000 salary has already existed for over a year and a half?

The need for a local government cultural coordinator was identified in the 2007 regional cultural strategy. The previous council deserves credit for creating the position, and current council deserves credit for continuing it. Former members of the committee, too, can take pride in the programming/staffing legacy they built and recommended. The next logical step is for Sechelt to partner with the Town of Gibsons, Sunshine Coast Arts Council and/or regional district to expand this position’s scope and hours.

Silas White, Gibsons



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