Pitt rebuffs arts council

Puts $25,000 into the City of Pitt Meadows arts budget to be used by the city’s own staff for arts.

Pitt Meadows council is going it alone in the arts, on Tuesday denying a request from the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Arts Council for $10,000.

Instead, Pitt Meadows will allocate $25,000 as a budget to be used by the city’s own staff for arts.

Coun. Janis Elkerton made the motion, noting the city hired an arts, heritage and culture coordinator, but that staff member has no budget to work with.

“We need to be looking at what we can do to promote our community,” she said.

The motion was supported by her council colleagues.

Mayor John Becker said Pitt Meadows is still paying $32,000 to the arts council to provide arts programming, such as dance, theatre, visual arts classes at the South Bonson Community Centre, until the end of 2017.

However, Pitt Meadows denied the request for funding for member services.

“We just need to get on with a made-in-Pitt Meadows leadership for arts, culture and heritage,” Becker said.

“You have ended a 45-year relationship with the arts council,” its president, Korleen Carreras, told council during question period at the end off the meeting.

“I’m devastated. My heart is broken. You talk about made-in-Pitt Meadows, I am made in Pitt Meadows. I live in Pitt Meadows. I was, until tonight, a very proud resident of Pitt Meadows,” she added.

“I think it’s devastating what you have done to the arts community. You have told our members who are made in Pitt Meadows that you will not support them in the work that they do. That is devastating to our community and to the arts community.”

Lindy Sisson, executive and artistic director of the ACT, said she had been looking forward to working with the city’s new staff member, who could be supported by the non-profit arts council.

“We’re not the enemy. We’ve been your friend for 45 years,” said Sisson.

She said arts council members are citizens, groups, artists and businesses who all benefit from services they provide, including promotion, member communications and group grants.

“Are we really going to have to ask people where they live before we provide that service?” she asked.

Sisson added that there are numerous groups who have been caught between Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows city halls as they break long-term agreements and partnerships.

“This divorce between the two cities has been extremely difficult on all of those groups,” said Sisson.

While it is difficult for groups to change their mandate, Sisson said they also can’t provide services to both cities if the two don’t support their work.

Maple Ridge ended the partnership between the two cities for parks and recreation, and for tourism. The two cities were at odds on managing the Pitt Meadows airport, and Pitt Meadows asked Maple Ridge to back out of the airport society. However, they both remain involved.

Coun. Tracy Miyashita voted against her council colleagues.

“This is not about autonomy or being separate from Maple Ridge. Itss about providing the best services that we can for our citizens,” she said, adding the arts council has done an “outstanding job” providing arts services to both communities.

“I don’t think that we’re at the point in our community where we can do that on our own just yet that yet.”

Coun. Bill Dingwall also voted against the motion, saying it would be worth the cost to maintain the relationship with the Arts Council.

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