Arts and cultural leaders in Coquitlam made their cases before city council this morning (Tuesday) to talk about how they fared during the pandemic and to ask for more money.
The operators of the Coquitlam Public Library, Place des Arts, Coquitlam Heritage Society and Evergreen Cultural Centre are requesting a combined $368,000 — net of one-time funding of $1 million — for 10 programs that would translate into a tax lift of 0.23 per cent, if approved.
City council will review their wish lists before the 2022 financial plan goes to first reading on Dec. 6.
Executive director Todd Gnissios and board chair Erin Adams are proposing to add three items to the operating budget plus a large capital cost:
- $55,000 to run the Library Link, a mobile library that reaches underserved neighbourhoods in Coquitlam
- $113,000 to adjust to the inflation rate
- $80,000 to improve the library’s collections
- $890,000 to replace the Library Link with a purpose-built vehicle
As a result, its total grant request, including the $5.7 million base grant from the city, is $6.9 million for 2022.
Adams said the Library Link was a “community lifeline through the pandemic” by providing reading and visual materials for residents.
But the library, which currently has two branches and will likely have a third when the Northeast Community Centre is built by 2026, also saw a huge uptick in its digital borrowing during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Gnissios also flagged to council that the library will be asking for an extra $80,000 annually for materials over the next five years to keep up with demand, as well as another $55,000 in 2023 for the new Link.
PLACE DES ARTS
Executive director Joan McCauley and board treasurer Matthew Sebastani said the Maillardville facility saw a big drop in registration and visitors during the pandemic, with last spring’s sessions cancelled.
And for 2022 and beyond, their aim is to rebuild the customer base and strengthen their staffing and partnership levels.
Place des Arts, which marks its 50th season next fall, is requesting $53,500 for a facilities and technology assistant on top of its base grant of $1.1 million for a total of $1,182,673.
McCauley said the proposed in-house position is needed as a staff member is currently doing the work in addition to their regular duties.
Executive director Candrina Bailey is requesting an additional $39,000 to increase the administration hours at Mackin House Museum, for a total grant of $346,679.
The funding, if OK’d, would pay for 12 more hours for the administration coordinator and five extra hours for Bailey, who currently works 20 hours a week.
Coun. Steve Kim congratulated the 21 society staff and volunteers for their outreach during the pandemic by providing displays and education kits, and developing an oral history program and community database.
Coun. Trish Mandewo also applauded the society for its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs.
Evergreen Cultural Centre executive director Philip Hartwick and board treasurer Andrew Richardson said the City Centre facility pivoted through the pandemic waves by moving many programs online.
The virtual outreach was a “silver lining” during the lockdowns, Hartwick said, and “this resulted in some really great innovations on behalf of our staff.”
For next year, Evergreen is asking for
- $26,494 to adjust to inflation
- $63,120 to create an education programs coordinator role
- $19,430 for drapery for the rehearsal hall (to be made in Burnaby)
for a total grant request of $1 million, with a base budget of $946,224.
Hartwick noted that with the health order changes, the capacity for shows and programs is now at 100 per cent “but we’re doing so in a very cautious way.”