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Here's what it's going to cost to boost Port Moody's profile as 'City of the Arts'

PORT MOODY — Port Moody got its brand as City of the Arts more than 20 years ago.
Coast Salish artist James Harry stands by as his new sculpture, Lháẃḵem, is given a traditional Coast Salish blessing. The work was recently unveiled at 50 Electronic Ave. in Port Moody.

Port Moody will establish a new arts and business council with the goal of boosting the community's brand and reputation as "City of the Arts."

The initiative is expected to cost about $150,000 a year, much of that going toward the salary of an executive director, although the amount would be phased in over the first two years.

"It can't be a volunteer position if we want to make progress," said Coun. Samantha Agtarap, who pitched the idea at a council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, along with Coun. Kyla Knowles as part of some key recommendations to come out of a task force struck last April by Port Moody Mayor Meghan Lahti to bring together the city's arts and business communities.

Knowles said the new council wouldn't just develop relationships and partnerships, it would also engage with Port Moody's residents, artists and business community and source opportunities for grants and funding.

"We need to lean into our 'City of the Arts' and embody it in actions and outcomes," added Agtarap.

Port Moody sign
The "City of the Arts" slogan can be seen on Port Moody's welcome signs as people enter the municipality, like this one along Barnet Highway (7A) heading west. By Stefan Labbé, Tri-City News

In September, the task force presented several "quick win" ideas that could be accomplished readily by staff. They included:

  • create a policy for art panels on fencing around developments and city projects
  • review and update the city’s public art policy
  • establish an arts-based community grant program
  • explore the creation of a program that would allow businesses to hold classes in park space for free, if they’re not charging for the class
  • look into allowing not-for-profit and community-based organizations to use civic spaces, including parks, for free or at a reduced fee
  • examine a reduction of business license fees for artists, or even offering them for free

It also identified several ideas to help breathe life into the City of the Arts brand like:

  • develop an inventory of outdoor, public and private spaces that are under-utilized and could be repurposed for arts-based uses
  • create a street art program
  • re-establish or create additional events and festivals, like a mural festival
  • build partnerships and collect stories
  • identify experiences that will define the City of the Arts
  • work to secure more spaces for artists in new development and through developers’ community amenity contributions

Lahti said the recommendations make sense.

"If you want to be the City of the Arts, you've got to put your money where your mouth is," she said, adding it will be up to council's finance committee to determine where that money comes from.

Coun. Callan Morrison agreed.

"We've got to take the City of the Arts seriously."

Port Moody's City of the Arts brand was created more than 20 years ago by local arts advocates Elizabeth Keurvost and the late Ann Kitching. They thought the slogan would help boost the arts and tourism in the city.

But a survey conducted in 2021 found almost a quarter of respondents wanted the slogan altered or changed from Port Moody’s vision statement.