Kelowna’s mayor cites his city’s support for the arts

Speaking at the annual Mayor's Breakfast, Colin Basran says support for the arts takes many forms.

The arts were in the spotlight Thursday morning during the annual Kelowna Mayor’s Breakfast.

The event, staged by Studio 9, a local school for the arts, gave Mayor Colin Basran an opportunity to extol the virtues of the city’s support for the arts and also for municipal technology now in place that is helping the arts grow in Kelowna.

While Basran spoke of funding for professional and community arts organizations, such as Ballet Kelowna and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, he also highlighted his city’s attraction for companies involved in the arts looking to locate new offices in the B.C. Interior.

One company, Bardel Animation, recently opened an office here employing 50 animators and staff, he said.

Basran said the company plans to double the size of its workforce here over the next six months.

Bardel is one of Canada’s largest animation studios, and the mayor said one reason it located here was the availability of ‘dark fibre’ technology to move large amounts of date electronically.

But with the technology that exists today, he said companies such as Bardel, and others such as the Disney animation studio located in the Landmark high-tech campus of buildings across from the Parkinson Recreation Centre, have many options about where to set up shop.

So lifestyle becomes an important aspect in the development of locations for arts-related businesses. To get them here, Kelowna has to play to its strengths and offer a better quality of life for a company’s employees. That is done through a myriad of opportunities available here, said the mayor.

As for artists, Basran said this area is rich with them and the city is trying its best to support them, recognizing their work is integral to the success of the city as a popular destination for both visitors and people looking to move here.

“Arts and science is essential to all we do,” said Basran. “They contribute to the quality of life here and quality of life is what we, at the city, are all about.”

His city, he said, annually spends about $2.5 million on arts services.

The mayor also spoke about the very successful ArtsVest program that acts to link the business community with local arts groups in a bid to raise more money for the arts in this area.

Basran said he hopes to see the program return here for an unprecedented third year in 2017.

This year, ArtsVest was responsible for raising more than $700,000 in sponsorship funding for local arts organizations.