Kelowna mayoral candidate Bobby Kennedy speaks at an all-candidates forum on the arts and diversity in the city Wednesday as fellow candidates (back left) Tom Dyas and (back right) Colin Basran look on. —Alistair Waters/Capital News

Kelowna mayoral candidate Bobby Kennedy speaks at an all-candidates forum on the arts and diversity in the city Wednesday as fellow candidates (back left) Tom Dyas and (back right) Colin Basran look on. —Alistair Waters/Capital News

Kelowna mayoral candidates express support for the arts, diversity

But Tom Dyas and Colin Basran clash over the city’s financial support for arts groups

Arts and culture is the latest issue to divide the front runners in Kelowna’s mayoral race.

While challenger Tom Dyas says funding local arts groups receive has not increased in years, incumbent Colin Basran begs to differ.

On Tuesday, during a mayoral all-candidates forum that focused on the arts and diversity in the city, Dyas said budgets are getting tighter and tighter for art groups when they seek funding from the city, as well as the provincial and federal governments.

“The budget that the arts community has been given has not increased in a number of years,” said Dyas.

Despite a warning to candidates by forum moderators at the start not to engage each other in their answers, Basran veered off when it was his turn to speak saying he felt compelled to “call out untruths.”

“I know we aren’t supposed to make this a debate, but I have to call out untruths,” he said. “So I have to let everybody know that the arts budget in our community over our last term has actually increased by $400,000.”

The city annually awards grants to many local arts group that operate in the city, including two that Dyas said he personally supports, the Okanagan Symphony and Opera Kelowna.

The exchange was the only direct response either man made to each other during the forum, hosted by the Art Council of the Central Okanagan. It also included one of the other candidates in the four-man race, local skateboard shop owner Bobby Kennedy. The fourth candidate, retired city bylaw officer Bob Schewe, was sick and could not attend.

Kennedy said as the owner of a skateboard shop in the city, he is not only a strong personal supporter of the arts, but also supports them through his business and the work it does in the community.

Skateboarding, he said, is considered an art, not a sport.

Asked about how the city could help artists, especially those from marginalized parts of the community, Dyas said the key is to provide more space for them to not only create their art, but also to show it to the public. He said he learned about the need for more space by talking directly to a number leaders in the local arts community prior to the forum.

Kennedy agreed, saying one way the city could help would be by open up City Park to allow more street artists to offer their works there.

“Recently, our attitude towards street performers has been to eliminate them, to give them fines,” said Kennedy. “I don’t think we are being that inclusive to anybody, whether they are Indigenous or they are just an artist trying to get their (work) out there.”

Basran, who is wrapping up his first four years as mayor, said the city has been very supportive of the arts, noting the work it has done funding art groups, displaying art at the airport, supporting Culture Days and other arts initiatives and working with the Westbank First Nation to showcase aboriginal art in the community.

All three men talked about the positive impact the arts have on the city from both a social and economic point of view.

A recent study showed the arts generate $57 million in wages in Kelowna, employ more than 1,300 people and have an economic impact of $143 million.

The candidates were also asked about diversity in the city, specifically about their support for the LGBTQ community.

All three men said they would walk in the annual Pride parade if elected elected, but while Dyas said he would because it would be his responsibility as mayor, both Kennedy and Basran—a vocal supporter as mayor of inclusion for all regardless of sexual orientation—said they would continue to participate whether elected or not.

Dyas said while he has not marched in the past, he is closer to the issue than many may realize because a person very important in his life “chose a path of extreme diversity.”

“This person is a person I love, and straight forward to them I said ‘you will continually and forever have my love,’” he said. He did not identify the person or the relationship.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

The administrative headquarters for the Central Okanagan Public Schools. (File photo)
COVID-19 exposures confirmed at 2 Central Okanagan Schools

The infected individuals are self-isolating at home

Farming Karma is set to release a line of fruit vodka sodas soon. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna fruit growers expanding line of beverages

Farming Karma is expanding from fruit sodas to fruit vodka sodas

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read