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Update: A member of the Quinte Arts Council weighs in…

By Bevan Hamilton

BELLEVILLE – As part of the QNetNews Municipal Election Project, one of the communities we’re targeting is the arts community. QNetNews reporter Bevan Hamilton spoke with Quinte Arts Council board member David Vaughan via email. What follows is some excerpts.

Vaughan says he would like to see more attention and funding paid to promote the arts community in Belleville. He expressed a desire to see more invested in the arts.

“I would like to see a more concerted effort to increase and leverage the impact of tourism in local communities. (Belleville needs) more attention and funding paid to create and promote festivals, events and the arts. We want to make our unique communities attractive for residents to stay and prosper, and for tourists to visit and spend, and visit again.”

Vaughan says Belleville should be “putting out the red carpet for potential tourists and supporting our local events and facilities so they do come here, visit and spend, return home and spread the word.”

“Tourism isn’t taken seriously enough, especially the artistic side of it. Everyone always rolls their eyes like it’s a waste of money, a luxury we can’t afford when it’s bigger than agriculture, forestry and fishing combined,” Vaughan said.

Vaughan goes on to say, “arts and culture is an overlooked, under-estimated and untapped solution to many economic and quality-of-life issues.”

“I feel that artistic endeavours, whatever they are, round a person out and enrich whatever else they do in life. It’s proven that every part of your life, health to education, is improved when it includes some sort of discipline or exposure to art. Obvious spin-offs are better performance at school, less drop outs, more exercise, less drain on health care, welfare and less locking people up from sheer boredom. What are our leaders doing for everyone else? The arts and everything connected to it generates money, and it saves money. It creates an overall better community and environment as well. We should be investing in people. Everything else comes from there,” Vaughan says.

Vaughan also cited youth engagement and the environment as other issues Belleville city council should be concerned with.

“An area that needs increased effort is activities and opportunities for youth in our communities. Let’s give them something to do and reasons to stay and flourish in their hometowns.”

Vaughan referred to the soon to be launched Napanee Innovation Academy as an example. He said the academy is aimed at engaging youth in new technologies like 3D printing and mentoring their entrepreneurial ambitions. Vaughan feels an institution like that would benefit Belleville youth.

Regarding the environment, Vaughan said solar power incentives for both private and industrial sectors should be increased and promoted.

“It doesn’t matter how frequently or efficiently the garbage gets collected if there is no planet to start with.”