10/18/2015 09:58 EDT | Updated 10/18/2016 05:12 EDT

Why You Should Consider Arts and Culture Policy When You Vote

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Close up of orchestra conductor holding baton

Arts and culture has become a sector in the Canadian economy that has developed into a need to have versus a nice to have.

Over recent years, many Canadians have quickly understood the value of the billions of dollars the sector pours into the economy, the hundreds of thousands it employs, the millions that participate within it, and how it enables us to share the values of this country.

This election, its place in how we grow has a country has been very top of mind.

The message is clear. A thriving arts and culture sector is good news for everyone.

As you consider your vote on Oct. 19, we wanted to provide some insight on the key policy promises the federal parties have made, and how they will impact you.

The positions of the top four parties are here. In terms of investment and priority, it should be clear which party has stepped up to deliver transformative commitments.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Jeff Melanson, President and CEO, Toronto Symphony Orchestra who recently hosted an election edition of Sunday Night with the TSO, whereby party representatives had their chance to discuss their views on the role of arts and culture in their lives and the lives of Canadians.

Why should a progressive policy on arts and culture matter to voters in an election with so many other issues to consider?

Arts and culture is important to every voter as we all participate in creative endeavours each day. Our designers clothe us, our planners structure our cities, our musicians regale us everywhere, our dancers inspire us with movement. We are all artists and the more we can awaken creative potential in each and every Canadian, the better our quality of life and socio-economic conditions will be.

What are the three things Canadians should wish for in a federal party and their vision for this sector?

Well, there are way more than three things. If I had to choose, I would personally like to hear more about arts education, commissioning support and engagement strategies from all of our politicians. As with sport, inclusivity and access should be paramount when considering arts policy in my view.

Many will say that arts & culture is part of a growing creative economy. True?

Of course. This is always true. As Warren Buffett once said: "I am not a business man, I am an artist." I would like to think we could all see ourselves as co-designers of our future societies and economies.

There is a movement to create entrepreneurs within the creative sector as a long term strategy. Agree? And if so, how can we do this?

I think the point should be trying to create more meaning and understanding. Economics should follow passion and vision in all things.

We live in a country where sports seems to be king. How can we bring the arts up the ladder?

Sports are important, but far more Canadians attend arts activities than sporting events in our country. It would certainly help if we showcased more Canadian artistic content on traditional media platforms. Sport gets much more coverage and we should expect more on the arts (both reporting and disseminated content).

After listening to all the parties' answers, what were the comments that stood out for you?

It strikes me that all parties are supportive but to varying and quite different degrees.

To listen to the podcast, please click here.


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