Chapel Hill Council candidates weigh in on the arts.

Part of ArtWork’s mission is to keep the arts and creative community informed on political and civic issues, so that you can be better engaged in those issues. Voting for candidates that are aware of the importance of the arts to our community’s economic future and quality of life is a large part of that. Following the success of our article on the Raleigh mayoral race last month, here is more voter information from ArtWorks.

ArtWorks writer, Lindsay Gordon, monitored forums and contacted the Chapel Hill Town Council candidates to determine their views on the importance of the arts to Chapel Hill and its future.   Frustrating to say, but only three of the candidates responded to her inquiries.  As always, we will let you infer what you want from the lack of response from the other candidates.  One thing this limited response makes clear is that ArtWorks has lots of work to do to increase the perception of the relevance and power of the arts community in our area….but I digress……

We did receive helpful responses from candidates Augustus Cho, Jason Baker and Lee Storow, and thank them for these responses.

Question: What is your position on the role of the arts community in the future of Chapel Hill and your position on public funding of the arts in general.

Augustus Cho (non-incumbent, Republican, find out more about Cho here)

“ Arts play an important function in any society.  The history of the arts clearly demonstrate how it can and has impacted the human quality of life.  Beyond that, having a successful arts program can be a positive economic engine – in terms of increasing revenue for the community. Cities/towns that have understood this have done well in bringing in art lovers to their part of the world resulting in a win-win situation.  You are welcome to ask Jeff York (Director of Public Arts for the Town of Chapel Hill) and he will confirm that I am a supporter of the arts as we have work together to bring it to the forefront.”

Jason Baker (non-incumbent, Democrat, find out more about Baker here.)

“I support the arts. I support our public art program, and am disappointed to have heard one of my fellow candidates say that the program would be his first priority for cutting if he is re-elected.  Chapel Hill’s artistic culture is an important part of the vibrancy we must protect in order to protect our long term economic vitality.  I subscribe to Richard Florida’s notion of the creative class being an economic driver for the kinds of new economy jobs that we want to attract and keep here in Chapel Hill.  In order to retain the best and the brightest, we need to make sure Chapel Hill is a diverse and exciting town, and to do this, we must protect the arts.  Our competitors aren’t just our local and regional neighbors, they are cities and towns across the country.  We need to find ways to keep our town competitive not just with Raleigh, Durham, or Greensboro, but with Austin, Seattle, and Ann Arbor.  The arts are an important part of this.  Our public art program does an awful lot on a shoestring budget.  The projects it has worked to develop make our downtown, our public buildings, our greenways, and our entire town a more exciting place to live.”

Lee Storrow (non-incumbent, Democrat, find out more about Storrow here)

“The arts are incredibly important in our community. Chapel Hill is lucky to have strong arts programs, from both the community and the university. In times of austerity, we need to find new ways for arts organizations to work together, and find ways for the town to support the arts.”

Again, we appreciate these responses and for these candidates’ support of arts in Chapel Hill.

Now, get out there and vote!

For complete information on all of the Chapel Hill Town Council and Mayoral candidates, as well as other voter information (such as precinct locations) for the November 8 Orange County elections, click here.  Learn about your candidates, and get out there and VOTE!

November 8 is also election day in Durham County.  As an all-volunteer organization, ArtWorks did not have a volunteer offer to research the Durham elections, but you can find information on the races and candidates, as well as information about how to vote here.

So, Durham and Orange County, get out there and be informed voters!

Do you have information that would be helpful for others voting in Durham or Orange Counties?  Feel free to provide it the comments below, or send us an email.

Information for this article was compiled by Lindsay Gordon.  Lindsay has her B.A. in English and Art History from the University of Florida and her M.A. in Art History from UNC Chapel Hill.  She enjoys writing about art and food on her blog, The Dilettantista and tweets occasionally at LindsayHGordon.  She was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida, and currently lives in Chapel Hill in an apartment run by a black cat named Dexter.

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