Opinion: Open letter to council

Opinion letter

fter reading in the June 29, 2011, Sooke News Mirror newspaper that just two artists won the boardwalk signage project contest, I request a public explanation to the following questions, please.

Where in your Community Charter is described that council had the right to alter the Municipal Arts Program 2009 Policy as they did without going through the legal voting process?

Where on the district charter is it stated that council had the right to re-appoint members who are directors of a beneficiary group as members for the Sooke Program of the Arts Committee (SPA)?

Therefore, according to the Municipal Arts Program 2009 Policy – adopted on January 26, 2009, and to the Committee Structure and Function Policy, 2006, adopted on November 28, 2006, and amended on January 12, 2009, council did not have such rights.

First, you could not have modified/split the $7,000 boardwalk signage project in two portions of $3,500 to avoid appointing a public jury? The boardwalk project’s cost was $7,000, as you personally described to me on April 26, 2011, during the financial plan meeting. This number is also stated on the 2011 budget as “transfer out” to the SPA and it as well appears on the SPA’s March 2011 minutes. The municipal arts program 2009 policy – clause 3.0 clearly indicates: “temporary Public Arts Juries, […] will select art for larger public art commissions where the project is equal or greater than $5,000 in project value.”

Second, council could not have re-appointed during consecutive years three Sooke Fine Arts’ directors perfectly knowing they were in conflict of interest. The Sooke Community Charter clearly states that a committee member cannot be “[…] a director, member or employee of an organization seeking a benefit from the District of Sooke upon which the committee will make a recommendation.”

Last, due to council and to the SPA’s blatant circumvention 12 artists saw their chance for some recognition, exposure and monetary help disappearing from their hands. The “Call to Artists” was placed on the newspapers only 13 days prior to the contest deadline date, June 8, 2011, and only those artists knowing about the contest from other sources had time to present their portfolios, such as one of the winners and a member’s husband.

Conclusion, in the name of art and justice, I request two things from council: a) for the competition to be re-opened and a public jury to be appointed, b) for the directors of the Sooke Fine Arts Society to be dis-appointed from the SPA’s committee.

P.S. The Sooke Fine Arts Society is the group which will be soon presenting to council their new and extremely expensive project for final approval, the Cultural Mapping Project. However, because facts indicate that this project is apparently very dear to council, $397,684 have been already put aside as a reserve fund for the SPA to use in the next four years, members of this organization cannot be entitled to act as SPA members.

Last, I would like to recommend council to consider taxpayers’ money by joining other municipalities on the Cultural Mapping project. The City of Victoria is also creating their plan and it has the same population rate than the mapping project’s model, the City of Hamilton.

Margarita Dominguez

Sooke