Arts programs targeted for surplus New West school funds

New Westminster School Board’s operations policy and planning committee have recommended that the board use $180,000 of surplus funding for arts programs in the district.

The recommendation was approved unanimously at a committee meeting on Tuesday, May 14.

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“It had come to the budget board meeting at the end of April with a recommendation as part of our budget process,” Mark Gifford, chair of the board and a member of the committee, said of the recommendation. “The board felt it deserved a little bit more time because we hadn’t actually had a committee meeting where we could get a full briefing from staff.”

Staff were able to provide information to the committee on the potential funding at the meeting.

“They gave a better understanding why in the near term it was better to draw on some surplus funding and inform some of our long-range strategy development around the arts,” Gifford said.

Gifford put forward the recommendation, which included three areas of funding.

It recommends $60,000 be used to create a district arts coordinator (0.5 full-time equivalent), $50,000 for rental costs for Massey Theatre and $70,000 to replace or repair fine arts equipment and supplies throughout the district.

“The district in New West has really found those roles to be very valuable in developing district-wide strategy and capacity,” said of the district arts coordinator.

“We’ve heard for a few years now concerns at school levels, and from parents and community partners around the need for additional support around the arts and the value of investing both in some of the building equipment considerations but also in some of the district staff capacity at the K-12 level,” Gifford said.

The recommendation goes to the board at the end of May.

“We wanted a decision by end of May so they [the coordinator] can be in place by Sept. 1,” Gifford said. “For next year we’ll be in a much better place to see what the staffing requirements might be to strengthen the role of arts in the district, as well as the other considerations.”

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