An international outdoor art exhibit slated for Squamish is on a shaky pedestal.
Last year, Vancouver Biennale proposed that the District of Squamish partake in the renowned art program, allowing famed Brazilian artist Vik Muniz to create a public art piece in town. Council backed the idea, committing $20,000 toward the 2014-'15 outdoor art show.
Nine months later, the initiative was back at council's table with an additional artists-in-residence program and increased budget.
The total cost of the multi-faceted event is estimated at $165,000, municipal financial planning manager Christine Mathews said during district budget discussions on Tuesday (Jan. 21). That covers up to 20 international artists' six- to eight-week stays in Squamish while they work on projects. It also includes additional art installations.
That represents a big departure from the original proposal, Coun. Ron Sander said.
“We all believed $20,000 would be close to the end point,” he said, noting the project now has a considerably different scope.
Sander suggested council stick with the initial plan and ensure they do a good job of it. It's difficult to justify handing such a large sum to the art exhibit when the proposed 2014 budget comes with a zero per cent municipal tax increase, he said. Council currently faces having to cut social services, Sander noted.
Historically the arts community has been overlooked in Squamish, Coun. Patricia Heintzman said. The program would feed into positive economic development, she said.
“I think there is huge value in this,” Heintzman said. “I think there is an opportunity to leverage this.”
Heintzman questioned the numbers in the staff's report. She suggested some of the costs, such as signage, could be shaved off. She requested municipal staff come back with a more in-depth look at the dollar amounts.
Council elected to park the issue for later discussions, at which time municipal officials would provide a better breakdown of the costs.