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2007 Candidate Forum

Do Our Candidates Care About the Arts and Cultures of Anchorage?

Candidate Forum: March 2007 Alaska Wild Berry Theater



Mr. Whitekeys!

Anchorage Assembly

Section 2 Seat C: Eagle River/Chugiak
Bob Lupo

Section 4 Seat F: Midtown Anchorage
Jason Dowell - Elvi Gray-Jackson

Section 3 Seat D: West Anchorage
Matt Claman - Zareena Clendaniels - Jim Bailey

Section 6 Seat J: South Anchorage
Jennifer Johnston - Gary Hovanec

School Board

Chris Tuck - Ryan Sharratt

The Candidate Forum always provides surprises and engages in interesting subjects. Who, of the candidates, holds a library card? Who has been to the Anchorage Museum in the last six months? Who has visited the Alaska Native Heritage Center or attended an event celebrating one of Anchorage's vibrant cultures? With yes/no paddles, the candidates showed their colors.

In more complicated questions, we allowed candidates (sometimes just a few, sometimes all) to address issues related to arts and culture in Anchorage. The notes below, unless in quotation marks, are summaries of statements. We record them here to help you make an informed choice at election time and so that, when in office, we can see which of them acts according to the opinions they expressed here.

Art matters. Culture matters. These aspects of our community, sometimes to difficult to define, enrich and make Anchorage a place not only to eat, sleep, and work in, but a place to revel in, a place of pride.

(Click the question to see the candidates' answers below.)

From the opening statements:

Bob Lupo: "Never judge a book by its cover." A vet and chaplain and biker, Bob was an actor in college, winning several awards, and did standup for the USO.

Jason Dowell is a poet and musician. He thinks that teaching through myth and story is important.

Elvi Gray-Jackson said she was a "born artist."

Zareena Clendaniels went through the Anchorage public school system, graduating from West.

Jim Bailey helped start the School for the Arts in Anchorage and feels "art is part of the basic education program - not an extra." He wants to follow the model of San Francisco, which puts a small percentage of its bed tax toward arts and cultural funding.

Jennifer Johnston plays the bagpipes and sees art as a way to engage kids in education, like sports can.

Gary Hovaned played in the Cleveland Youth Symphony.

Chris Tuck went through the Anchorage public school system and played in the Anchorage Youth Symphony.

Ryan Sharratt "can't sing, dance or draw - but I can do numbers."

Q: What is your favorite work of public art in Anchorage? (Note: Some candidates were hard-pressed to think of a piece of public art in Anchorage.)

Jason Dowell: The sunset

Elvi Gray-Jackson: The Performing Arts Center building itself - both inside and out.

Matt Claman: The northern lights display at the ABC Elementary School, where his kids used to go to school.

Zareena Clendaniels: The flowers they plant each spring on Minnesota Drive - She waits each year to see what design will be there and welcomes them as a sign of summer.

Jim Bailey: The Sidney Lawrence painting of Mt. McKinley that used to hang in West High School and is now in the museum.

Jennifer Johnston: "I have grown to like some of the art on our roads, like the fishing poles on 11th Ave. I didn'tat first, but I like art the surprises you."

Gary Hovanec: The small museum in the Wells Fargo building on Northern Lights Ave.

Chris Tuck: The Sidney Lawrence painting at the museum - also the Wild Salmon on Parade sculptures that are around town in summer.

Ryan Sharratt: Ryan Sharratt: The "atlas guy" on top of the Fur Factory building downtown.

Bob Lupo: The veteran's memorial on the Park Strip, which he helped to create.

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Q: What would you do, if anything, to increase arts funding in Anchorage and make it sustainable?

Jennifer Johnston: I'm not sure I'd go after increased funding if I didn't think we could afford it as a community. Philanthropy can and should do more here. We have a skewed sense of entitlement - all of us should pay for arts and culture. Our philanthropic numbers are too low for a community of our size.

Gary Hovanec: Business sponsorships have fallen away in recent years and I don't see why. We should go to private businesses and ask how we can get more shows up here.

Chris Tuck: As a school board candidate, my primary mode would be to lobby the legislature. We need to fund education, and the arts are a part of that. Music instrument rentals, for example, need to stay low. We need to make it possible for all kids to participate.

Ryan Sharratt: We should lobby the members of the legislature who are artistic - we should contact people who have a personal connection to the arts. We also need to get businesses involved.

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Q: There are 90 languages spoken in Anchorage schools. How do you work to create a conversation between them?

Gary Hovanec: Everyone needs to learn, first, to speak English. I don't want to go to Wal-Mart and feel left out.

Jennifer Johnston: We need to start instilling pride in each of the cultures those languages come from. I've seen that start to happen in Native cultures. That pride moves out toward expansiveness and communication.

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Q: If you look ahead to Anchorage in 25 years, what will you have done for the arts?

Zareena Clendaniels: I will have gotten more diverse cultural groups involved in our community.

Jim Bailey: I will have gotten arts as an accepted form of education in the Anchorage school district - starting young and going all the way through high school. I'd like to see arts funding for the city more clearly delimited so that we know what is going where. We need to look at the bed tax and San Francisco - tax the tourists and put the money into culture and arts.

Chris Tuck: I hope to be completing my first musical. I'd like to see the Alaska Fine Arts Camp back up and running. I'd like to see a packed audience at this kind of arts-related forum.

Ryan Sharratt: Art doesn't go away, even if funding does.

Bob Lupo: I'd like to see a big outdoor amphitheater, like the Greeks and Romans had. A huge one where people can gather and see a show - all different cultural groups putting on performances.

Jason Dowell: I'd like to see private businesses putting beauty into the structures they build. Details on bridges, in hospitals, in the facade of the places we work and live.

Elvi Gray-Jackson: I will have gotten more diverse cultural groups involved in our community.

Matt Claman: I'd like to see the discussion not being "should we fund" but "what should we fund."

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