Jacquie Furtner

1. Please share any relevant employment or volunteer experience you have in the arts and culture sector.
I have a diploma in Interior Design and have spent 6 years operating barebirch, a home décor business. We have supported local artists in our store whenever the opportunity arises. Our built environment impacts our ability to be active and connect with our community and I will continue to advocate for art in public spaces.

2. What concrete actions would you recommend/support to improve the atmosphere & aesthetic of the downtown?
Negative perceptions and lack of connection are barriers we have to overcome. Aesthetically, making small incremental improvements that build on each other to create a more appealing space is the best way to go. It is financially sustainable and can include initiatives to work around landmarks as well as improve the streetscape, such as: working with building owners and businesses to improve their facades, programmed public spaces, public washrooms, outdoor cafés and inviting gateway signage.

3. What specific actions do you recommend for preventing another situation such as that with the Tom Thomson Gallery?
I have been advocating for more collaboration amongst the city, its committees and the public. If we are all working together, there are more opportunities for catching potential problems.

4. Where do you feel Owen Sound’s greatest opportunities lie for promoting our arts, community and cultural assets?
We should start by creating an arts and culture development policy followed by an action plan. Once we compile a list of our current art and culture assets as well as define what our values are moving forward, we can determine what we can build on and what the priorities are. We can then initiate a cultural tourism strategy. As the vice chair of the OSDIA, I have recommended a rebrand of downtown. I truly believe leveraging the arts and culture in our community is our best option to provide a higher quality of life for our population as well as to attract tourism. We need to support and work with our artists, galleries, music venues, festivals, the Roxy and more. Arts and culture bring people together, are available to all socioeconomic individuals and permit participation by all.

5. In your own words, what is a City councillor’s role in protecting, promoting and growing healthy communities?
Listen to what the community needs, build connections, create policies that support everyone and promote a healthy and safe community. This can include encouraging affordable housing, accessible transportation, accessible recreation and a socially cohesive atmosphere.

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