Through Saturday, we will run Q&As with Columbia mayoral candidates Steve Benjamin and Kirkman Finlay focusing on three key areas: public safety and services; quality of life issues; and ideas for change. Previously published Q&As are online at http://thestate.com/elections
The runoff is Tuesday. Any registered voter may participate.What should be the city's role in funding art and cultural activities?
Benjamin: We must capitalize on the wealth of talent and rich cultural resources in our midst. Those resources, if supported, will jump-start cultural tourism and economic development as they have in other cities. As mayor, I will chart a strategic vision with key stakeholders to best utilize these resources and keep the promise council made to the people by making sure hospitality tax funds are used as they were intended - for the arts and tourism.
Finlay: All great cities have great art and cultural institutions that add to the quality of life. Columbia's funding for the arts needs to be focused on creating new venues and infrastructure while maintaining our existing venues and collections. A second focus is to find ways to encourage new and emerging artists by providing resources so their works can be seen, appreciated and purchased by locals and visitors.