Bloomington city council candidates asked: What are you going to do to combat white supremacy in your support of the arts?

widview group xy try IMG_3410Tuesday night at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, across from the derelict 4th Street parking garage, the audience filled a bit less than half the 132-seat auditorium. The performance was a political one, a two-act play of sorts, directed by Danielle McClelland, on behalf of a new arts group in town, called Arts Forward Bloomington.

Of the seven actors in Tuesday’s 90-minute drama, four are candidates in the two contested races for city council. The other three have their city council races already won, by default, with no opposition. District 2 and District 3 are the only areas of the city where elections will be held on Nov. 5.

Appearing on Tuesday for District 2 were Republican Andrew Guenther and Democrat Sue Sgambelluri. For the District 3 race, Democrat Ron Smith and independent Nick Kappas appeared; independent Marty Spechler did not attend.

McClelland said all candidates, including incumbents for clerk and mayor, were invited.

As executive director of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, McClelland is well-practiced in the duty of introducing a show. She told the audience that candidates would get five minutes each to respond to some questions, which they’d been given ahead of time. That was to be followed by questions from audience members, written on notecards.

Tuesday’s forum did not draw out much in the way of fundamental differences in candidates’ policies on public support of the arts. They all acknowledged the important threads that the arts weave into Bloomington’s social and civic fabric.

Their remarks featured a few mentions of the plan to expand the convention center. An expanded center could be a potential location for public art installations and a performance venue, they said. The night before, elected officials had gathered to meet about the planned convention center expansion—the existing one is a couple of blocks to the west of the Waldron Center.

The only overt politicking from a candidate came in response to the final question of the night on Tuesday, from the audience: What are Arts Forward Bloomington and the city council going to do to specifically to combat white supremacy in their support of the arts?
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