The ArtsVote Niagara 2006 test case survey of St. Catharines and Niagara Regional Council candidates was created by the Executive Committee members with limited input from local artists. In future, and with more time, ArtsVote Niagara will invite a much broader input from the cultural community in the formulation of questions. ArtsVote Niagara also will invite Arts Monitors from throughout the Niagara Region to keep a record of votes on issues of interest to the creative community in Niagara.
In the 2006 municipal election campaign, a link to a SurveyMonkey survey was emailed at least twice to candidates and a hard copy version of the SurveyMonkey survey was mailed to candidates. The values for each of the responses to the survey questions were established by the ArtsVote Niagara Executive Committee in collaboration with the founders of ArtsVote in Toronto. Values were assigned to the answers by ArtsVote Niagara and then ArtsVote Toronto experts were asked to recommend values independently. The two sets of values were compared and where there were discrepancies, the values were adjusted upwards. The survey questions are currently available for downloading at HERE.
The general approach to marking the surveys is to give the candidate the benefit of the doubt.
The first section of the survey asks the candidates about beliefs, commitments and participation in arts, culture and heritage. This section was assigned a 30% weight in the marking of the overall survey.
The second, third and fourth sections of the survey are multiple choice questions about current issues. ArtsVote Toronto experts recommended that the issues section of the survey be assigned a weight of 60% of the overall mark, and ArtsVote Niagara accepted this recommendation.
The most subjective aspect of the survey is in Section 5 where, “candidates are encouraged to provide any further comments or position statements on arts or arts-related cultural, multi-cultural and heritage issues and priorities, including relevant education, work experience and volunteer work.” This is an opportunity for the candidates to earn an additional 10% based on the statements and evidence they provide on their positions, experience, education and commitment with respect to arts, culture and heritage.