Monday, November 14, 2011

MPs and Canada's Sesquicentennial: arts and culture key to the conversation

At a time when economic doom and gloom dominates much of Ottawa’s agenda, it’s refreshing to know that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is looking forward to 2017 and how to best celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial anniversary. Happily, arts, heritage and cultural institutions appear poised to be central players in making this happen.

Many, if not most, Canadians have a fond memory of either the reality, or recollections, of our country’s centennial in 1967. Its legacies and accomplishments have resonated ever since. Looking ahead, Canadians appear ready for another national celebration. According to an Environics poll commissioned earlier this year, 49% of us think it is very important to commemorate this event in a meaningful way.

This week, leaders of Luminato, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, The Banff Centre and the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society will be appearing before the Committee. They have a fabulous opportunity to speak with MPs about how arts and culture can deepen the conversation about what kind of Canada we want, and how we need to adapt to our rapidly changing country. Beyond that of course, we can probably expect that they will point to how arts and culture can tell our sesquicentennial story to the world!

The Arts Advocate will be watching.

You can too by going to a video link on the parliamentary webpage.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From the Ground Up, a new report that reinforces the connection between jobs and culture

From the Ground Up: Growing Toronto’s Cultural Sector is a new report prepared for the City of Toronto by the Martin Prosperity Institute, and six other partners, that explores the link between culture, economy and place and its relationship to economic prosperity. It adds further evidence that culture, and the jobs it creates, are a fundamental part of an international economy. This comes at a time when the City of Toronto is wrestling with its 2012 budget, amid continued skepticism that arts and culture is a frill.

The Report reinforces that culture positively impacts:
- Jobs;
- Business growth;
- International attraction; and
- Quality of Life.

Not surprisingly, it argues for continued cultural investment, not less.

What is new about this report is that it provides new tools for identifying the geographic patterns of Toronto’s cultural resources. The project partners hope that this information can feed into more pro-active land-use strategies and planning, business development and preservation. All of this, they suggest, will lead to increased global competitiveness for the City of Toronto.

The model put forward in From the Ground Up speaks to a large urban centre. That said, it advances principles and a framework that other centres can apply to their cultural planning and economic development.