Vancouver starts work on new Creative City Strategy to boost culture and the arts

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      Work has begun on a new strategy to guide Vancouver advance its successes as a city of creativity and culture.

      The forthcoming Creative City Strategy will build on accomplishments by the municipality over the last decade in supporting arts and culture.

      In 2008, the city launched its 10-year Culture Plan with the goal of promoting a healthy and diverse creative sector as an important component of a healthy and vibrant community.

      On May 2 this year, the two strongest supporters of the arts in council brought forward a motion that seeks to deepen the city’s work in this area.

      In the council motion moved by Heather Deal and seconded by Elizabeth Ball, staff received the marching order to “develop a vision for culture and creativity” that meets present and future challenges and opportunities.

      In a presentation Wednesday (October 18), the city’s managing director of cultural services informed council that work is underway.

      According to Branislav Henselmann, the “discovery” phase involving research, advisory committees, and focus has started and will continue until the end of the year.

      Henselmann, a former executive director of Ballet BC, told council that extensive community engagement will follow next year.

      Work on the strategy will continue throughout next year, and a report with recommendations to council is expected in the first quarter of 2019.

      Henselmann’s presentation shows the significant presence of the creative community in the city, with its 33,020 cultural workers comprising 9.7 percent of the labour force.

      Out of the total number of cultural workers in the city, 7,925 are artists. Like many, artists are also facing economic hurdles, with 65 percent earning less than $40,000 a year.

      Henselmann highlighted how the city has lived up to its commitment to support arts and culture.

      Focusing on the year 2016, Henselmann recalled that the city gave $12.1 million in cultural grants to nonprofits. A total of 463 cultural grants were awarded in the same year. The city also invested $3 million in developing new cultural spaces.

      Henselmann also reported about the importance of creative industries in B.C., which he said generate over $3 billion in revenues from film, TV, and digital media, based on figures from Creative BC, an independent agency created by the province.

      Creative industries also employ 65,000 fulltime workers across the province, many of whom are in Vancouver.

      Henselmann will update council about the work on the new creative city strategy in the first quarter of 2018.

      After his presentation, councillor Deal asked that “metrics” be included in the strategy so targets are identified and results measured.

      Councillor Ball, for her part, pondered about how the city can communicate its “passion” about culture and the arts to senior levels of government, whose funding support is essential to the creative sectors.

      In its Culture Plan in 2008, the city declared that “Vancouver is poised to establish itself as a leader on the cutting edge of art, culture, and education.”

      With its upcoming Creative City Strategy, Vancouver is primed to enrich its cultural vitality in the coming years.

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