The Importance of Cultural Vitality

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1 The Importance of Cultural Vitality A Key Ingredient for a Successful City David Witty Interim Chair, Inspire Nanaimo

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3 Defining a Successful city A Successful City is vibrant, convivial and livable adapting to changing circumstances by incorporating and promoting a balanced built environment, cultural, economic, environmental, and social vision and related actions that value community well-being and a high quality of life for its citizens.

4 Why is being a Successful City so Important? Cities are competitive places. Cities are constantly adapting and changing to new realities, including economic, environmental and social realities. Cultural elements of the city can be managed much more directly and purposefully than some of the other realities. By investing in cultural programming and ensuring that a city has a core, strong, vibrant cultural community, a city is able to help shape its identity and ensure that it can compete with other cities in attracting investment and talent.

5 Cities are competing for talent! We live in a global world: interconnectivity is operative world. Populations are mobile: people are a transient resource. Most cities have similar infrastructure: not much differentiation. People and ideas are highly mobile. Investment and wealth generation are possible anywhere. People are now the key resource: attracting and retaining them is important. The Key: Creating cities where people want to live and in so doing becoming a Successful City.

6 Evolving Concepts: Proactive public policy Proactive governance Political and economic processes are intertwined. Public policies are political-economic products, which, in their turn, affect investment. Strategic Investments It is critical that city public policies be framed within the context that cities need to be managed to achieve desirable economic and social goals. It is about Entrepreneurial Governance

7 Evolving Concepts: The Creative Class Richard Florida Rotman School of Business

8 So What has funding for Cultural Programs got to do with being a Successful city? Make no mistake we are in competition with other cities in British Columbia and Canada; Cities that understand the importance of suporting the five Successful City Pillars (quality built environment, cultural richness, economic diversity, social diversity and environmental sustainability) will prosper in the fullest sense.

9 Economic well being is tied to cultural wellbeing A rich, diverse rewarding arts and culture community is a key aspect of overall city well being. Investors measure a city s attractiveness by examining the degree to which a city invests in its wellbeing. The mobile creative class examines the overall wellbeing of a city before committing to it. There are many examples where cultural and arts renewal has spurred city renewal (e.g., Austin Texas, Quebec City, Halifax)

10 What others have to say: Cities with a strong and vibrant cultural sector routinely experience outstanding economic growth because: the economic benefits of a strong cultural sector include increasing innovation, productivity, and returns on the city s brand p.2 Bell, A. and Stolarick, K., Funding for Arts and Culture Organizations, (Toronto: Martin Prosperity Institute), 2008

11 Our competitors are investing in culture The Culture and Heritage Commission note that Nanaimo s competitors (e.g., Kelowna, Kamloops) are investing strategically in cultural programming. Nanaimo needs to also continue to commit to its cultural vibrancy to ensure that Nanaimo becomes British Columbia s most Successful City, and, in doing so, ensures that Nanaimo is able to compete for the creative class and the jobs of the future.

12 My recommendation Embrace the concept of cultural vibrancy as an essential component of city well-being and high quality of life; Acknowledge that, with the work of the Culture and Heritage Commission (and the significant good work of the Cultural Plan for a Creative Nanaimo) there is clear direction for Council; Recognise that the previous Council endorsed the idea of a Successful City with its five pillars (including the cultural pillar) as central to the health of Nanaimo; and Endorse the report of the Culture and Heritage Commission, and most importantly avoid the implementation of cap on programs and in so doing recommit to the importance of culture and arts in Nanaimo.

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