Providing a home for art, culture and high tech’

It’s refreshing to see Kitchener councillors and staff recognize the benefits that result from efforts to nurture arts, culture and heritage values.
It’s about time, even if it could mean a substantial investment of tax dollars.
Councillors participated recently in the first act of this piece of municipal theatre by listening to our creative community and provincial officials from Arts Build Ontario about what is required in way of affordable studio-rehearsal facilities so artists can thrive and meet the high expectations of our high-tech’ industry.
Whether councillors appreciate the fact that the soul of any city is found in a partnership between heritage preservation and the arts or recognize the economic rewards resulting from a healthy cultural climate, I’m pleased to see attention given the issue.
In act two, councillors recently paid attention to a repeated message that, in order to attract and keep employees at high-tech’ companies, we have to invigorate and invest in local culture. My expectation would be that those companies do the same.
At council, we heard from those associated with downtown cultural institutions who seek a wider choice of low-cost rehearsal or exhibition space.
There have also been councillor tours organized to illustrate the potential use of two city-owned downtown buildings that could provide space for our arts community. And, predictably, there are the usual councillors who lack the vision and creativity to recognize the value involved in supporting the arts.
I’m convinced those voices will be a negative minority when it comes to eventual decisions and that the final act in this drama will include councillors approving a building that provides a welcoming home for our arts-culture community.

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One Response to Providing a home for art, culture and high tech’

  1. uncleliz says:

    As long as the answer from council is not to pour more funds into the money trench of non-starters like CEI or the so-called pillars, that would be a start. A worrying phrase in the post, “… meet the high expectations of our high-tech’ industry” is the sort of rubric that saw the direction of culture left in the unqualified hands of the Prosperity Council, wasting a million good dollars in the process. The arts community has had enough of consultants and the presumption that we exist and persist for the amusement of “talent”, which has come to mean coders and their ilk. The tech corridor between Toronto and Waterloo region has long been an exit strategy for local creative talent for decades and that bleed continues. I’ve recently heard that there is talk of a film and music office in city hall. Here’s hoping that the leadership of such an office is sourced outside the walls of city hall, where events staff have proven not to be wealthy in clues when it comes to the needs of the local performing arts and production communities. At this time we are a platform rich environment, we lavish funding on the tech sector at a time when “content is king”. Local artists are working on the bleeding edge of a lot of tech, yet are still treated as poor cousins. As a media worker, I speak from experience. This could be a hotbed of production but our creators more often than not have to look further afield for recognition and audience. We should look to the examples of communities like Sudbury, London and Hamilton for examples of how to make culture central to the community for its own good rather than as an adjunct to another sector, no matter how shiny.

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