The implementation of the regional Cultural Plan is well underway. Cultural leaders from within the County of Hastings, City of Belleville and City of Quinte West have jointly prioritized actions within their 10-year Cultural Plan and have since been holding meetings to plan the roll-out. The plan outlines four main goals: Goal 1: Foster Regional Cultural Collaboration; Goal 2: Grow Culture-Driven Economic Development; Goal 3: Celebrate the Region’s Rich History and Heritage; and Goal 4: Build a Strong and Collaborative Cultural Sector.
One of the first actions was to establish a Cultural Roundtable. This Roundtable’s mandate is not to be that of an “advisory body”, but an action-oriented mechanism to support implementation of the Cultural Plan. It consists of stakeholders from the local cultural community and those who helped develop the Plan, and has been formed to commence the implementation process.
The group has formalized a communications plan to keep the public informed and is in the process of placing the mapped cultural asset database onto an interactive online platform, and encouraging collaboration between various groups in the area. With the onset of the municipal elections, the Cultural Roundtable is moving forward to ensure that the candidates are aware of the content and benefits of the Regional Cultural Plan that was adopted by Hastings County, Quinte West and Belleville municipal councils in September of 2012.
The Cultural Plan is important because the cultural industries have and continue to grow in our area bringing economic benefits to the region. There has been a 20% increase in Creative/Arts jobs from 2006 to 2011 in Hastings County alone. Creative workers typically earn $20,000 more on average than the next wage category and bring spending power in a community. As of June 2011, 303 creative cultural industries were identified across Hastings, Belleville & Quinte West Region. This includes jobs in culture support services, advertising, design, motion picture and video, publishing and independent artists, writers and performers. Studies also show that cultural tourists stay in the area longer thus increasing tourism revenue to the region. In our area, there are at least 68 cultural heritage sites/organizations that exist, over 60 festivals and events and over 40 natural heritage attractions.
According to Evironics Research Groups, there is great interest and support for arts and culture with the Ontario public. 89% believe that if their community lost its arts activities, people living there would lose something of value. 81% of Ontarians agree that government should spend public dollars to support the arts. 95% of Ontarians say that the arts enrich the quality of their lives. Involvement of each municipality is key. Arts and culture are the cornerstones of the creative, knowledge –based economy which provides return on investment. According to Cultural Plan expert and consultant, Dr. Greg Baeker, “every $1 invested by the City of Toronto in their Cultural Plan, results in $17 in spinoffs from other levels of government, private sector and philanthropic support.” In 2007, the Canadian cultural sector generated more than three times the governments’ direct spending on culture by generating approximately $25 billion dollars in taxes to all levels of government.
The message is clear. Investing in Arts, Culture and Heritage makes sound economic sense and improves the quality of life for the citizens of the region. The Cultural Roundtable is committed to fostering and encouraging creativity and prosperity for those engaged in cultural industries in our region for the benefit of all citizens and visitors in our community. Details are available at www.hastingsculturalplan.com.