The arts and culture map of White Rock has been drawn – but now it’s up to the city, artists and organizations to navigate it and open up new territory.
The map – and its associated White Rock Arts and Culture Hub website, whiterockculture.ca – were presented to city council at its July 25 meeting.
They constitute a workable and easily update-able directory of artists, venues and cultural resources within White Rock.
B.C. Healthy Communities’ Deirdre Goudriaan, facilitator for the Arts and Cultural Mapping project, also presented council with a list of short-term recommendations to make the most of the information, which was developed through a series of public meetings and private interviews with stakeholders.
Council referred the recommendations to the city’s Arts and Cultural committee to form a strategic plan.
Coun. Helen Fathers, council representative on the committee said Wednesday she appreciates the recommendations – one of which was to develop just such a plan – and the information gathered by the project.
“It’s a very good process the team went through,” she said, adding that she feels it behooves the city to act on the findings of the project, many of which, she said, confirm long-held suspicions that there is more that can be done to develop the arts and cultural component of the city – not just as community enrichment, but also as an economic driver.
“One thing that struck me in the report is that some 85 per cent of people in White Rock leave the city for arts and cultural events,” she said.
“That’s a big number. It’s not a surprise that people leave the city, but it is a surprise in what it could mean for the city. It shows the potential that is there – if we could capitalize on that.”
Fathers also noted the number of arts groups that are paying rent for the facilities they use.
“If we could see a way of capitalizing on the people who are paying rent and putting them under one roof, that could also be great for the city.”
One of the recommendations is that the city explore a mutually beneficial agreement with the City of Surrey with regard to an arts and culture facility on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.
“We have been talking with Surrey about partnering on an arts facility,” Fathers said, adding that “it makes no sense at all” for both cities to pursue rival facilities.
“I’d always lobby for it to be in White Rock, of course,” she said.
Other recommendations included having Leisure Services conduct an audit of facility costs, having the city and Arts and Cultural committee pursue grant opportunities, liaising more closely with the Semiahmoo First Nation on arts and cultural activities, and the appointment of a short-term events co-ordinator who could encourage groups to integrate arts into planning.
Fathers noted that Leisure Services is currently undergoing some reorganization.
“Maybe it’s time Leisure Services had more of an arts and culture component,” she said, adding that Surrey’s equivalent department is named Culture and Recreation.
“Maybe what we need is something as simple as a name change.”
In that context, Fathers said she feels there must be more emphasis placed on creating cultural activities for youth in the city.
“I think we’re missing the needs of youth,” she said. “As a parent, I book my daughter into classes in music and dance, but most of the courses I sign her up for are out of the South Surrey Recreation Centre. It would be great if we could sign up through Leisure Services.”
At the July 25 meeting, database and map co-ordinator Nev Gibson told council the new Arts and Culture Hub website serves as a directory for a “whole gamut of different kinds of resources.”
Artists can create profiles with links to their own websites, and users can look up resources, such as technical services and venues.
An announcement component allows artists and organizations to post notices, while the visual map uses icons to illustrate resources geographically.
“All of this information is maintained by the community itself,” Gibson said.
He added the information is kept current, and those who have made posts are automatically emailed if they haven’t confirmed a listing.
– with files from Hannah Sutherland