Kingston has long been known as a city that is culturally vibrant. In fact, when I first started working with the City of Kingston almost 10 years ago, there was already so much going on in terms of music, theatre, art, literature, film, craft and more. The level of activity that already existed was remarkable but it had also become clear there was more the City could do to highlight these activities, to get more people interested and involved and to demonstrate how the arts could benefit the community more broadly.
Culture is about art and creativity but it’s also about so much more. It’s a force that unites people and creates a sense of pride and shared identity. It’s about values, beliefs, customs, languages and traditions and it’s also has economic benefits in terms of employment, innovation, economic development and tourism because people seek out places to live and visit that are known to be culturally vibrant. This requires work and that is why the City of Kingston adopted its first-ever culture plan in 2010.
The purpose of the Kingston Culture Plan was to create a sustainable, authentic, long-term vision for cultural vitality in Kingston. The Plan was built around three focus areas that included Stories, Places and Capacity and outlined strategic directions, initiatives and recommendations for action and an implementation timeline. It also identified opportunities for collaboration among City departments in support of municipal objectives as well as possibilities for connections between cultural organizations and local stakeholders to achieve outcomes that are mutually beneficial.
That work has been underway for almost a decade now and much has been accomplished at the City and within the community that has helped to propel Kingston forward as a community that punches above its weight in terms of culture and cultural vitality. Some of this work is more obvious like the growth of the Grand OnStage program, the renovation of the J.K. Tett Centre, increased arts and heritage funding and the creation of a public art master plan. However, a lot of this work is less obvious like the fact that culture in all its many different forms is now the driving force behind Kingston’s tourism brand “fresh made daily”.
It’s important to share all the great things that are going on here in Kingston and that’s the point of this blog. To explore the work the City of Kingston is doing on its own and in collaboration with people across the community to leverage the arts, heritage and culture in ways that benefit as many people as possible. It’s a fact that culture is important to Canadians with 86% of the population attending arts activities, 77% reading a book, 70% visiting a heritage site and 50% making art. Culture also accounts for 3% of Canada’s GDP as well as well as 3.5% of all jobs in Canada. Its impact is significant nationally and that’s increasingly true at a local level here in Kingston and that’s what we look forward to exploring through this blog.
Cultural vitality as the experience of the arts, heritage and culture in all its diversity. Follow our posts and you're welcome to leave a comment below.