Culture an economic driver, says expert 0
This project is aiming to put culture on the local map.
A new project to provide a database of cultural resources is stirring some interest in the local community.
Last week, nearly 20 people attended a workshop on the cultural mapping project jointly sponsored by local municipalities in Thornbury. It was one of a series of meetings held around the area to introduce the project to the public.
Dr. Greg Baeker was the lead presenter at the meetings, which involved The Blue Mountains, Collingwood, Clearview Township and Wasaga Beach.
"The data and findings gathered to date are preliminary and the cultural mapping workshops are really important to inviting the community into the cultural mapping process to help broaden and deepen the cultural data collected," said Tanya Mazza, who is speaheading the project for Collingwood. "The South Georgian Bay Cultural Mapping Project is breaking new ground in Canada on several fronts."
Baeker outlined what the project was all about to the spectators.
"The first is that the mapping project is the first to be funded as part of a broader regional economic development strategy," he said. "While cultural mapping projects have been funded in the past the funders have been the Ontario Ministry of Culture and the Department of Canadian Heritage. The fact that the project is being funded through the Communities in Transition funding program of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development speaks to recognition of cultural mapping as an important economic development tool in Ontario communities -- and beyond."
Unlike other, similar projects, the multi-community project is also a new wrinkle.
"To date mapping tends to have been done on a municipality by municipality basis," said Baeker. "Some initial mapping work has been completed in Niagara Region and Durham Region, that without active involvement of local municipalities. This project is being lead by local municipalities coming together out of a recognition of shared needs and opportunities."
The project is using geographic information system (GIS) technologies employed by municipalities to make it a truly digital project.
"The project has broken new ground in connecting existing cultural mapping tools using point data in a Googlemap environment to municipal planning systems and a ESRI ArcGIS environment. The ability to manipulate cultural data in this context is a huge leap in integrating cultural assets and information in planning systems and connecting it with other critical areas of planning including land use, economic development, social planning, etc.," said Baeker.
So far, the process has identifed 715 "regional cultural assets", Baeker said in his presentation.
Artisans and craftspeople make up 18.3% of cultural workers, and employ approximately 100 people.
"There's a need for creative elements to grow the economy," said Baeker. "If you want to build communities that people want to live in, people will come."
Lifestyle is what draws people, said Baeker, not jobs.
"It's the opposite of what you would expect. Quality of life is an economic asset."