Mary Fox, Ladysmith Artist is open for Digital Business (Submitted photo)

Push on to establish Vancouver Island as an arts powerhouse

Island-wide conversation underway on how the arts and culture can amplify economic development

A plan is underway to establish Vancouver Island and coastal area as an arts powerhouse.

Spearheaded by the Ladysmith Arts Council, the goal is to situate the Island region as a significant cultural force and destination.

Organizers are kicking off the project with the help of Terry O’Reilly, host of Under The Influence on CBC.

“More artists live and create here per capita than anywhere else in the country,” explains Ladysmith Arts Council President Kathy Holmes. “We are sparking an Island-wide conversation about the role the artists and culture sector can play in amplifying existing regional economic development and tourism activities.”

Sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategy Fund, the initiative recognizes that digital technologies are facilitating unprecedented collaboration and value creation, and explores how they can be used to enhance individual and collective marketing, communications and audience development efforts.

Much-loved marketing guru O’Reilly will be the keynote speaker during an interactive live webcast on Aug. 8 at 6 p.m., including a Q&A session.

Artists are invited to join this free event from the comfort of their couch or campsite. All that’s needed is a decent internet connection. Organizers are hoping the accessible online format will draw creatives from all corners of this coastal region.

Stz’uminus First Nation artist John Marston, whose studio is located in the Ladysmith Arts Council building, has already signed up for the live webcast.

“Storytelling is a fundamental component of my work, and I’m excited to hear Terry O’Reilly talk about how to integrate it more effectively into my online presence,” he said.

The second half of the workshop will feature Inga Petri, a Whitehorse-based consultant with deep expertise in applying digital technologies to uplift the Canadian arts and culture sector. Inga will offer practical tips and tools about existing and emerging technologies, and attendees will also be introduced to a new geolocation art app being piloted on Vancouver Island.

“We’re already hearing from many artists who are really ramped up working together to grow our sector,” continues Holmes. “There’s an energy brewing about what’s possible here on Vancouver Island thanks to our creative density and digital technology.”

A separate strategy meeting is being held July 25 at 10 a.m. for tourism associations, local governments, arts councils and economic development agencies who want to join the conversation.

These events are a collaborative effort between the Ladysmith Arts Council, the Cowichan Valley Arts Council, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, as well as two local social enterprises: artfinds.me and streamofconsciousness.ca

For more information on how to particiapte, contact Kathy Holmes or Ora Steyn at the Ladysmith Arts Council

admin@ladysmithwaterfrontgallery.com or 250-245-1252 or event coordinator Jenny Farkas at jfarkas@telus.net or 250-896-6446.

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