I took a bit of time over the last week to have a good look at the new cultural plan that the Cultural Task Force recently released and, I have to say, it’s an excellent look at the state of things here in Summerland and presents quite a few really great suggestions for how to move things forward in a positive direction, culturally, for our town.
The report talks about five strategic directions that have been established to help shape and guide the future of the arts here in Summerland.
They are: Reflect Summerland’s cultural values in municipal decisions and projects; Establish an administrative framework to support the arts, heritage and culture; Enhance public spaces and cultural places; Build on community strengths and assets; Connect the community with better accessibility, inclusiveness and coordination.
These five strategic directions alone, if properly executed, could do wonders to not only help the arts and cultural community here in Summerland, but would actually be great for the community as a whole.
It can be very easy to simply see the arts as something that only those who produce arts are interested in and even easier to forget that most people, in some way, shape or form, also benefit quite a lot from them.
Think of all the great concerts you’ve seen or books you’ve read over the years. You may not have had any part in their creation, but your enjoyment is just as crucial to the survival of the arts (such as whether or not the creator decides they want to keep creating).
For me, I think the last one probably the most important piece of all of this.
Connecting the community to the arts, be it through making it easier to get to some of the more out of the way spots (like wineries or the Kettle Valley Steam Train) or simply by creating a spot where people can go to find out about all things arts and culture happening around town is a very critical piece of the puzzle.
A community can’t support the arts, if they can’t get to them and, more important still, a community can’t support the arts if they don’t know what is happening, when it’s happening and where it’s happening.
One of the things that is discussed in the Cultural Plan is a central location for arts and cultural happenings in the city.
This is a fantastic idea.
I’ve been writing this column for a little over a year now and I can tell you from this experience that, at times, it’s very hard to figure out what’s happening around town, and I’m actively looking.
For those who don’t know of the handful of spots to find out the goings on, it has to be downright impossible to find anything.
Having a central calendar of events that is easy to find, possibly even with a separate website will make all the difference in the world.
Burying it deep in the district website structure won’t really help anyone, neither will including it on the Arts Council’s page unless the address ends up being something like happenings.summerlandarts.com.
The easier it is to find, the more people will use it.
I look forward to seeing how this Cultural Plan is adopted going forward and would like to thank all those involved in sorting through the 2,300 comments that came in during this process.
It was no easy task and the end result has a lot of potential for growing arts and culture here in Summerland.
Douglas Paton is a Summerland writer and musician. If you know of a local arts and culture event, contact him at email@example.com.