BY BILL BRADLEY
The local arts community is looking for advice on how to grow so it welcomed the input of an expert at a special workshop late last month.
?Sudbury has a strong foundation of cultural resources on which to build its identity as a creative and competitive city. These assets provide a distinct cultural landscape that provides significant opportunity for economic development,? said Reid Henry, director of research for Toronto?s Artscape, an arts economic development group.
He facilitated a workshop, funded by FedNor, last Friday at the Art Gallery of Sudbury. Dozens of artists, academics, and private developers attended.
?Artscape is a non-profit organization that builds creative communities around the world...a number of Sudburians, including Susan Thompson of the Downtown Village Corporation and Celeste Scopelites, director of the Art Gallery of Sudbury, have attended our community development sessions in Toronto. I thought it time for Artscape to come to Sudbury to see what can develop,? said Henry.
Henry applauded the fact that Sudbury has identified arts and creativity as a primary economic engine as part of its economic development strategy.
While arts programs do create jobs and also stimulate restaurant and bar traffic, there are important indirect benefits, he said, which need to be stressed to the decision-makers.
Arts activities helps to make the city more attractive to the professionals needed in crucial sectors like the health sector, agreed workshop participant Stephanie Harris, a business development officer with Greater Sudbury. She sits on the mayor?s roundtable for physician recruitment and retention.
?Health professionals such as doctors look at the lifestyle options in any city they are asked to locate to. Sudbury competes with Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto. They certainly want to know what is available if they are practicing residency here or if considering Sudbury to set up a practice,? said Harris.
While discussion and workshop was beneficial in generating ideas, some participants preferred immediate action rather than theoretical debate.
?I am tired of hearing about all this. We do not need consultants to develop yet another report. Give me the money a consultant would get and I will get
some action happening,? said Mary Fournier, an arts patron and former mayoral candidate.