The arts is more than painting and sculpting, more than music and drama; it is also money and community, employment and sustainability.
Conversations are about to begin about what the arts means to Quesnel, what contributions it makes to the local economy, how even more could be uncovered, and what tools might be needed for future development. The biggest tool on the wish list is a performing arts space, but that is only one element of how the pieces of the arts could fit together for the city.
The conversations will be led by the Quesnel & District Community Arts Council (CAC) and conducted by a research company called Nordicity. Head researcher Louisa Plant and associate Chad Rickaby laid out their data collection methods to a meeting of arts-interested people at a May 2 meeting at the Quesnel Arts & Rec Centre.
“Impact studies can help tell the story of the arts in a way that informs decision making, and it can help illustrate and establish a baseline so you can measure and have comparisons over time,” said Plant, who added that the consultation they were about to do would help calculate “economic and social value” that Quesnel could use for a number of purposes over time.
One of the most important purposes, said Rickaby, was to pinpoint “key metrics that speak to government” for things like getting grant money or forwarding infrastructure desires.
The data collection phase is scheduled to be carried out from this month until July, which will include a public survey and two roundtables.
Analysis will be done throughout August.
Any final data input will be done in September with a draft report to follow. The final impact assessment report is slated to be complete by the end of October.
“I think the presentation was great; it was informative, it gave people all the information that everybody here needed,” said Dina Unrau, executive director of the CAC. It was an introduction to what is about to happen, she explained, and she was intensely curious about what would be unveiled by the various sources of information Nordicity was about to put to use.
The real conversation will commence when the outreach is underway, especially the roundtables Nordicity will hold. If the spontaneous knots of conversation that flared up around the rec centre after the meeting are any indication, those will be animated and passionate.
“I was happy with the turnout,” said CAC board president Cathy Heinzelman. “We had 21 people, and that represents quite a few more. Many of them are with our member groups, so each of them represents 30 or 40 more people – hundreds, in some cases – depending on the group. We collect that data so they will be able to get future information quite easily.”
The conversation channels will soon be open. The ways to take part will be publicized by the CAC and if you or a group you’re involved with wishes to take part, contact the council to get on their email list for direct invitations. Message them via the Contact tab on the Quesnel & District Community Arts Council website.