FREDERICTON'S CULTURE OF INNOVATION
Chapter 12 - Enabling Innovation within the Arts & Cultural Community
In recent columns, we have explored innovation happening across multiple sectors, which most simply defined is the conversion of ideas into money. Through the development of new solutions/methods -- businesses, government and institutions are better serving their customers to meet the ever-changing market demand. In this month’s column, we will talk about some initiatives designed to help our vibrant art and cultural community convert their innovations into viable business enterprises.
At a macro level in 2014, we know that the economic impact of culture (which includes heritage, culture, and arts) was $670.5 million in New Brunswick. We also know that the arts and cultural sector is a vital component in the attraction and retention of our people. In his book, The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida describes the ‘creative class’ as knowledge workers and "people in design, education, arts, music and entertainment, whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology and/or creative content” (Florida, 2002, p. 8). He suggests that educated individuals will be attracted to cities that offer a high quality of life and a critical mass of cultural activity, in addition to employment opportunities. Through our experience at Ignite Fredericton, lifestyle including art and cultural amenities, have become a key criterion in the site selection process of both businesses and workers.
Did you know that Fredericton was named one of Canada’s Cultural Capitals in 2009?
Within this microcosm, we have the world-renowned Beaverbrook Art Gallery undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion, and a number of privately owned galleries. We also have a plethora of homegrown festivals from the Harvest Jazz & Blues, New Brunswick Highland Games, Frostival to those celebrating local craft alcohol producers. The Playhouse, now at the end of its useful life, is the heart of our performing arts community. The City of Fredericton has declared a new performing arts center as its number one priority for 2017. With an enhanced performing arts presence, we can only anticipate the continued growth of this booming sector.
With over 9,000 culture jobs in New Brunswick, and another 22,000 workers in industries that support the arts (2014), the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design (NBCCD) is at the epicenter of emerging talent. It is critical that these innovative minds be equipped with business skills so that they can convert their works into a livelihood. This is why Ignite Fredericton is starting to work with NBCCD on enhanced entrepreneurial programming.
As a key stakeholder of Culture Connect - a networking and learning forum for cultural workers - Ignite Fredericton is also working with its members to promote the importance of this sector, and nurture its growth through entrepreneurial support programs. Ignite’s objective is to ensure that its members are aware of the available services to enable the start and growth of art/cultural enterprise.
One of the first steps of Culture Connect was to map the art and cultural ecosystem
This map illustrates organizations for: funding, creation-based, member-based advocacy, institutional/educational, festivals, presenting/theatre-based, cultural industries, community arts groups, and individuals artists & collectives.
These aforementioned organizations are promoting arts & culture, and assisting artists in various ways. For example, ArtsNB offers provincial funding programs and resources to help artists prepare and access grants here. ArtsLink NB is another group that unifies the New Brunswick arts and culture sector through programs such as Catapult, their arts accelerator, which has been running in Fredericton and Saint John.
In partnership with our sister organization, Planet Hatch, plus The Ville & Fredericton Makerspace, an ‘Artrepreneur in Residence Program’ has been recently created to offer free membership and dedicated office space to local artists, facilitating access to business mentorship, programing, networking events and the opportunity to co-host workshops and seminars to serve the arts community. This program was designed not only to provide access to the latter, but to enable collisions within the startup community with like-minded individuals. Applications are currently be accepted here.
The anticipated outcome of these collective activities is to see our art and cultural workers converting their beautiful ideas into viable business operations thus enhancing our art & cultural sector, and quality of life. This in turn will contribute to economic growth as people and businesses continue to ‘Choose Fredericton’!
Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS
Economic Development & Marketing Specialist
Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch