Arts & culture a big draw in Kelowna

Kelowna's Arts & Cultural Summit saw Paul Born of Tamarack,An Institute for Community Engagement,kick off the event with a talk on how to connect community players.
— image credit: Jennifer Smith

Kelowna's Arts & Cultural Summit has interested parties from far and wide gathered in the Laurel Packinghouse this weekend.

The two-day summit intended to draw business and the cultural sector together to stimulate economic and cultural growth began with presenter Paul Born polling participants on where they were from and what brought them to the table.

From a graphic designer and aboriginal negotiator from Kamloops to a local social housing/urban farming/arts business owner, the group included people from all walks of life and all over the province.

And that was a good thing as, according to Born, it takes entire systems of people, from different sectors of the economy, to really affect change.

“If we really want to advance the importance of arts, culture and heritage, it’s not just about one person at a time,” said Born. “It’s about one system at a time.”

Leading a discussion in the second hour intended to get the ball rolling in that direction, he quickly found himself in a debate over the role of young people in the arts.

Where food critic, magazine journalist and businessman Jamie Maw stated he believes younger generations are largely missing from the Okanagan arts scene, visual artist Sara Lige said she sees it more as established arts groups missing out on what the younger generations are doing.

While the youth may not have a heavy presence in the symphony, ballet and some theatre circles, they do have their own grassroots-style events going on, she pointed out.

“I do believe the younger generation are engaging. It’s just different than what we are engaging with,” she said, suggesting it might be time for some of the more established pillars of the arts community to try getting involved with the next generation’s efforts.

Lige is the founder of Cool Arts, a program which provides arts opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities, and their discussion sparked the first taste of debate and the ideas to come.

The event will cover the bulk of the weekend. City officials are hoping it will generate new ideas people within the Okanagan can take and run with to start fostering cultural development, and economic diversification.

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