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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY of STRATEGIC PRIORITIES with Background Information – as approved on October 28, 2015
- 2009 Prosperity Council Vision Task Force on Creative Enterprise recommended a multi-faceted vision to create a world leading environment that: Transforms the human experience – Makes Waterloo Region one of the most attractive and compelling places on the planet – Fosters artistic creativity – Supports constant innovation in commerce and technology – Fosters cultural understanding
- It was a big, ambitious vision, and imagined an ideal landscape for our community, especially for those looking to attract/retain business investment and employees who could choose to live/work anywhere.
- At the time of this work, the majority of our key cultural institutions were under-funded
- The Creative Enterprise Task Force, recognizing that an attractive and compelling community needed sustained arts organizations who could thrive, recommended that the near term focus of their work be leveraged towards the arts sector, and recommended the establishment of a Creative Enterprise “enabling organization”
- Task Force research showed that our municipal, private sector and federal/provincial support of arts and culture was lagging, and called for an increase at all levels
- The Municipalities and Region agreed, and annually invest an increased $1M directly in the 5 key cultural institutions – the Birdsall Report shows that this has effectively made a difference in their operations
- While the Creative Enterprise Task Force lobbied for the increased funding, it does not handle the money for the 5 cultural institutions – any questions around how the 5 cultural institutions use it to leverage private sector/Provincial/Federal funding should be directed to them
- Creative Enterprise Initiative, which eventually launched in 2011, was directed to focus on supporting small to mid-sized arts initiatives across the Region
- CEI was also tasked with using the funds that they received from the Municipalities and Region to leverage private sector support and federal/provincial funding
- First three years of operation resulted in approx. $900k contributions from Municipalities/Region and $855k from Private Sector and approx. $357k from Provincial/Federal agencies
- Also recommended, was a strategic review of conditions on a regular basis which led the board’s call for an assessment of CEI ‘s work last June 2014
- After making a leadership change in June 2014, and drafting a new strategic agenda to test assumptions, the CEI board contracted Overlap Associates to interview community leaders in arts, business and at the municipalities, as well as survey employees/employers to better understand community engagement challenges
- What we heard:– The concept of CEI must continue to exist but can’t continue to be all things to all people.
– CEI must focus their attention, and finances, on a smaller list of priorities
– The founding vision to make Waterloo Region one of the most attractive and compelling places on the planet is still relevant to our community but must be delivered differently.
– Artists and arts organizations in Waterloo Region want to identify their own career and organizational development needs, and want access to more opportunities to earn revenue
– It’s hard to find out what’s going on in Waterloo Region.
– We need projects and spaces that inspire and engage the public to participate “on the street” throughout the region.
PROPOSED STRATEGIC PRIORITIES:
VISION: To contribute toward making Waterloo Region one of the most attractive and compelling places on the planet.
WE ARE DOING THIS FOR: The residents of Waterloo Region, both current and future.
TWO STRATEGIC PRIORITIES:
1) Help our customers, the residents of Waterloo Region, find incredible things to do in our community that are engaging and entertaining.
To achieve this we recommend developing an engagement platform that is not only THE “what’s-on” website in the Region, but also a portal for our creative stories.
This calls for highly engaged content managers to actively participate in the community to understand and collect creative and entertaining information from across the region, and importantly, tell these local creative stories in a meaningful way.
It will require experts to curate this information specifically to the tastes of subscribers, and should be delivered directly to subscribers’ inboxes, enticing them to participate and support our creative sector and other service providers.
The anticipated results; increased and genuine audiences for our creative individuals, institutions and event organizers; residents who are aware of, and engaged in entertaining and interesting activities; compelling stories to showcase our region, helping us attract talent and global recognition; collateral benefit for employers, business owners, municipal facilities such as libraries and auditoriums hosting these activities.
2) Facilitate creative projects that tie the Region together with innovative programming that promotes collaboration across our sectors and encourages interaction among our community residents.
To achieve this we recommend the first objective be focused on a digital art strategy (working name) that reflects the Region’s strengths, creativity and unique flavour. It will complement and enhance existing digital installations, activities and art initiatives that are currently offered in each of the municipalities, and introduce new projects modeled after those that are presented successfully in other creative cities.
Curated artistic content is needed for such a project – something the municipalities could benefit from. The content will represent the distinct character and quality of our region, as well as interpretations from external influences. Our arts community can provide this content, and be inspired by, and learn from external content providers, enlivening spaces and inspiring the public to participate “on the street”.
A Region-wide creative digital art strategy will call for a collaborative approach, including working with partners such as artists, arts organizations and creative facilities, municipalities, businesses and BIAs, post-secondary institutions and other anchor organizations. It would provide paid opportunities for our arts community. It will showcase the products and services of our local businesses and tech sector. It will engage our employees to stay in town on “Friday nights”. It will provide us with more compelling storytelling opportunities to share globally.