Nanaimo Economic Development Update

“The innovative cities of the coming age will develop a creative union of technology, arts and civics.” – Sir Peter Hall, renowned geographer and authority on the economic, demographic, cultural and management issues facing cities.

Sir Peter Hall lives half a world away in England and may not be a household name here, but the work he has done over decades will have a big impact on our community in the years to come. Hall helped pioneer many of the concepts behind modern cities and in particular of the influence that “creative classes” have on a community.

And for a community like ours, when it comes to arts and culture, the importance of the sector can’t be overstated. Beyond its contribution to the fabric of our community, giving us the opportunity to expand our minds and enrich our lives, it plays a significant role in our economic prosperity as well. The economic impact is felt in many different ways, through the goods and services arts organizations consume, the wages they pay and the new visitors (read: dollars) they bring to our community. All have a significant economic benefit to Nanaimo and region.

In 2010 the Vancouver Island Symphony calculated that they alone had a $1.2-million annual economic impact, including more than $11,000 that was spent in local restaurants every time the symphony performed. The most recent census figures pegged employment in the sector at 1,596 people. To put this number in context, that was more people than worked in either the construction, manufacturing or transportation sectors. With higher-than-average incomes and strong educational achievement rates, people in the arts and culture sector are an important part of our local workforce.

In addition to their direct contributions both financially and socially, the arts and culture sector will continue to play an increasingly important role in our economic development. Like Vancouver Island University, they are a magnet for attracting talented people to our community. In the years to come, as we continue to diversify and grow, attracting and retaining skilled workforce will be critical to our local prosperity. In this global race for talent, a thriving arts and culture scene is a “must have.”

So this year be sure to take in a performance, wander through a gallery or visit a museum. You will have a great time and you will be supporting the social and economic vibrancy of our beautiful Harbour City.

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