Lives enriched through city’s arts, culture

NANAIMO - A healthy Nanaimo means more than recreational opportunities.

Bruce Halliday

Bruce Halliday

A healthy community isn’t just about going out and getting physical exercise.

The arts and culture of a city also enhances people’s quality of life and is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.

The City of Nanaimo is currently revising its Cultural Plan and has been asking for public input into the process.

The plan is also being shaped by a technical team of volunteers who have been involved in the arts and culture community for years.

One of those volunteer members is Bruce Halliday, general manager of the Port Theatre.

“It brings an insight and perspective unique to people who have made their career in the arts,” he said, about the volunteers on the team. “My goal is to ensure the cultural strategy is achievable and realistic and yet represents long-term dreams.

“But it’s also about ensuring the cultural strategy has some teeth. That it’s not just words on a page, and adopted meaningfully into the City of Nanaimo.”

Halliday has been on the committee since the last cultural strategy was adopted and involved in the cultural community for the past 34 years. He said with changes to the global economy and community, the plan needs to be updated.

“It’s very timely. Arts is definitely an economic driver in the community as Nanaimo and Vancouver Island moves from a resource economy to an intellectual of creative-based economy,” he said.

Venues such as hockey rinks, museums, art galleries and the Port Theatre are all important places in the community, because it’s just as important to be able to access sports facilities and parks as arts and culture spots.

“All these things make up a healthy, full-enriched life where we can grow or kids and families can be creative,” he said.

Halliday notes the city has adopted a cultural lens in everything it does, using it in projects such as roadwork, enhancing buildings and enriching parks.

The purpose is to see how to add more cultural significance to a project or public art.

The more public input into the process, the better the plan will be to meet the future needs of the community, said Halliday.

Residents have a chance to give input into the plan and learn about building creative communities at two upcoming workshops, featuring Gord Hume, one of Canada’s leading authorities on cultural planning, creative cities and the important role of municipal governments.

The workshops are Wednesday (Feb. 13) 1:30-3:30 p.m. and 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Benson Ballroom at the Coast Bastion Inn.

The free sessions are open to the public.

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