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Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage releases new report examining cultural hubs and cultural districts

Earlier this month, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage released a report entitled A Vision For Cultural Hubs And Districts In Canada. This report was the outcome of a Committee study on cultural districts and hubs in Canada, with a particular focus on determining the role they play in city building, their economic impacts, their effects on arts and culture, and how the federal government can better foster and support the development of these spaces.

The Committee held eight meetings earlier this year, with Music Canada’s Executive Vice President Amy Terrill appearing as a witness during this process.

The report provides a summary of the federal government’s current initiatives regarding cultural hubs and districts, and outlines various policy perspectives on key related topics including: the social and economic impact of cultural hubs and districts, the various collaborative approaches to developing cultural hubs and districts, barriers to securing funding, and the important role of infrastructure considerations. The report also contains 18 Committee recommendations to the Government of Canada.

One of the key issues discussed in the report is how exactly a cultural hub and cultural district can be defined. Witnesses throughout the eight Committee meetings provided a number of different interpretations of what constitutes a hub or district, offering definitions that ranged from fairly encompassing to more rigidly defined. Music Canada has submitted our own recommendation regarding how cultural hubs and cultural districts should be categorized, in addition to recommending that the Department of Canadian Heritage’s definition for cultural hubs be expanded. It was encouraging to see that the official Committee recommendation reflected this assertion, with the specific language calling on the Department to “broaden the definition of a cultural hub to, among others, consider new technological art forms.”

Another important topic highlighted in the report outlined the various collaborative approaches that can be taken to developing cultural hubs and cultural districts. Alongside the role of the government, partnerships have been found to be the key to the successful creation of projects relating to cultural hubs or districts. Indeed, as EVP Amy Terrill highlighted in her testimony before the Committee, collaboration between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors is a critical component of cultivating a flourishing network of cultural spaces and sustaining a vibrant cultural sector.

Other key issues that were outlined in the report include:

  • The social impact of cultural hubs and cultural districts, such as their role in empowering local communities and contribution to fostering inclusion
  • The economic impact of cultural districts and hubs, with a particular focus on their role as economic drivers and tourism generators
  • The distinct roles of federal, provincial, and municipal governments in encouraging the development of cultural hubs and districts
  • The barriers to securing operational funding for cultural spaces
  • The potential of introducing tax measures and incentives to support the development of cultural hubs and districts, and other types of social public spaces
  • The challenges posed by a lack of affordable spaces in urban centres and the impact of rising real estate prices on public spaces

Read the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage’s full report on the House of Commons website.

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