The Comox Valley Arts Council wants the region to think bigger in terms of arts and culture in the community.
Even with a vibrant local scene, more could be done in terms of marketing the Comox Valley, so arts council vice-president Evan Jolicoeur and executive director Dallas Stevenson delivered a presentation of the report Convert: Cultural Tourism and Marketing in the Comox Valley to the Comox Valley Regional District board at the Sept. 21 meeting.
The situation is in flux when it comes to economic development. The CVRD had dissolved its working relationship with the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS) this past year and is trying to determine where it will go in terms of economic development for the region. CVRD chief administrative officer Russell Dyson clarified the situation around finding a new economic development officer.
“We’re in a state of transition,” he said later in the discussion.
A new relationship with Tourism Vancouver Island, which is now overseeing the local visitor centre, presents possibilities, though Jolicoeur said they are waiting on Tourism VI’s plan.
For the Comox Valley Arts Council, the wish is to develop a firmer plan with the region to market arts and culture.
“We’ve been hard at work over the pandemic to reach our members,” Jolicoeur said.
As well as underscoring the importance of arts to the local economy, the Converge report sets out the partners and the current challenges for the region, as well as a plan to put the Comox Valley “on the map,” with timelines for plans over the short term in the next couple of years to the medium term from three to five years.
Jolicoeur told the CVRD the arts council would like a more formal relationship with the regional district through a working group. He cited other areas such as Campbell River and the Sunshine Coast where local governments have established plans and policies to support the arts and culture, which in turn underlie economic development, especially as communities move on from the pandemic downturn.
“Tourism is going to be a big part of a recovery in this community,” he said. “At the moment, we lack a collective brand.”
CVRD directors were enthusiastic about the idea. Area A director Daniel Arbour talked about things happening in his electoral area, such as a new arts centre for Hornby Island.
Area B director Arzeena Hamir said the Converge report provided some good information. As other board members said, she touched on the situation concerning the difficult relationship in recent years between the regional district and CVEDS and was hopeful about the new tourism marketing possibilities with Tourism Vancouver Island.
“We really do need to move forward and support arts much more,” she said.
CVRD chair Jesse Ketler said the board will be responding to the arts council’s request at the next meeting.