(Liz Forsberg) #1

POST WEBINAR DISCUSSION: Cultural Development in Rural and Remote Areas

On March 1st, Mass Culture hosted their second digital gathering in partnership with OTF. It was a deep dive into the issues and opportunities faced by cultural planners and arts organizers working in rural and remote contexts. It featured Annalee Adair, Cultural Planner and lead on the arts and culture master plan for Canmore and Felicity Buckell from Conseil des art Temiskaming Arts Council and SPARC (Supporting Performing Arts in Rural and Remote Communities). The conversation was facilitated by Bridget MacIntosh. Here’s the premise we started with:

Like their urban counterparts, rural communities across Canada must also prepare for the impacts of population growth over the next couple of decades. With possible amalgamations, rise of regionalism and shifts in local industry, how are rural and remote regions undertaking cultural development initiatives in their communities in a time of such unprecedented change?

How can cultural development in rural and remote regions serve as a touchstone to preserve what is unique about these areas?
How can it retain and attract artists and creative workers?
How are such initiatives building a foundation for future social and economic success?

Do you have questions or comments for us? Thoughts? We’d love to hear from you! In the comments section below you’ll find some of the reflections and resources shared in the chat box during the gathering.

(Liz Forsberg) #3

Thanks to all who participated in the digital gathering last Friday! There was a very lively conversation taking place in the chat box alongside the conversation happening with Annalee, Felicity and Bridget. Below you’ll find a summary of some of the themes that emerged in the chat box as well as the resources participants shared with each other. Did I miss anything? Feel free to add!


  • the need for local political champions of rural cultural planning
  • deep silos between professional & amateur arts can exacerbate the ability to gain widespread support for cultural planning (example was given of how sport enjoys much support in rural areas, where people can see themselves as spectators & participants)
  • the tension inherent in cultural tourism between increasing local quality of life vs increasing visitorship
  • some research mentioned around focusing on “authentic cultural experiences” as a way of building local quality of life while supporting cultural tourism
  • the value of arts & culture is key to the discussion
  • the need for success stories/statistics for smaller communities
  • issues with the lack of standardized data & systems of shared measurement
  • key to successful implementation of cultural plans in the rural context is partnership & collaboration (eg with other organizations such as artists’ associations, tourism, Agri-food network, cultural centres, heritage groups, etc)
  • building audiences is especially challenging in sparsely populated areas without a centralized resource for people to discover what arts & culture programming is happening
  • proper compensation for artists > artists need advocates to have their work valued
  • connection to the land is a unique feature of rural areas
  • Indigenous knowledge keepers & cultural practitioners are important community resources


(Felicity Buckell) #4

Thank you, @LForsberg, and everyone who organized, participated, and watched!

The only resource I might add (although I may think of more later) is the University of British Columbia’s Certificate in Cultural Planning program. Although the certificate program itself is currently on hold (quote from their website: Applications to the UBC Certificate in Cultural Planning are currently on hold while we review the program. We continue to offer courses and workshops that make up the program’s core curriculum), there are two workshops coming up which are open for registration:

Strategic Planning and Management in the Arts, and Eventful Communities.

I highly recommend the courses and workshops with UBC for both their content, and because of the valuable connections made with fascinating cultural workers through the online discussion platforms.

thanks again, Liz, Fanny, and Bridget!

(Liz Forsberg) #5

These sound like a great option for folks who want to take a deeper dive into cultural planning. Thanks for sharing @FelicityJane!

(Bridget MacIntosh) #6

Such an excellent list - some things to add as I go through my notes and files

Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity

City of Fredericton creates artist-in-residence spot for Odell Park

(Bridget MacIntosh) #7

And this article from Art Place America:

(Liz Forsberg) #8

Oh wow - what a cool project @bridgetannmac ! As a longtime community-shared-agriculture supporter in the traditional model of weekly produce boxes direct from a farm I am super-excited by this concept of adding art into the mix. I wonder if there are any CSAs doing this in Ontario?

[As an aside, for about 2 years when I was a 20 year old fine art student at the UofG I was also doing some rural extension coursework & dreaming of starting an organic farm once I graduated. The concept of being a farmer-artist was super appealing to me!]