On June 17, 2003, the Arts and Culture Committee of the Downtown Vancouver Association met at the Vancouver Dance Centre to begin exploring the idea of creating the Arts Experience Hour and what the Arts Experience Hour could become, how it might operate, and what could be done to make it happen. This was the first of a series of meetings planned over the summer to prepare for a presentation to the community in the early fall. The idea was introduced with the invitation.
The Arts Experience Hour
Introducing the idea
The Downtown Vancouver Association recognizes the importance and value of a strong and vibrant arts and culture community
We understand the economic importance of the arts as a major segment of our business community, as an attraction for visitors to our City, and as a contributor to other businesses who benefit from people who actively engage in the arts. It is a sustainable, healthy and highly leveraged part of our economy that employs more than 100,000 people in the Greater Vancouver Region and contributes more than 3.5 billion dollars to our GDP.
More important, the arts and the diversity of cultures in our community attract creative people, and people with ideas are the resources that will create and improve the future of our community.
Most important, the value of the arts lies in our experience of the arts. They improve and enhance the quality of our lives and the quality of life in our community. They give us pleasure, help us understand and connect with one another, and inspire us to excellence in expressing ourselves creatively. They change how we experience and engage with one another and contribute to our sense of community.
Over the past year the Downtown Vancouver Association has considered our interests in the arts and what we could contribute to our common interests as a community.
Our interest is to find ways to raise awareness of the value and importance of the arts and our multiculturalism to our community, to encourage and excite more people to experience more of the arts, to create more opportunities for people to experience the arts, and to make Vancouver known and recognized as a centre for experiencing the arts and the rich diversity our culture.
To contribute we will collaborate with the Alliance for Arts and Culture, the City of Vancouver and other community interest organizations around ideas to showcase the arts and culture of our community, to create events and activities that animate Vancouver as a centre for the arts and multiculturalism, and to establish an environment that attracts more interest and resources for our arts community.
Our strategy is to identify and develop three or four ideas for projects that could contribute to creating a stronger and more vibrant arts community, to explore each idea with others in a public forum, and to collaborate with interested participants in pursuing ideas and enterprises of common interest. The criteria for the ideas would be that they are leveraged, sustainable, doable and manageable
Ideas identified would initially be explored and developed by the members of the Arts and Culture Committee. Anyone interested is invited to participate as an ad hoc member of the Committee or become a permanent member of the Committee to pursue other ideas. Ideas that meet the criteria would be presented for broader discussion at a Downtown Vancouver Association sponsored or co-sponsored event in which individuals and representatives of enterprises who could benefit from the idea and who might have an interest in further developing and implementing the idea would be invited to contribute their ideas on how it might be improved and implemented.
The intention is to stimulate interest in the idea and generate new ideas and thinking among participants. The event will be designed to give attendees the experience of a lively discussion about a lively idea and benefit from the views of people who were actively engaged in its development. Individuals interested in pursuing the idea and contributing to making it happen will be encouraged to participate in its further development. If the event fails to stimulate sufficient interest and energy to make the idea happen, it will still give attendees some new information, ideas and things to think about.
People invited to attend will receive a three or four page outline of the idea and how it might work so they can come prepared to engage with other participants around the idea.
A protocol for a positive and productive conversation will be established for participants and a discussion animator will assist participants in following the protocol. Any new and additional ideas discussed will be documented and sent to participants.
The intention is to attract and engage people around ideas that could serve our common interests, and to build interest and facilitate collaborations to pursue ideas and enterprises that are in our common interests.
The Arts Experience Hour is an idea identified by the Arts and Culture Committee that the Committee feels could contribute to our common interests. The following is the first articulation of the idea and how it might work. Anyone interested in participating in the development of the idea is invited to join the discussion.
To create The Arts Experience Hour on weekdays at the end of the normal business day to give arts presenters and artists additional and new venues and opportunities, to provide people with arts experiences in more informal, convenient, unusual and low risk circumstances, to create more exposure, more experiences, and more personal connections between artists and their audience, and to stimulate more collaborative activity between artists, arts organizations, and other members of the business community.
Why the Arts Experience Hour
To attract people who might not be as actively engaged in the arts to explore different arts experiences in a non-threatening environment at a time when it is easy to do, when they are feeling in the mood for relaxation or a change of mood, often with friends, and are more open to spontaneous, unplanned activity that is low risk and low commitment.
To encourage people to stay downtown or in the area where they work to patronize local community businesses and extend their daily activity during this period into the evening
To give people activities to bridge the time between the end of the workday and evening events and activities they may have planned, and to encourage people to plan more evenings out at arts and cultural events or to experience other dining, evening shopping and nightlife activity offered by other local businesses
To provide people who have venues and who may have other experiences to offer with opportunities to collaborate with members of the arts community to create and package Arts Experience Hour events. This could include galleries, retailers, restaurants or other community businesses that wish to increase awareness and stimulate more interest and business activity and larger corporate enterprises that want to increase awareness of their presence and their active support of the quality of life in our community.
Why the end of the business day
It helps to make the connection that we are all in business and that it is good to collaborate as businesses around the members of our community and to support the people who make important contributions to the quality of life in our community.
Collaboration and support for most businesses can be as simple as communicating what is going on during the Arts Experience Hour to their employees and their patrons.
We are in a world of experiences, we value experiences, and businesses value the contributions of their employees and patrons. The Arts Experience Hour could give local businesses opportunities to demonstrate their appreciation for their employees and their patrons by giving them experiences they would value that are affordable, immediate, easy to give and appreciated.
Informal end of day gatherings in relaxed, enjoyable and stimulating circumstances are good for enhancing and creating positive conversations and relationships with colleagues, friends and customers.
Collaboration between venues, artists and arts presenters, and other local business partners around an experience or an event is an easy, low risk way to explore opportunities to collaborate, cooperate or partner around other ideas that could create longer, mutually beneficial ongoing relationships.
What does it look like?
Each genre of arts experience could have its own producer who orchestrates presenter and venue partnerships creating the packaging and financial arrangements that work for both the participants and the patrons.
Genres may cross the normal way we think about and package arts experiences to create different way of seeing, approaching and experiencing the arts. For example, experiences may be packaged under the genre of new music, innovative performance art, the arts of ethnic cultures, sexual cultures, youth cultures or other cultural influences, arts that create experiences and insights into social issues, and arts that are participatory and experiences that open new opportunities to explore an art form or genre in more depth or explore our own creativity.
Business partners will have opportunities to host single events, a series of experiences for a period of time, or a venue, or collaborate around support, promotion or active involvement as they choose and as it might work for them. Individual relationships and collaborations would be packaged and tailored to work fairly and work well for all parties. Any and all businesses would be encouraged to promote the Arts Experience Hour in whatever manner they choose to their employees and customers.
Marketing and communications of events and experiences would be conducted by a professional firm engaged by the group of genre producers and would be through participating businesses and their relationships and media vehicles. One or more major partners who could benefit from the additional activity created might host the umbrella marketing for the Hour.
Community interest enterprises, like the Alliance for Arts and Culture, the DVA, the DVBIA and others would collaborate around the idea with the Alliance or some other participant dealing with the administration necessary, and engaging, on behalf of the common interests of the participants an experienced individual to direct the project.
June 12, 2003
The next chapter
The observations and ideas contributed to the June 17, 2013 conversation moved the Arts Experience Hour from an idea to a project which was explored over the course of the summer. The contributors to the conversation were Herb Auerbach, Lori Baxter, Noel Best, Phil Boname, Gail Brown, Roger Chilton, Mirjana Galovich, Rona Gilbertson, Michael Gordon, Michael Heeney, Peter Jackman, Sharman King, Ray LeBlond, Allison MacDonald, Allison Markin, Catherine Merlin, Graham McGarva, Stephen Regan, and Lorenz von Fersen.