The Arts Experience Project

Our Interests

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. The arts and our diverse cultures 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.

The interests of the Arts Experience Project are

To raise awareness of the value and importance of the arts and the diversity of our cultures to our community
To encourage and excite more people to experience more of the arts and other cultures
To create more opportunities for people to experience the arts and other cultures
To make Vancouver known and recognized as a Centre for experiencing the arts and the rich diversity of our cultures

Our Strategy

Our strategy is to 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 could contribute to making Vancouver known as a centre for experiencing the arts and multiculturalism, and to establish an environment that attracts more interest in and resources for our arts community.

Our approach is to explore and develop ideas for projects that serve our interests and to facilitate collaboration with interested participants around ideas that are attractive, leveraged, doable and sustainable.

Ideas would initially be explored and developed by members of the Arts and Culture Committee. Anyone interested in participating is invited. Ideas that meet the criteria would be presented for broader public discussion at a DVA hosted or co-hosted event. People who could benefit from and act on the idea would be invited to hear the idea and discuss how it might be improved and implemented. The intention is to stimulate interest and generate more ideas and new thinking around ideas and projects that serve our common interests.

The event will be designed to give attendees the experience of a lively discussion about a lively idea and benefit from the views of the 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 new information, ideas and points of view to think about.

People will receive an overview of the idea and how it might work with their invitation so they can come prepared to engage with other participants around the idea. A protocol for a positive and productive conversation will be established and a discussion animator will assist participants in following the protocol. New and additional ideas discussed will be documented and sent to participants.

Our intention is to attract interest, engage people and facilitate collaborations around ideas and enterprises that serve our common interests.

The Arts Experience Hour

The Arts Experience Hour is an idea for a project that the Committee feels could contribute to our common interests.

The idea of The Arts Experience Hour is to animate the downtown core at the end of the normal business day by creating additional new venues and opportunities for artists and arts presenters to showcase their arts, providing people who work and live in the downtown core with opportunities to experience the arts in easy, convenient, unusual and low risk circumstances, providing more informal experiences where more personal connections can be created between artists and their audiences, and stimulating more collaborative activity between our artists and our arts organizations and other members of the business community.

Development of the Idea

The following is an articulation of the idea and how it might work. Anyone interested in contributing is invited to participate in the development meetings of the Committee or to email their ideas and suggestions to Everyone interested in the idea will be kept informed by email as the idea evolves.

Why the Arts Experience Hour

To attract people who might become more 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 looking for relaxation or a change of mood, often with friends, and are more open to spontaneous, unplanned activity with low risk and low commitment.

To encourage people to stay downtown at the end of the work day to patronize local community businesses and extend their daily activity in the area 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 evening shopping, dining, or nightlife activity offered by local businesses

To provide people who have venues and 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 want to increase awareness and stimulate more interest and business activity and larger corporate enterprises that want to actively participate in the development of our community and increase public and customer awareness of their presence and support.

Exciting collaboration between venues, artists and arts presenters, and other local business partners around Arts Experience Hour events is an easy, low risk way to explore opportunities to cooperate, partner, and create around other ideas to create ongoing mutually beneficial relationships.

For many businesses, collaboration and support could be as simple as communicating what is going on during the Arts Experience Hour to their employees and their patrons. For others, it could be providing a venue and promoting events at their venue to their patrons and the general public. For others, it could be providing financial support and being active participants in building audiences and making the Arts Experience Hour successful.

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. The Arts Experience Hour could give local businesses opportunities to demonstrate their appreciation to their employees and their patrons by giving them experiences they would value and appreciate that are affordable, immediate, convenient for everyone and easy to give.

What does it look like?

Each genre of arts experience could have its own producer who orchestrates partnerships between arts providers and venues creating the packaging and financial arrangements that work for both the participants and patrons.

Arts experiences could be packaged to create different way of seeing and approaching arts experiences. 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 cultures, arts that create experiences and insights into social issues, or arts experiences that are participatory and provide opportunities to explore our own creativity.

Business partners could host events or a series or package of events, provide a venue, or collaborate with providers around any initiatives that might work for both parties. All businesses in the downtown core would be encouraged to promote the Arts Experience Hour to their employees and customers.

An experienced producer could be engaged to work out of the offices of and get administrative support from the Alliance for Arts and Culture, the Board of Trade, one of the Business Improvement Associations, or a corporate partner interested in becoming an active participant in creating and building the Hour.

A professional marketing firm could be engaged to provide umbrella marketing and communications services and coordinate the marketing and communication activities of participants to make the best use of their communication vehicles and opportunities.
Financial support for marketing and communications could be provided by one or more corporate partners who might be interested in participating in the marketing or in becoming an active Arts Experience Hour host.

Exploring the Arts

The informal nature of the experiences offered during the Arts Experience Hour could provide artists with opportunities to create more personal connections with their audiences and give audiences more opportunities to explore “backstage” and get to know more about the creative process and how the arts work. Arts Experience Hour events, for example, might include opportunities to meet and have conversations with artists, attend rehearsals or participate in workshops. The intention of the Arts Experience Hour is to give people opportunities to explore and learn more about the arts.

Stimulating and Sustaining Interest

Interest in the Arts Experience Hour could be stimulated and sustained by creating and changing themes for the Hour. This could include collaborating with and around annual festivals or periodic one-time events to raise the profile and stimulate more awareness, interest and participation in both events. Interest in new events, such as the Vancouver Arts Awards and the Waterfront Festival could also be excited and promoted through the Arts Experience Hour.

Another way to build and sustain interest is to promote the idea of Arts Experience Clubs that could provide enriching and stimulating social experiences to engage in and explore with friends, like book clubs. This idea could be promoted to and through existing book clubs and other social and community groups who already get together regularly as an alternative or additional experience to share together.

Building the Brand

Making the Arts Experience Hour successful will mean building the brand so people come to know what they will get and what they will experience through Arts Experience Hour events. This means the Hour will need to offer a critical mass of worthwhile things that are associated with and belong to the brand, and ensure that Arts Experience Hour events consistently deliver on their promise.

This might, for example, include establishing a single price point for every Arts Experience Hour event. As one of the reasons for creating the Hour is to assist people in overcoming barriers they might have around different kinds of arts experiences, it might also include providing incentives at Arts Hour events to encourage people to take the next step.

If accessibility and convenience are what the Hour offers, it might mean that events and venues need to be readily available within relatively easy walking distance of any downtown location.

The Hour might also become known as a way in which people can have the opportunity to preview or sample currently available or upcoming arts experiences. Much of what the Hour offers might simply be packaging events that are already taking place at that time or scheduling new or additional times for other evens occurring at other times.

To be successful and build interest and audience support, the Arts Experience Hour has to be done well, done consistently, and done professionally. People currently engaged in arts organizations don’t have the time or the resources to be involved in its organization and there are costs to their participation. If we want to get people involved and make the Arts Experience Hour successful, it will need money and professional organization and management.

Learning about the Arts and our Audiences

Vancouver offers lots of opportunities to experience the arts. The Arts Experience Hour gives audiences the opportunity to learn more about the range and nature of the arts experiences available by offering a convenient time and a low threshold to explore.

This ‘time’ can also give artists and arts providers the opportunity to identify, learn more about and determine ways to overcome perceptual barriers and stimulate audiences to want more and engage more. The idea of the Hour is to positively influence people’s perceptions, interests and behaviour to get them interested in doing more and different things. The Hour also gives arts providers the opportunity to engage audiences in conversation around their interests, feelings, perceptions and responses to their experience of the arts to learn more about them and what would interest and attract them.


The Vancouver Board of Trade hosts nearly 500 events annually and regularly emails notices to its members. These events, the Vancouver Board of Trade email program and the Vancouver Board of Trade website could all be used to get the word out to raise awareness of the Arts Experience Hour and provide information about Arts Experience Hour events. This could work well with and as part of the Spirit of Vancouver Campaign. The Vancouver Board of Trade could also collaborate with the Arts Experience Hour to create and co-host events

Tourism Vancouver could include information about the Arts Experience Hour and Arts Experience Hour events in its promotional communications to visitors. Vancouver Visitor Attractions could also become venues and promote the Arts Experience Hour and Arts Experience Hour events to their customers to create more interest and activity for their venues.

Collaborations with the Business Improvement Associations may be the best way to create and organize venues with interested restaurants, clubs or retail merchants.

Venues like the Vancouver Public Library, the Vancouver Civic Theatres, the Vancouver Art Gallery, lobby areas in the HSBC building and the BC Gas building and other public spaces might be coordinated by the City of Vancouver for the Arts Experience Hour producer. Cadillac Fairview and others with major retail and commercial facilities might be interested in using the Hour as an opportunity to create events to attract people to their venues.

Collaborations to program events at venues like art galleries or theatres could be coordinated by the Arts Experience Hour producer.

Since food could be an important consideration to attract and enhance Arts Experience Hour events, restaurants and food catering services could become active collaborators in creating and staging successful experiences.

Getting the Word Out

Media could be a big part of getting the word out. The hour would benefit from committed media partners and a solid interest and buy-in from the media. For example, getting the CBC interested in including the Hour as a segment in their programming would be helpful.

All of the participants and downtown based businesses that like to encourage their employees to participate or are looking for activities for their employees to do together could communicate Arts Experience Hour events through their in-house communication vehicles. Information about events can be provided by the Arts Experience Hour via email with links to a website.

There are lots of creative ideas. Getting the communication and marketing people from the arts organizations together would be good way to explore ideas on what might work best to promote and stimulate audience interest in the Arts Experience Hour and, through the Arts Experience Hour, to stimulate more interest in the experiences offered by the arts providers.

Ongoing Questions

What else might the Arts Experience Hour become?
What would make it work best for participants?
What will the project need for it to work successfully?
How do we get it started?
What is needed to get it started?
How is it financed?
Who do we need to engage in the project to make it successful?
How do we engage them?
How do we get artists and arts providers engaged?
How do we get the business community engaged?
How do we get the media engaged?
How do we get the public engaged?

June 27, 2013