Niagara’s ripe with the fruits of their culture
Published: Monday, March 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2012 15:07
Even though it’s a pile of dirt surrounded by fencing right now, the future home of the Performing Arts Centre is already being touted as the catalyst for a cultural and physical revival of downtown St. Catharines. Yet – long before it is even completed – St. Catharines, as well as the rest of the Niagara Region, will be celebrating one of the greatest fruits this Region has to offer: its culture.
On Oct.14, 2011, it was announced that the Niagara Region would share the title of Cultural Capital of Canada with Calgary, AB. The Region was picked in part because of the rich history that is associated with the War of 1812 – which will celebrate its bicentennial during Niagara’s reign as cultural capital – a history that is tied to the idea of national identity as a whole. On March 21, 2012, Niagara celebrated the official launch of their year as cultural capital with a celebration at the Niagara Region Headquarters.
“This is an exciting year of cultural celebration in Niagara with a program of 26 events, activities, performances, art installations and more, all across the Region,” said Niagara Region Chair Gary Burroughs in a press release.“Everyone is invited to join in our year of celebration.”
The Cultural Capital of Canada program was initiated in May of 2002 as a national program intended to “recognize and support Canadian municipalities for special activities that harness the many benefits of arts and culture in community life”, according to the Canadian Heritage Web site. The objective recognizes the specific municipalities who have applied and succeeded in securing the distinction, but also supports them though funding. Municipalities honoured with the distinction are able to see the benefit of arts and culture within their specific communities – all the while attempting to “stimulate sustained community support for the arts and heritage”.
The Niagara Region will receive nearly 2.3 million dollars (a combined investment via the Government of Canada and the Niagara Region) to celebrate the theme “Crossing Boundaries: Niagara’s Creative Spirit,” a year-long program that will include contemporary art exhibits, 1812 bicentennial celebrations and interpretations and digital and multi-media exhibits – for a total of 26 events. Yet, this is not the first time that Niagara is investing in its culture.
In 2010, Niagara Regional Council developed and implemented its first Cultural Plan for the Region, focusing on “strategic actions” meant to strengthen the creativity in all facets of society that exists in the area. This plan was “a critical component” in the successful application for the Cultural Capital of Canada distinction, according to a Niagara Region press release.
“The purpose of the Culture Plan is to support the creative economy and development of the creative cultural sector,” said Councillor Douglas Joyner, Niagara Region Culture Committee Co-Chair in the release.“Niagara’s Cultural Capital of Canada program is bringing the Culture Plan to life, stimulating our creative sector and enriching our communities.”
For a full listing of events that fall within the Crossing Boundaries theme, as well as ways for community members to get involved, please visit the 2012 Niagara Cultural Capital of Canada Web site at niagaraculture2012.ca