My Address To Vancouver 2050: Creative City

On Saturday, April 24, 2010,  we staged Vancouver 2050: Creative City, a forum called to envision the city of Vancouver as a creative city in the year 2050. Moderated by Max Wyman, the forum featured addresses by Maestro Bramwell Tovey, Music Director of theVancouver SymphonyNorman Armour, Artistic Director of the PUSH FestivalAmber Dawn, Director of the Queer Screen Film Festival and Hank Bull, Executive Director of Centre A.

A panel consisting of Miro Cernetig, columnist with the Vancouver Sun; Howard Jang, Executive Director, Arts Club Theatre; David Lemon, Executive & Artistic Director, Health Arts Society; Bernard Magnan, Chief Economist, Vancouver Board of Trade; and Vanessa Richards, Director of Community Engagement Through The Arts, Simon Fraser University; discussed those presentations with the speakers and then the floor was opened up to the audience for a lengthy debate of the ideas presented.

Our programme as downloadable PDF:  Vancouver_2050_Programme

The session lasted four hours and was well-attended by more than a hundred leaders of arts and culture from Greater Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. In the words of Impresario David YH Lui, the most important accomplishment of the event may be that it took place at all. According to Max Wyman, 1969 was the last time so many of the city’s arts leadership had gathered in one room for this kind of collaborative discussion. (A partial list of organizations attending appears at the bottom of this post.)

Opening Remarks to Moderator, Speakers, Panel & Audience. Photo: Tom Hudock

I’ll be writing more about the event later this week, but in the meantime, here are my introductory remarks at the opening of the meeting:

Good morning! It’s great to see so many friends in the theatre – it’s truly appreciated, especially at this ungodly hour. My name is Sean Bickerton and on behalf of the organizing committee it’s a pleasure to welcome you all to Vancouver 2050: Creative City.

I’m very much a product of the arts institutions gathered in this room. I played violin in the Vancouver Youth Orchestra, performed in joint concerts with the Vancouver Symphony, studied theory and piano at the Langley Community Music School, bused in with my drama class to plays at the Playhouse, competed in Friends of Chamber Music, went to my first Opera, Carmen, produced by the VOA at the QE, saw Rubinstein thanks to Hugh Pickett, the National Ballet thanks to David YH Lui, and Jesse Norman thanks to Leila Getz’ recital series among many other highlights.

It was that rich cultural background which made it possible for a kid from Cloverdale to end up in New York as a Vice President of Columbia Artists producing tours for great artists and ensembles. That experience in New York wouldn’t have been possible without the organizations represented in this room.

So I’m sold! I’m a total fan!

But what about the general public? What, to badly paraphrase one of our panelists, Vanessa Richards, would it take to transform the public perception of local arts and culture in the same way that people’s perceptions of BC wine and local produce have been transformed in recent years?

BCs wine industry, like every industry,  needed an infrastructure put in place before it could start to thrive. Do the arts in this city have the basic infrastructure they need?

In addition to considering infrastructure in 2050, we also asked the speakers to address the issue of sustainability and enrichment of programs if possible.

Some people have asked why the year 2050? Because it is far enough away to allow us to think past our day to day existential battles and imagine something better. And because the future we don’t plan is already planning us.

Before I go, many thanks to the Arts Club Theatre, which has generously provided this Theater, a very helpful Staff & the sound system for today’s forum; to Max Wyman, for agreeing so kindly to moderate today’s proceedings; to our four amazing speakers for sharing their visions; our distinguished panel for adding their insights; our audience for lending their keen minds; my great partners on the organizing committee for their hard work and generosity of spirit; the Borealis String Quartet for their poetic beauty; and my husband Tom, who’s busy photographing and videotaping the proceedings.

Thanks are also due to Tourism Vancouver for sponsoring the transcription of the proceedings; Kulture Shock Media for the website and printing of programmes; and Sean Farrell of NG Farrell Sports & Culture Marketing for helping out today.

Thanks to you all!

Today’s moderator needs no introduction, but deserves a good one. He is widely admired as a man of integrity and one of our country’s great cultural thinkers and commentators. It’s both an honour and personal pleasure to introduce as our Moderator, today … Max Wyman!

Organizations attending: Community Arts Council of Vancouver, Vancouver City Council, Diane Farris Gallery, Independent Times, Vancouver Symphony, Vancouver Su, Ballet BC, Langley Community Music School, Health Arts Society, UBC Arts Umbrella, Vancouver Pro Musica, Vancouver Board of Trade, Centre A, Arts Club Theatre, Alliance for the Arts, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Play Creative Design, Vancouver Symphony, SFU, UBC, City of Richmond, Neworld Theatre, 42nd Street, Tyee, Heritage Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, Roede House Museum, explorAsian, City Opera, Arts Advocacy BC, Eastide Culture Crawl, Writers Festival, Vancouver Cantata Singers, 2010 Legacies Now, Canadian Heritage, Vancouver Biennale, Bard on the Beach, PuSh Festival, Metro Vancouver, Knowledge TV Network, VanCity, International Centre of Arts for Social Change, Art Space Action, False Creek Residents Association, Music on Main, Out Film Festival, Electric Company, Vancouver Opera Association, Vancouver Playhouse.