Pitching cultural programs and facilities may seem tenuous when residents are faced with financial uncertainty and businesses are facing challenges.
But as was pointed out during a Vernon and Coldstream mayoralty forum Thursday, there is a direct connection between the arts and economic recovery.
Companies looking to set up shop are attracted to communities that have a vast array of amenities that will appeal to owners and employees. Not only are many of these people wanting to pursue personal interests, they want to ensure there are activities that broaden their children’s horizons.
Many people in large urban centres are also looking to relocate to a smaller community upon retirement but they don’t want to give up the cultural attractions they had access to.
And then there is the issue of tourism, and increasingly, many baby boomers with expendable dollars are selecting holiday destinations based on culture.
But just as roads and water lines age, the community’s culture infrastructure isn’t keeping up with the times.
Specifically, the Vernon Public Art Gallery and Greater Vernon Museum don’t have climate and lighting controls to ensure the integrity of precious artifacts. Cramped storage puts some items in precarious situations and there isn’t sufficient space to host the exhibits and programs residents crave.
Yes a new cultural complex could cost $12 million, but it would be a direct investment in the economy as well as the livability of the region.
But for the community to progress, Vernon and Coldstream require civic leaders with the required vision.
—The Morning Star