By: Greg Hasiuk – Practice Leader, Number TEN Architectural Group
Winnipeg has long been known for its flourishing music scene, historic architecture, delectable multicultural cuisine and its sizable population of creative, well-educated citizenry. Perhaps it’s the long, cold winters that nurture and encourage creative expression. It’s been said that our vast collection of affordable-to-rent character buildings contribute to our city’s creative gift, providing a treasure trove of artistic laboratories from which creative types can freely hone their craft. Or maybe there’s something in that occasionally brown tap water that causes us to punch above our weight in all things creative.
Whatever the root cause of this imaginative prowess, the fact is that Winnipeg is one creative city. And while difficult to measure objectively, this creativity offers real value for local residents, tourists and business travelers alike; making our everyday lives richer and our city ever more intriguing.
The creative sector drives innovation by acting as a catalyst for cultural enrichment and growth. Those who work in the creative economy are in the business of stimulating human emotions that raise our level of personal connection to objects, environments, or processes. Winnipeg’s creative sector defines our civic identity and plays a significant role in our economic prospects, directly employing more than 25,000 people in a wide variety of industries ranging from urban design and architecture, to multi-media, film, and music, to various arts, cultural and entertainment groups. Expanded strategic investment in the creative economy has the potential to make Winnipeg a more attractive place to live, do business in or visit.
The modern world is seeing an unprecedented level of workforce mobility. Cities that offer a flourishing cultural heart will be best positioned to attract and retain young, educated, creative people. Yet, all too often, the idea of growing our creative economy is absent from the city building discussion.
Through the creation of the Winnipeg Creative Council, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is setting out to undertake the important task of aligning the interests of Winnipeg’s creative economy and advocating for the importance of preserving and growing our creative assets. The idea is to position Winnipeg as Canada’s creative city, by bringing together leaders from a wide swath of creative businesses and organizations to work toward a common goal of developing and harnessing our cultural capital. Binding this group together is a common purpose to enrich Winnipeg’s cultural assets through the human experience.
While infrastructure priorities such as fixing potholes and building overpasses tend to dominate headlines and election campaigns, we must be careful to remember, as Assiniboine Park Conservancy President and CEO Margaret Redmond said at a recent Chamber business luncheon: “we have to continue to find a balance between those infrastructure investments that are necessities and those true legacy projects that build a great society; projects that make our mark on the world, reflect who we are and move us forward. After all, a well paved road or a beautiful bridge is only useful if you have destinations worth driving to.”
By forming the Winnipeg Creative Council, the Chamber is taking an important step toward developing the creative infrastructure that will pave Winnipeg’s road to a brighter, more enriching future.