Waterloo launches ten year ‘culture plan’

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The City of Waterloo is looking to get more cultured.

Recently, the city developed a culture plan after beginning research in 2011. The project outlines six goals, such as strengthening the community’s cultural heritage and fostering collaborations in the culture sector, and aims to foster a more arts-based community in Waterloo over an estimated time period of ten years.

“Waterloo is beginning to get a reputation as a global community and our future success depends on bright minds from around the world coming here,” said Mark Whaley, a city of Waterloo councillor. “We’ve been successful on the business side and there are a lot of technology companies that have started up here, but we have to give global citizens a reason to come here.”

He explained the municipality is focused on providing these amenities to ensure Waterloo is a more enjoyable place.

“Not just for the people who live here now, but for the people we want to attract in the future,” he continued.

Whaley said that the city spent two years consulting a broad range of people within the community, including individuals based in residential, artistic and vocational areas, and ultimately came together with 37 specific recommendations and six overall goals.

There will also be a member on staff for one year whose role will be dedicated to bringing these 37 recommendations to reality.
While this plan is slowly coming into effect, the arts community  is eager for the changes to begin.

“[The city of Waterloo] too know that the things in the cultural world are broken here. They hear from people like me and [others] every year, like how are you going to make us sustainable? How are you going to help us? We do want a vibrant cultural community here.

They’re not dumb, they realize something is broken,” said David Marskell, current CEO for THEMUSEUM.
While one of the motivations is to attract more citizens by devoting more attention to culture, this new plan greatly effects the pre-existing arts community.

Marksell believes that this plan has been a long time coming in terms of mending communication between the arts community and government.

“I do applaud them for doing this and thinking into the future. I do think there’s a lot broken in the cultural landscape of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge,” Marksell said “It’s really tough for cultural organizations here because the funding isn’t at the appropriate levels. It’s not equal and it’s not by merit.”

A document of the culture plan outlines a strong collaboration between the city of Waterloo and the current residents of the town—over 700 local residents gave their input. This was then combined with information on the current culture in Waterloo specifically, and cultural development from neighbouring communities.

When compared to other cultural communities, Whaley explained that Waterloo “has a way to go.”

“The arts scene is something you can invest in and get a return.”

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