Port Coquitlam has a new guide to steer the arts scene over the next 10 years — a document that Mayor Greg Moore said last month he hopes won’t “sit on the shelf.”
The Imagine Port Coquitlam Cultural Plan is the latest civic vision to roll out in the Tri-Cities, a blueprint for how arts, cultural and heritage events, programs, services and facility operations will be delivered over the next decade.
While Coquitlam is still working on its $100,000 arts vision — as part of a recreation master plan — and Port Moody is gearing up to study its next concept, PoCo has already laid the groundwork for how it will achieve its goals.
And the first to be checked off will be hiring a cultural development and community services manager, a new position that some councillors voted against at budget time in May given the financial pressures facing the city.
Recreation director Lori Bowie said the arts manager is expected to be in place this fall and will use “Imagine” as a launch pad to set up an external festivals committee as well as to start a cultural roundtable — one in which PoCo artists can network and share ideas with the municipality.
“What we are hoping for with this plan is that we will bring the A/E community together to see what we can do,” Bowie said from her office in the Leigh Square Community Arts Village, the downtown cultural hub.
Local artists are an untapped resource, she said, and can often feel isolated. She’d like to see them included as artists-in-residence in high-traffic, non-traditional locations — that is, away from galleries and into city parks, for example.
Visual artists, musicians, dancers and actors can also animate the many events throughout the year such as May Days, the CP Rail Holiday Train party — of which PoCo is the last stop on the national journey — and Canada Day.
And, for downtown summer events, like the PoCo Grand Prix and car show, entertainment can become a major attraction, which in turn provides greater economic spin-offs for retailers.
Bowie would like to see more creative partnerships with the business improvement association (BIA) like staging organized window displays. “These types of things can re-energize the community and foster pride,” she said.
As for the Terry Fox Theatre — a proscenium venue attached to Terry Fox secondary that School District 43 turned into a rental facility last June, without consulting the municipality — Bowie said the city is monitoring its operations.
The Tri-City News has been unsuccessful to obtain the theatre’s year-end financial report despite repeated requests. On Tuesday, SD43 community relations manager Peter Chevrier said there will be now be no specific report available.
• To view the full Imagine Port Coquitlam Cultural Plan, go online to portcoquitlam.ca/culturalplan.