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COLUMN: Direction is a hot topic for Mission’s Arts and Culture division

The first Creative Conversation asked participants to imagine the year 2040
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At the most recent Creative Conversation we asked for the participants to consider several topics, drawn from the projects and priorities that have been established. The ideas and thoughts were insightful, creative, inspiring, and informative, and we used all these ideas for our Family Day engagement at the Leisure Centre. People could add ideas of their own or use stickers to show they supported an idea already proposed. / Submitted Photo

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.”

– Buddha

Direction is a hot topic for the Arts and Culture division these days, as we collect ideas, feedback and opinions to update the Culture section of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan. The idea of a document like this is to set the direction for the short (5 years) medium (10 years) and long (15 years) term and give us milestones to work towards.

Our overarching long-term goal was defined at our very first Creative Conversation when we asked the participants to imagine the year 2040; Mission has a thriving Culture Hub that has been open for a few years, how does it serve and reflect the community? How can we build a community vision for this place over the next few years? What is offered there that isn’t currently available? How do we build more community through culture and creativity?

Some of the information that came out of that session is high interest in a digital maker space or media lab, with 3D printers being a popular idea for what we love in 2040. Creativity rooted in the environment and the climate emergency were consistent themes, as was the need for more in-depth programs and opportunities for youth.

At our most recent Creative Conversation we asked for the participants to consider several topics, drawn from the projects and priorities that have been established. The ideas and thoughts were insightful, creative, inspiring, and informative, and we used all these ideas for our Family Day engagement at the Leisure Centre. People could add ideas of their own or use stickers to show they supported an idea already proposed.

All of this and more will go into setting the direction we will present to Council as part of the Master Plan update. There will also be an online survey, pop-up engagements, and in March we’ll be rotating the engagement boards through the Leisure Centre lobby so people can offer ideas or support an idea with a sticker.

The broad categories we were looking at were Outdoor Creative Spaces, Utilizing the Clarke Theatre, Building Towards Reconciliation, Creative and Cultural Hub, Supporting Community Building, and Capacity Building.

If you haven’t heard about the engagement sessions and would like to, email culture@mission.ca and I’ll add you to our list! You are invited to send in your thoughts on Arts and Culture in Mission, and I can also share the thoughts and ideas collected so far. Chances are if you’ve read this far, you have thoughts, ideas, or observations that would be valuable to the process, and I would love to hear from you.

Maybe you’re more informal and would just like to chat over coffee? I’ve got you covered. I’ll be at the Penny from 11-2 on Saturday, March 9 for just this purpose. All ideas and feedback are welcome, have a coffee on me and I’d love to chat about some of the things we’re looking at in the near term.

Mission has an exciting opportunity for a BC Heritage Site in Centennial Park. This will be an amenity that is designed after a Japanese tea house, which will have an interpretive element that will document the Japanese pioneer families of Mission but will also function as an indoor/outdoor space for small performances. I imagine a string quartet, or children’s puppet theatre in the summer. What do you think?

I’m also very keen to build an online resource for the City, modeled after the North Shore Culture Compass (https://www.northshoreculturecompass.ca/). Being able to have heritage sites, artists, public institutions, service organizations, festival and events, cultural spaces, natural sites and more easily available in one location is something that’s come up over and over again during my first year here. I’d love to hear thoughts on this, it’s a project we’re looking at moving forward with in the very near future.

Another big, and important topic is how do we get the word out there? Especially, how do we reach people outside the bubble? How can we ignite the creative spark in people, groups and the greater community, especially if they feel they “aren’t creative”?

I spoke with a gentleman at the Riot of Reading, where we were promoting Your Stories Our Mission. He said right off the top that he didn’t have any interesting stories, but as we chatted it turns out he’s worked all over the world, installing playground equipment in over 30 countries. Then he told me about visiting the Kremlin, and started to realize he had some awesome stories. To me this represented the best of what we try to do, using creative initiatives to help people reexamine their reality and community, and see the wonder and beauty within it.

– Mark Haney is Mission’s manager of arts and culture