Manitoba Post Articles

State of the City
Brian Bowman

Winnipeg’s a thriving, diverse, modern city that is well on its way to one million people strong. A key part of supporting our growing city is continuing with investments in Winnipeg’s vibrant arts and culture industry. They are integral to our quality of life and have many spinoff benefits to our economy.

A great recent example is when Ubisoft, one of the world’s premier interactive entertainment and gaming companies, announced they’d be opening up shop in Winnipeg with a $35 million investment.

A gaming company represents an interesting cross-section of technology and arts sector jobs where movie production meets the interactivity of the high tech gaming world. Ubisoft was very interested in Winnipeg’s diversity, the pipeline of local talent, and Winnipeg’s position as a growing city.

During my recent address to the 12th annual Mayor’s Luncheon for the Arts and Winnipeg Arts Council Awards in early June, I was happy to express continued support for the arts and culture industry and the economic benefits of investing in the industry.

The Winnipeg Arts Council has hosted the Mayor’s Luncheon for the Arts and Winnipeg Arts Council Awards since 2007 as a celebration of Winnipeg's artistic achievements and as a way to recognize individuals and partnerships contributing to Winnipeg’s arts and culture sector.

During my address, I highlighted how important Winnipeg’s thriving arts and culture scene is when attracting talented people to either return or start fresh in Winnipeg.

When attracting individuals and businesses to Winnipeg, it is important that they can hear the ‘voice’ of Winnipeg and imagine themselves here in our neighbourhoods, in our downtown arts hub, in intimate and unique music venues throughout the city, in concert auditoriums, in small galleries or being part of major cultural events.

While the arts and culture industry certainly contributes to how the world sees Winnipeg, it also provides significant economic benefits estimated to be about one billion dollars annually. For every dollar of municipal investment into arts and culture, it is estimated to attract another $18 in support to local non-profit arts and cultural organizations from federal and provincial governments, and private sources.

There were many years prior to 2014 when city grant funding in support of artists was essentially frozen or increased only marginally. Since 2014, civic funding to the Winnipeg Arts Council has increased by $563,000 and it has resulted in significantly greater direct investment into the arts.

Investment in arts and culture does require both public and private investment. The recent groundbreaking of the Inuit Art Centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is a prime example of governments partnering with the private sector. Winnipeg will become the best place to celebrate Indigenous art and culture, but more importantly it will help create a better understanding about truth and reconciliation in our city and beyond.

As we move forward, we need to continue involving artists from the ground up as our city grows. As well, one of the key responsibilities of the City’s new Advisory Committee on Heritage, Culture, & the Arts, created this last January as recommended in the Mayor’s Task Force on Heritage, Culture, & the Arts, is to ensure the long-term success of Winnipeg’s vibrant arts, heritage, and cultural industries and make Winnipeg an even better place to live, work, and build a career.

We all know Winnipeg artists, musicians, and authors are among the best in the world. If these people don’t thrive here, we end up borrowing our culture, and we end up borrowing our vision of ourselves. And as Winnipeg’s population grows, we need to ensure our support for this industry is not eroded.


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