The London Heritage Council and The London Arts Council presented their plan for revitalizing London’s art and culture scene on April 3 at the London Convention Centre to an audience of 400.
“[The Cultural Prosperity Plan] has the capacity to broaden understanding and collaborations, enhance London’s continued evolution as a leading community in Canada for cultural workers to live, incubate new ideas, and deliver culture to all facets of our community,” Andrea Hawla, executive director of the London Heritage Council, said. “At the moment, the culture plan is in the early stages. The councils have just begun consulting members of the community.”
“The beauty of this process is that we’re not going into the process with the plan already written,” Hawla said. The Convention Centre presentation also included a chance for attendees to bring up their ideas and concerns.
“Feedback from the event was excellent as people were given an opportunity to participate at the grassroots level.”
Londoners also got a chance to share their opinions with the London Heritage Council at a meeting at the Forest City Gallery before the presentation. Julia Beltrano, the gallery’s director, arranged the event.
“I spoke with Hawla about setting up an information session at Forest City Gallery as an open discussion group to collect some of that data so that artists and people who enjoy the arts could weigh in,” she said.
“I think that one of the major things that can be done is to recognize the organizations and the artists that we have here and celebrate those that are here,” Sandra De Salvo, director of the London ARTS Project, said. “By doing that, I think we’re going to attract more organizations and artists to the space and of course that will expand the public that attends and supports those artists and organizations.”
Another aim of the CPP is to show how culture plays a big part in peoples’ lives, whether they know it or not.
“We’re helping them to identify with how ingrained culture is in their lives so they can self-identify and participate naturally in the conversation,” Hawla said. “We often hear [...] that a person does not consider him or herself a culture person. This statement is just not realistic in today’s society.”
The webpage for the CPP lists several activities which qualify as cultural. If you listen to music, read books, watch movies, or participate in sports, you are taking part in a cultural activity.
Instead of going to another summer blockbuster, Beltrano suggests people try seeing an independent movie, or visit an art gallery or museum.
“Lots of these art galleries are free or by donation,” Beltrano said. “They’re free or by donation for a reason. We want to have as many people come out and enjoy what we have to offer as possible.”
De Salvo also urged citizens of London to go out independently and discover for themselves the city’s art scene.
“There are a lot of Londoners who are not aware of the great things that are happening here,” De Salvo said. “And those Londoners, when they discover them, are amazed they didn’t know this was happening right under their own noses.”