Nelson council agreed on March 16 to fund a $30,000 study to determine the size of the arts and culture sector in Nelson and the extent of its contribution to the local economy.
The decision follows a presentation to council on March 3 from Andrea Wilkey of the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership in which she stated that the arts sector, and particularly performing arts, were the hardest hit sector in the pandemic, along with the food and beverage sector.
“They have been devastated,” said Councillor Cal Renwick at the March 16 meeting, speaking in favour of the funding.
“We have done our part for the business community (during the pandemic) and (the arts sector) are really struggling, and I wholeheartedly agree.”
Councillor Keith Page said the study will give the city valuable data for decisions in the future.
“I want to have it finished so we know exactly how to target our investments come the fall,” he said.
The study would be conducted by a research team at the Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College.
A 2003 study concluded that the net economic impact of arts and heritage in Nelson was $75-million, including spin-off employment and tourism spending. That study is considered to be out of date.
It was agreed that $30,000 will not be enough to produce a study as comprehensive as the 2003 document but funding may be found to expand it, and the priority now is to get it started.
The study proposal includes Nelson’s immediate neighbours, Areas E and F of the Regional District of Central Kootenay, but Mayor John Dooley suggested it should also include Area H (Slocan Valley).
He added that three of the biggest local performance events — Kaslo Jazz, Shambhala, and Starbelly Jam — are not located in any of those areas.
“So this could be bigger than it is on paper today, but is a good starting point for us all to get a feel for where we are at, and expand in the future,” he said.