PEI Confederation Centre Young Company

Arts Focus Group Notes

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Arts Focus Group 

Dalvay by the Sea

June 2, 2016

Participants

  • Alanna Jankov – The Guild/Professional Theatre Network
  • Charlene Belsher – Old General Store
  • Laura Cole – PEI Crafts Council
  • Rob Oakie – Music PEI
  • Pat Smith – Victoria Playhouse/Community of Victoria/Professional Theatre Network
  • Daphne and Ian Scott – New London Village Pottery
  • Linda McCausland Artisan on Main – Montague
  • Bernadette Power – ACOA

Notes from the this focus group are as follows:

  • Arts, culture heritage is essential/vital to the success of the Island’s tourism industry. Culture is difficult to define. It involves so many disciplines. It’s a hugely important umbrella that is ready to take center stage. It is widely spread across PEI with a strong presence in both urban and rural communities.
  • Desire to shift the reference from arts industries to creative Industries which includes perspectives of enterprise development and entrepreneurship, media, communications, business studies, etc.
  • There lacks an integrated strategy for developing the creative industries as a tourism product.
  • There is work to be done in the arts community to stress the importance of being part of tourism.

Marketing

  • Crafts were highly visible in tourism promotion back in the ‘70’s. This is not so much the case now. When possible, local talent/product should be used in marketing and promotion (e.g. musicians, videographers, pottery, etc.)
  • PEI was slow in recognizing that the people coming were not just family and children. Efforts are required to ensure we are reaching more than just the visitor seeking beaches and family restaurants.
  • Gentle Island – does it still apply? If so, it’s pretty narrow.
  • Strong focus on golf the past few years. Culinary has slowly been making its way into the scene. Culture, with the exception of Anne, is not a focus in marketing by tourism.
  • Arts haven’t been promoted up until recently with the introduction of the Arts and Heritage Trail. Despite culture being a pillar – it hasn’t stepped into its own in the provincial campaigns.
  • There are so many groups vying for marketing dollars.
  • Islanders are on stages around the world performing and could be playing a more active role in promoting PEI as tourism destination. Music PEI would like to see a coordinated approach with government to create an ambassador program to capitalize on this opportunity.
  • For the tourism strategy to expect us to become our own promoter is unreasonable.
  • Elimination of the two districts in eastern PEI has had a dramatic effect. When there were two regions, visitors planning would naturally plan a couple of days in each. Now because it is one region, visitor think they can do it in one day and that’s just not possible.

Arts and Heritage Trail

  • The Arts and Heritage Trail requires more long term, stable government support.
  • Timeliness of the development of marketing collateral isn’t ideal. Producing collateral in the spring for the current season doesn’t lend itself well to getting the information into the hands of visitors in a timely fashion. Websites, however can make a significant difference in bridging this.
  • The app developed for the trail works well and demonstrates the importance of technology. In this case, it is providing visitors details of the product as well directing them to the place of business.
  • The trail has tremendous potential. There is a need to educate the general public and the industry stakeholders on the trail, its membership, etc.

Product Development

  • Experiential tourism offers tremendous potential for the arts – giving visitors the opportunity to see and participate in the creation of art.
  • With the number of theatres across PEI, there may be an opportunity for a theatre tour.
  • There is a need for a Provincial Museum. This could have been the PEI 2014 legacy.

Festival and Events Sector

  • There is a fine line with festival and events and new is not always good.
  • Festivals are sometimes not supported long enough by government(s) to ensure long term success.
  • What is the role of the festival? Drive visitation, create awareness of the destination/product, combination both, etc.?

Barriers to growth

  • The timeliness of government funding creates challenges as it is often last minute.
  • The arts community is a group of individuals represented by a variety of different organizations dues to the various disciplines and results in that ‘one’ strong voice to represent/coordinate it.
  • Professional Development is required in areas including, but not limited to, basic business skills, social media and technology, marketing, experiential tourism, etc. Music PEI’s role is to help artisan’s develop the business skills necessary to be successful. Can that model be applied to the other arts disciplines?
  • Training for the arts is not available as it once was. The elimination of the Visual Arts program has left a void. Students are now going off-Island for training and do they come back?
  • Because of the nature of the industry in that many are contract workers, access to skills/employment programming is often a challenge. Specifically in cases where the candidate needs to be employment insurance eligible to qualify.
  • When we rely so much on government partner – short term contracts not effective. Longer term funding would create stability.
  • Operators need to support the industry and open early enough in the spring to ensure visitors have a quality experience.
  • Many are waiting for government to lead, however industry needs to step up and be the leader. Take responsibility for their business success.
  • Does the tax rebate program for foreign visitor purchases still exist? If not, can it be reintroduced?

Cultural Strategy

  • Discussions are ongoing regarding the development of strategy for the cultural/creative industry. While a cultural coalition has been created, there is still question over who is leading the initiative. Government? Industry? If industry, what group?
  • Where tourism and culture once shared a provincial department, this is no longer the case. Culture is now under the Department of Education, Early Learning, and Culture. The separation of culture from tourism is of concern. Does government recognize the importance of the arts to tourism? Perception is that culture has taken a small ‘c’ given the breadth of the new department and the demands of the education portfolio.

Partnerships

  • Progress has been made on this within the arts community on industry partnerships however there is still opportunity and need to improve partnerships with government. The cultural coalition and the Arts and Heritage Trail is an example of this. However there is room to strengthen communication within the sector.

Technology

  • Technology has changed significantly and is transforming the way businesses operate.
  • There is still room to work with the arts community to adopt technology (websites, social media, etc.). Many are still without a basic website.