creating communities without borders
On March 6, 2009, Janet Leduc of Heritage Vancouver and I invited sixteen leaders representing sixteen cultural communities in Vancouver to the Vancouver Art Gallery for a conversation with James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Minister responsible for Canadian Government investment in our cultural development. Everyone was given five minutes to contribute their point of view and their ideas on arts and culture in Canada to the conversation. This was my contribution.
“My name is Roger Chilton. I am a Director of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver and I chair the Arts and Culture Forum for the Downtown Vancouver Association. I have an idea, a few observations, and an opportunity to contribute which are in our common interests as a country and the common interests of our world.
The idea is to drop the word Official from your title and become known as the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Languages. It would be good for all Canadians and would communicate our unique character and creative resources as a country at this critical time in our history.
We are a country of many cultures. It is how we see ourselves, it is how the world sees us, and it is how we see the world.
The cultures of our aboriginal peoples, of which there are many in British Columbia and hundreds across our country, and the cultures of all the people who have come to Canada from other parts of the world, are our heritage. So removing the word Official would recognize our appreciation for the nature, richness, and importance of our multicultural heritage in shaping who we are as Canadians, and say a lot about who we are as Canadians to our world.
My observations are that we can’t create a future by fixing things that don’t work. We need to create new ideas, new interests, and new ways of seeing and doing things, – and we all need to be working together to create ideas that contribute to our ability to get along with one another, – and which contribute to our ability to communicate with one another across our cultural and language differences so we can learn more from one another, learn more about ourselves, learn more about each other, and learn the art of creating with one another.
Our different cultures are our creative resources and our wealth in the creative age, – and our arts are how we come to learn about and appreciate the contributions of our cultures.
We know this. So the question is, – what do we do? We are moving from a world built on the pursuit and celebration of money, power, and celebrity to a world that celebrates the pursuit of integrity, contribution and creativity. We have an opportunity to lead that change because of who we are and what we have to contribute.
We are a microcosm of the world. We have the ability to demonstrate how we can create a better world by learning about our different cultures, learning from our different cultures, and contributing to our different cultures in our country and in our communities around the world. We can learn from our different ways of seeing things, thinking about things, and doing things. We can learn how to communicate with our cultures, how to contribute to our cultures, and how to explore our common experiences, interests, and ideas, and create together in the creative age.
We are in a unique position at an important time in the history of Canada and of the world. We have the opportunity and ability to put Canada’s creative resources and creative contributions on the world’s stage. We have the opportunity to become known as creative Canada and to demonstrate how we can connect and communicate with one another to imagine, create, and learn the arts of creating a better world. We have the opportunity and the ability to explore, learn, and connect our country in the arts of creating and accelerate the cultural, community, and human development of our world.
Our government has the opportunity to excite creative ideas, initiatives, and enterprise and create an environment and a way of doing things that contributes to the culture of Canada, – as we are, as we are known, and as we would like to be known, – and improve our ability to contribute to our world and our heritage as Creative Canada.
What we are doing here today is how we will get there.”
Contributors to the conversation
Jeff Alexander, President, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Amir Ali Alibhai, Executive Director, Alliance for Arts and Culture
Norman Armour, Executive Director, PuSh International Performing Arts Festival
Kathleen Bartels, Executive Director, Vancouver Art Gallery
Lori Baxter, Director of 2010 Arts Legacies Now
Hank Bull, Executive Director, Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
Roger Chilton, Director, Community Arts Council of Vancouver
Ann Cowan, Executive Director, Simon Fraser University Downtown Vancouver Campus
Janet Leduc, Executive Director, Heritage Vancouver
Judith Marcuse, Co-Director, International Centre of Art for Social Change
Mike Robinson, Executive Director, Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
Donna Spencer, Artistic Producer, Firehall Arts Centre
Jay Uno, Executive Director, Vancouver TheatreSports League
Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles, Executive Director, Ballet British Columbia
James Wright, General Director, Vancouver Opera Association
Max Wyman, Chair, Regional Culture Committee, Metro Vancouver
Alliance for Arts and Culture
Community Arts Council of Vancouver
PuSh International Performing Arts Festival
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Vancouver Opera Association
Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver TheatreSports League
Firehall Arts Centre
International Centre of Art for Social Change
Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
Simon Fraser University School for the Contemporary Arts
Ballet British Columbia
2010 Legacies Now