On June 10, 2004, I made a presentation to Vancouver City Council in support of an event called Spirit of Our Commonwealth, a celebration of the arts and cultures of commonwealth countries proposed and hosted by the Commonwealth of Learning, the only Commonwealth Agency headquartered outside Britain. The Commonwealth of Learning wanted to ensure Vancouver City Council approved of the initiative.
As the chair of the Arts and Culture Committee of the Downtown Vancouver Association, I represent the views of the Downtown Vancouver Association and what ideas we feel are in the interests of the City of Vancouver. Our interest is in contributing to ideas that establish Vancouver internationally as a City of Arts and Cultures and the Creative City of the twenty-first century.
The idea of hosting the Spirit of Our Commonwealth Celebration supports and reinforces everything we like to communicate about our city and the role we like to play in the world. It communicates our interest in improving our quality of life. It communicates our interest in celebrating the arts and the many diverse cultures of our world. And it communicates that we are a city rich with arts, cultures and creative endeavour.
I couldn’t imagine a more perfectly packaged opportunity. We don’t even need to bid for the privilege of holding this international celebration of excellence here.
We have an opportunity to carve out a niche on the international stage that is unique, important, and an inspiration to the world as a leadership city in exploring and celebrating our many cultures, in expressing our creativity, and in collaborating around learning to create a better future for the world.
We have the capacity to show how to do this and to demonstrate how it works.
We have the good fortune of having a leadership institution based in Vancouver, headed by respected and well-known world leaders in international development and distance learning. The Commonwealth of Learning is an international leader in open and distance learning that is making learning opportunities more available to more people around the world, a critical area of endeavour in creating social justice, equality and peace. This institution, the Commonwealth of Learning, is proposing to raise Vancouver on the world stage as a centre for Arts and Culture.
The event being proposed is a celebration of the importance and value of the arts and of our many diverse cultures. It also has the potential, in my opinion, of raising the importance of creating more open, accessible and universally available learning opportunities for everyone. It is an opportunity to further establish Vancouver as an International Centre for Arts and Cultures and Learning.
This is an opportunity we didn’t even have to create. It is an initiative being taken by an international organization that represents the interests of a range of diverse cultures and nations around the world that draws attention internationally to our city as we like to present ourselves.
This is an opportunity that every city that is conscious of this time and place in our history and our awareness of our opportunities for the future would envy. It speaks for who we are as a city, both to the people who live and work here, and to who we can be in our global community as a city of the future.
The Olympics have more profile as an international arena of excellence in performance and they give us profile on the international stage.
But the arts offer a superior arena for celebrating excellence because they also position us in the world, communicating who we are and who we like to be on the international stage.
The arts communicate ideas; create cross cultural communication; connect us around our common interests, feelings and understandings about ourselves; and increase our interest in learning more about one another and how we can live better together.
This is the kind of event that helps tell our story to the world. Not once but over many years
And in this case, it is the international communities of the commonwealth nations who are doing this for us. In the world of marketing, this is a dream.
I think we have to figure out how to make this work to position ourselves on the world stage that the Commonwealth of Learning is helping to create for us.
This event will realize its full potential if it attracts the interests and resources of the community and corporate partners who can benefit from making this celebration of excellence in the arts of our diverse cultures successful, and to find ways that it might work in the context of other initiatives.
I think the idea of creating an international Celebration of our Common Wealth of Arts and Cultures in our city is a unique opportunity for all of us. It is an opportunity for the City to tangibly demonstrate its interest and its nature as a centre for arts and cultures
The Commonwealth of Learning
The Commonwealth of Learning is an intergovernmental organization created by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 1987 to promote the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.
Hosted by the Government of Canada with headquarters in Burnaby, British Columbia, The Commonwealth of Learning is the world’s only intergovernmental organization solely concerned with the promotion and development of distance education and open learning.
Creating a Centre for the Arts
We live in a world where ideas are our most valuable resource and where understanding and appreciating one another and collaborating around common interests are critical to our future. We enjoy the most livable city in the world. We are a creative city. We are rich with artists, musicians, dancers, writers, actors, filmmakers, architects, designers, performers, creators, and creative thinkers. We have a quality of life that goes beyond our natural beauty and being part of a national culture that cares.
Our interests define our future. A city that collaborates around ideas will become the creative city of the future. We can show others what is possible and inspire them to reach for it. Collaboration is the creative exploration of ideas to create new things, new ways of doing things, and new enterprises. Collaboration is learning from the ideas and experience of other cultures. This is the world of the arts. We are a city of arts and cultures. If our interest is to attract and create more, this is what we can do.