Dockside Dialogues Event #1: Summary

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On Tuesday, May 5th, the first of five Dockside Dialogues events was hosted at Open Space Arts Society. Moderated by Khalil Akhtar of the CBC, the evening included lively conversation on the creative and cultural foundations that shape the City of Victoria, and on various approaches to strengthening the city’s arts and culture community.

We were honoured to have a great range and diverse panel to help explore the topic.  Panelists that participated included:

Jack Lohman – CEO, Royal BC Museum

Jane Butler McGregor – CEO, Victoria Conservatory of Music

Caleb Beyers – Creative Director, Caste Projects

Nick Blasko – Owner/Producer, Atomique Productions & Rifflandia

Helen Marzolf – Executive Director, Open Space Gallery

Jacquelyn Bortolussi – Local Artist

The dialogue was both enlightening and encouraging. Thoughts and ideas were presented and discussed among the panel, and some themes emerged. It was recognized that Victoria as an entity does not have one art and culture identity, but instead is a combination of established and emerging practices. As a result, the panel found no one solution to the questions posed, but they noted that collaboration between emerging artists and established institutions would strengthen arts organizations, and help to “create a city where we want to live, and one which people want to visit”.

This in turn resulted in further questions of what that collaboration looks like, how/where collaborative spaces are created, and what challenges Victoria’s artists face in finding success. Responses and further thoughts included the following:   

  • There is a renaissance taking place in Victoria – “The city is shedding its skin like a snake and getting ready to grow.”
  • Explore what is happening in other cities – ie: City-funded artists in residence
  • Work with building owners to turn empty space into pop up art studios.  – “The core of the city is suffering.”
  • Give people reasons to come out of their homes into the streets.
  • Being relevant and accessible increases arts participation and grows audiences.
  • Are high real estate prices in Vancouver an opportunity for Victoria to attract more artists?
  • Arts and culture is an economic driver and connects people in a positive way.
  • There is a dynamic relationship between arts and commerce – design in retail and commercial space creates a cultural experience.

Building on the theme of arts and culture within the city, Dockside Green looks to evolve the dialogue and themes from our first event to our second event on June 18th, where we will discuss the role of public space. The event will explore how these spaces craft the identity of Victoria and in turn how these spaces shape us as residents. Dockside Green looks forward to continuing the energy that has begun from our first event and we hope to see you there!

We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic – share them with us on social media, including the hashtag #docksidedialogues.

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