LIFT Startups is inviting entrepreneurs and creatives from across the Island to join us in the Comox Valley for our third WinterpreneurFest event on February 1. Tickets are available online. This year our event is sponsored by The Creator Space and we’re drawing attention to the “cultural entrepreneurs” who are making economic shift happen on the Island. To help us understand the importance of this sector, we’ve invited Patricia Huntsman to be our keynote on February 1. Also on the agenda are presentations from cultural entrepreneurs in music (Avigdor Schulman), painting (Esther Sample), dance (Gwen Spinks), theatre (Kymme Patrick), film (Daniel Kooman), and publishing (Ian Adams). We’ll wrap things up with one of our signature We’ll wrap things up with one of our signature #WeAreYQQ entrepreneur after parties thanks to #WeAreYQQPartyCrew Boss Leanne Zdebiak-Eni and our amazing volunteers. Below is my interview with Patricia (PH) about her work and the “cultural economy” on the Island.


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HPM: Who is Patricia Huntsman, and why should we be interested in what you have to say about our Island “cultural economy?”

PH: I’m a cultural policy and planning consultant. I’m based in BC and I’ve been running my consultancy since 2009. Before that, I worked nationally and internationally in senior roles in the creative industry.

The topic of cultural entrepreneurship and economy is timely. It has been said that “Where oil was the primary fuel to the 20th-century economy, creativity is the fuel to the 21st century.”  I think this quote resonates with what we’re seeing on the Island.

In Canada, there’s a 53.4 billion dollar direct impact of cultural goods and services on our economy. This is surpassing agriculture, forestry, and fishing combined. People on the Island – anywhere, really – should be interested in learning more about the economic value of culture, and why we should support and invest in it. Perhaps more importantly, we should know how to leverage it to achieve both community and economic development aims.

HPM: I’ve used the term “cultural economy” to describe this, but I think you use another term. Can you explain?

PH: When people talk about the “cultural economy,” they are often referring to what is globally understood as the “creative economy,” which is a concept that describes creativity as it applies to an entire economy.

Part of what I do is to help people understand the language of (and know the difference between) culture, cultural industries, creative ecosystems, and the creative economy. A creative economy is one driven by ideas, innovation, knowledge, diversity, collaboration, and creativity. It encompasses the creative industries in which ideas and intellectual property produce value and generate wealth. It is the combined complex collection of industrial, creative, and cultural service sectors.

HPM: What can we be doing to support growth in the “creative economy” in our Island communities?

PH: We’re lucky. Vancouver Island is already seeing emerging creative clusters and hubs. These provide wonderful opportunities for the incubation of ideas, networking, and cultural production.

By cultural clusters and hubs I mean the geographic area where there are concentrations of cultural activities, bringing people together. These can be arts and cultural venues, cultural businesses, or creative industries. Cultural clusters and hubs can regenerate neighbourhoods and attract new residents and services. A great example is the Fernwood neighbourhood in Victoria, or Tin Town in Courtenay. You can see the impact in what’s emerging in Cumberland.

I’ve been able to work with several Island communities and organisations that want to benefit from the creative economy. My approach is to help communities grow their cultural ecosystem using a place-based approach: understanding and valuing “Who You Are” and “How You Live” as a community. This gets away from the “hype” that sometimes surrounds the  enthusiasm about the “creative economy.” It grounds it, makes it more authentic and meaningful to the larger community.

HPM: Any last words?

PH: Yes. Culture and creativity are vital to building strong, sustainable, and vibrant communities. We’re seeing this around the world. Culture and creativity are significant drivers and enablers of our local economies and our communities.

I’m delighted to be part of the third LIFT WintrepreneurFest. These kinds of events are important opportunities for Island creatives and entrepreneurs to connect, to learn, and to grow. Cultivating this mix of culture, technology and entrepreneurship in communities is where I flourish. Thank you for inviting me to be your keynote!

by Hans Peter Meyer,
founder of LIFT Startups
@hanspetermeyer on Twitter

FMI about Patricia Huntsman please see:

WinterpreneurFest3 Special Event Sponsor
Thanks to WinterpreneurFest3 Special Event Sponsor The Creator Space at thecreatorspace.com in the Comox Valley.

LIFT Solution Sponsors and Community Partners
LIFT Startups provides collaborative business and marketing services and experiences on Vancouver Island and beyond.

LIFT is generously supported by the following

Solution Sponsors:

Sure Copy Courtenay,  Mastermynde Strategy, 50th Parallel PR, Finneron Hyundai, Jabin Postal Films, Presley & Partners, 98.9 The GOAT, and

Community Partners:

Atlas Cafe, Island Word, My Tech Guys, McKinnon Photography, Gladstone Brewing, Island Soul Films, Investors’ Group, The Creator Space, and Douglas Magazine


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