The creative economy is a theme usually associated with larger urban centres. However, a growing body of research and practice is demonstrating its equal importance in small towns and rural areas. The Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto recently released a series of research papers and a report on rural Ontario’s creative economy, including some interesting lessons on rural economic development in the creative economy. Opportunities relate to the growing number of small and medium-sized creative businesses responding to new consumer demands for original and local place-based products and services in the fields of information technology, graphic design, food, wine, and hospitality – to name a few. Cultural resources have been shown to play a central role in creative rural economy strategies.
This was driven home at a recent conference on Economic Revitalization convened by the Monieson Centre at Queen’s University. In a panel discussion on Arts Networks and the Rural Creative Economy, a presentation by Professor Betsy Donald, of Queen’s University, developed the notion of “the art of the rural” as essential to rural economic development strategies. This includes crafting a unique regional identity for rural places and developing a multidisciplinary and multifaceted approach that links identity creation, cultural development and economic development.
-From Miller Dickinson Blais