By Courtney Klumper
The impact of the arts on tourism is both tangible and intangible. We can measure tickets sold, museum admissions, the number of seats filled at a concert. But it is those intangible aspects, the ones that defy strict measurements, like feelings and memories, that offer a clue as to why we travel in the first place.
Arts and culture could be a primary focus or secondary to another travel purpose, but when combined with other experiences, it is imprinted even more deeply into our memory. Whether your preferences are inclined towards outdoor adventure, culinary experiences or arts and culture, there are a few things all travel pursuits share.
First, there is the novelty of being somewhere new, exploring parts that were previously unknown to us. It is invigorating to navigate a new place, learning new street names as you make your way to your next destination, passing unfamiliar faces and landmarks.
Second, they feed our appetite — whether literally or figuratively — for new experiences. Art and cultural experiences draw people in: they are both personal and emotional. Two people can be at the same show and experience it differently, each leaving with unique memories.
There’s no doubt that the arts contribute a significant fiscal bonus to our economy. According to Statistics Canada research shared by the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario’s arts and culture sector represented close to $26.7 billion (yes, billion with a ‘b’) or 3.5% of the province’s GDP and over 300,000 jobs in 2017. That amount represents countless trips to museums, galleries, arts and music festivals, live theatre and other experiences, sustaining local economies and livelihoods.
And while the financial contribution can hardly be overstated, what resonates with travellers is a sense of place. Visiting a Mohawk artist at her studio reveals pieces of Indigenous history and tradition. A stroll (masked and distanced, of course) through the Gallery District shows how our surroundings influence the subject of local artists. Seeing a brightly-painted parklet underfoot while traversing the streets of downtown during a pandemic reminds us of how to find beauty in challenges.
Robert Stearns, the executive director of ArtsOasis in California, shared that, “Building the creative economy requires building the creative community.” The arts community in the Bay of Quinte region is greater than the sum of its parts, but it’s up to each of us to foster that community. After all, what is a community but a gathering of individuals — whether in person or through computer screens — celebrating how our unique, creative gifts form a greater whole.
Courtney Klumper is the Digital Marketing Manager at Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board. This is an abbreviated version of an article first published in our Fall/Winter 2020 issue of Umbrella arts magazine, available now.