A commitment to culture
“We're dedicated to fostering a rich and vibrant creative sector in our community by supporting cultural events, programs, facilities, organizations and artists.”
Culture is an important part of what makes Kelowna a great city. Whether it be watching a summer concert at Waterfront Park, volunteering at the Kelowna Community Theatre or strolling through downtown’s Cultural District, Kelowna is brimming with cultural opportunities for all ages and abilities. The quality of our arts, culture and heritage scene enhances how visitors experience our city and makes residents proud to call Kelowna home.
Our role as a municipal government is not to create culture, but to facilitate and promote culture by providing a vision for our community and adopting strong policies – allowing culture to grow organically by supporting our community’s creative champions. It’s through the tireless work of artists, organization leaders, volunteers and audiences that Kelowna can be home to so many high-quality cultural experiences.
We also operate the Kelowna Community Theatre, which has provided a venue for performances for more than 50 years. Learn more about the theatre and find upcoming shows on the theatre website.
In response to the updated 2020-2025 Cultural Plan, Creative Okanagan and a group of like-minded community members (the leadership ensemble) are developing the Central Okanagan Music Strategy to advance the sustainability of the music industry in our community and beyond.
The purpose of the Music Strategy is to advance the sustainability of the music industry in the Central Okanagan through:
- Connecting people with similar interests, towards collective action;
- Developing community support toward music;
- Increasing support to live music;
- Creating an understanding of the current music landscape; and
- Setting priorities for the future development of music in the Central Okanagan.
Stay updated on the project by visiting the project website.
The arts and culture community has a diverse range of needs when it comes to physical space. Though there is no one-size-fits-all solution, it’s understood that cultural vitality depends on the availability of spaces for cultural consumption and for production.
In 2016, we received feedback on creative spaces from more than 200 local artists and eight focus groups through an online survey. Artist shared information about the spaces they work in and challenges they are encountering in accessing the creative spaces they need, and they suggested ideas for change. We used this information to create the 2017 Creative Spaces Report.
We encourage artists to use SpaceFinder BC, a state-of-the-art online tool that provides solutions by connecting organizations with space to rent with the people who need space.
We have created funding mechanisms to support cultural development in Kelowna, from facility operations and professional organizations to our community grassroots organizations.
Our cultural grants support the creative sector in Kelowna and continue to expand our residents' accessibility to arts, culture and heritage.
Several facilities in the Cultural District are City-owned and operated by a local non-profit organization. Through lease and operating agreements, we're able to support these non-profit organizations in operating their venues and offering their services to the community.
We currently own three cultural facilities that are operated by non-profit organizations:
Please note this project is on hold until facilities reopen
Do you have an upcoming event and want to get the word out to the community? In our efforts to promote arts, culture and heritage in Kelowna, Cultural Services will distribute and display event posters for cultural events on bulletin boards at various facilities around the city. Check out the poster distribution guidelines for eligibility and more information.
Welcome to our new section, A Creative Youth Perspective! If you are registered for the Arts & Culture E-updates, each month you will read a piece by a creative youth in Kelowna to share their talent, words and news about youth in our arts and culture community.
Check out our current and previous youth creatives below!
Introducing our newest Creative Youth John Forbes. John will be contributing a column to the eUpdate for the next six months from the lense of youth in the arts.
John Forbes is a young professional photographer from Peachland,B.C. who now resides in Kelowna. John’s love of photography started as early as high school when he started hiking. He wanted to capture the views from each hike to show his friends and family and to remember the beauty. As he developed his skills, he started seeing photography as a form of art. It was from there he committed to further study digital media. John completed his Diploma in Digital Media in 2021, focusing on photography.
John now works as a freelance photographer shooting portraits, products, and dining/food. His passion lies in capturing the best that nature, people and commerce offers. Aside from landscapes, he enjoys photographing people by capturing a moment that can speak an entire story about them or simply an instance in their life. His latest project is photographing the talent of local band, “Broke Down Trucks”.
Learn more about John and his practice at:johnforbesphotography.com
Amelia Brooker is a young writer from Kelowna BC pursuing her passion for literature and artistic creativity. She is a student at the University of British Columbia, studying English Literature and Business Management. With a love for telling stories, Amelia has experience in multiple areas of work and a special interest in creative writing and theatre. In the past, she has written for the All Things Broadway blog, and has done dramaturgy work for MissionMainstage Theatre Company.
She is currently the senior editor for Motive, Word & Pen, a youth non-profit writing collective. She has also produced two short plays, at both the Goodwill Shakespeare Festival in 2019 and for the UBC Players’ Club in 2020. She draws her literary inspiration from her favourite books and plays, including Little Women, Macbeth, and Mother of the Maid. Amelia is excited to continue telling stories of youth in Kelowna who share her same passion for the arts.
Having completed her role as the Creative Youth, Amelia shares her testimony to the success of the program:
"Having grown up in Kelowna for the last ten years, I have developed and fostered a love for the arts through my experiences within the community. Being able to share that love back into the community as well as develop my professional skills has been a wonderful opportunity. As a young person trying to break into the professional world, chances to highlight youth experiences are few and far between. The opportunity to share my experience and uplift the stories of other local youth has been an amazing one.
I am very lucky to have had Cultural Services put their faith in me. Especially during the pandemic, artists of all ages have felt the effects of their artistic voices being suppressed. It really does mean a lot to have their support, and to know that my role in the community is valued. By showing the youth of Kelowna that their voices matter and their work is important, it uplifts us all and inspires us to continue our art."
Read Amelia's articles and learn more about her practice on her website.
Cultural development began in the early 1970’s, when a committee formed to study the possibilities of developing a “Cultural Arts Centre” in Kelowna. In 1989, Kelowna established the Mayor’s Task Force to create our first cultural policy. Our cultural policy (updated most recently in 2010) gives form, support and provides direction for the cultural development in the city.
Over the past 20 years, significant progress has been made to integrate arts and culture into overall community planning and the delivery of services to residents and visitors. Early work led to the establishment of a number of cultural facilities, the Cultural District, a granting process, and the establishment of a Cultural Services branch in 2001.
As the fourth pillar of sustainability, we take culture seriously and strive to weave it into all aspects of civic planning and life in Kelowna. To achieve this, Kelowna's first Cultural Plan (2012-2017) was launched in 2012 to encourage and integrate local culture within all neighbourhoods of Kelowna. Since then, significant progress has been made in implementing 2012-2017 Cultural Plan goals and strategies. Many organizations continue to thrive, and new organizations and venues have emerged. Major initiatives such as the Bernard Avenue revitalization, the Civic Block Plan, the relocation of the RCMP, completion of new parkades and the opening of the Okanagan Centre for Innovation have had an impact on the landscape of the Cultural District.
Affordability of spaces for living, working and creating is an issue for many artists. In addition, key buildings in our inventory of cultural infrastructure such as the Kelowna Community Theatre and the Okanagan Heritage Museum continue to age and have mounting structural deficits as new buildings go up around them.
Our updated Cultural Plan is intended to respond to changes and challenges and set a direction for the years 2020-2025.