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 COMS team is currently seeking input from a wide range of residents to share their values and what the music scene means to them. Your opinions and feedback are important to sharing the direction and priorities for the future and to build a vibrant music community.
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.
These community workshops were scheduled for March 13 (consultant session) and March 14 (community session), but have been postponed until a later date due to COVID-19. Our community partners are thrilled with the interest in this program and are excited to bring the opportunity back when the time is right for our community. Those who were planning to attend will be contacted once a date has been determined.
Project partners: Central Okanagan Foundation, Valley First, Vantage Point.
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.