A commitment to culture

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“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 60 years. Learn more about the theatre and find upcoming shows on the theatre website.

Sign up for e-updates to stay up-to-date on the latest arts, culture and heritage news and events. 

Cultural initiatives
Central Okanagan Music Strategy (COMS)

In response to the updated 2020-2025 Cultural Plan, Creative Okanagan and a group of like-minded community members (the leadership ensemble) have developed the Central Okanagan Music Strategy to advance the sustainability of the music industry in our community and beyond.

Purpose

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.

Learn more by visiting the  project website.

Creative spaces consultations

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.

Cultural Plan

Our 2020-2025 Cultural Plan sets priorities for the enhancement of cultural vitality and community spaces, and aligns with the Imagine Kelowna goal of an engaging arts and culture scene.

Learn more about the 2020-2025 Cultural Plan

Funding support

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: 

Poster distribution program

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.

Recovery, Opportunities And Resilience Card Toolkits (ROAR Card Toolkits)

The ROAR Card Toolkit, supported by EQ Development Group is a resource for non-profit organizations to hold conversations about how specific circumstances have had an impact on them. Conversations will follow the prompts on the cards and lead the organization to discover what actions might support future resilience.

The cards are divided into four themes:

  1. Systems and Structure,
  2. Finance and Audits,
  3. People and Processes, and
  4. Communications and Connection.

Within each of the four themes, there are four specific topics that your organization can explore and host a reflective conversation on. The themes and topics were developed based on key areas of concern identified by non-profits during the height of the pandemic. These conversations will support the development of future actions for the organization in order to build strength and resilience.

ROAR Card toolkits are offered free of charge to local non-profit organizations. Register online to get one for your organization.

Building Resilience in Kelowna's Non-profit Sector

In response to various impacts on mental health experienced by the staff and volunteers in the local non-profit sector, we offered four virtual workshops from Discovery College (operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna branch) throughout 2022. Staff and volunteers from local non-profit organizations were invited to participate free of charge in these short workshops that covered a variety of mental health related topics.

 

 

Mental Health and Psychological Safety at Work Training Grants

Throughout the pandemic, Cultural Services continued to have important conversations with local creative sector stakeholders about the challenges their organizations were facing and heard that many colleagues were facing pandemic burnout and other mental health related challenges. In response to these concerns, this program intended to support non-profit creative sector leaders in becoming more aware of opportunities, methods and tactics to assist their colleagues, staff and volunteers who may be facing mental health challenges. 

Three selected participants completed the Charity Village’s Mental Health and Psychological Safety at Work Master Certificate Program. The interactive modules explained the many aspects related to workplace mental health and clinicians provided clear guidance on how to optimally address these delicate and complex issues within a work setting.

 

History of cultural development

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.

Learn more

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.