Waye Mason was animated as he paced the stage during his presentation at the Growing a Creative Economy conference before dozens of representatives from the province’s arts fields. He himself has gone from a career in Nova Scotia’s music industry as an entrepreneur to an educator who was elected to Halifax Regional Municipality’s council in 2012. But while his heart may just like music, art and skateboarding, it’s plain old facts that keep him convinced that these are the elements that this province needs to prosper and flourish.
“It’s the eighth-largest sector in Nova Scotia,” said Mason. “It’s bigger than agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining, oil and gas.”
Despite employing a lot of people, funding to the arts has been stagnating and Mason says a whole new attitude is needed, if Nova Scotia is to move ahead. He said the recent One Nova Scotia report put together by the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy should be seen as a rallying cry and an opportunity for everyone to work together instead of against each other. Successful communities always have strong, vibrant arts scenes and the stranger the better.
“Weird is good,” said Mason.
Even if the financial support isn’t there, it may simply be a matter of using what’s available, such as taking old buildings and turning them into concert halls, and using outdoor parks as art galleries. Maintaining what you already have is also important since maintaining is often less expensive than starting from scratch.
What many people forget is that a strong and vibrant arts scene attracts youth and may persuade them to remain in Nova Scotia rather than move elsewhere.
“Kids will move away if the opportunities are elsewhere,” said Mason. “We want people to move here — not to lose them.”
The Growing a Creative Economy conference wrapped up Tuesday after sessions were held on arts and economic development, the creative industries, and a panel on nurturing culture and creativity to build municipalities. Today will feature the Next Gen and the Creative Economy element of the conference with a youth panel, a session on connecting youth, and another on waking the workplace with artist in residence Brian Riley.