Local IDEAs

Local Indicator Database for Economic Analysis

Impact of the Arts in Huntsville

Executive Summary

This report argues that arts & culture should be placed at the centre of economic development strategy for The Town Huntsville. While the direct impact of the arts & culture sector is relatively small the importance of the indirect impacts cannot be overstated. In a globally competitive environment local communities must compete based on unique knowledge and skills. Local culture is precisely what defines these sources of strength. Those working in the arts are the champions of local culture.

Arts & culture generated $5.1 million in direct revenue in 2011 and there were 235 arts & culture professionals working in Hunstville in 2006. One of the main find- ings of the report however shows that arts & culture in Huntsville has experienced little-to-no growth in recent years. This is in stark contrast to similar communities in Ontario that have had much higher rates of growth. In many cases this is no accident as they have made a long term commitment to supporting local arts & culture professionals, entrepreneurs, companies, and events. Huntsville is in a good position to pursue a similar strategy as it boasts a strong tourism industry, significant natural amenities, and is within a few hours’ drive of major urban areas.

Additional findings highlight a number of hurdles that Huntsville’s economy is facing. Like many places in Canada there are significant demographic issues on the horizon with an aging population and problems with retaining youth. This is con- nected to concerns over affordability with an increasing gap between incomes and house prices. Artists are particularly vulnerable in this respect as they tend to earn lower than average wages. Huntsville, like many communities in Ontario, is continuing to experience a decline in manufacturing employment and an increase in service sector jobs. As these shifts continue, it is essential that local education and training keep up with the changing demands for skills. There is also an opportunity in this area for training in arts & culture related professions. A key message of this report is that all of the issues confronting Huntsville are connected to one another and must be addressed in a comprehensive manner. Promoting what Huntsville has to offer the world based on its culture and heritage can be a focal point for such a strategy. This need not be an expensive initiative but what it truly requires is buy-in and long-term support of a wide range of local stakeholders. To this point the report offers a set of 10 broad recommendations that can start a conversation about how Huntsville’s arts & culture can be utilized in order to strengthen the overall economy:

  • Place arts & culture at the centre of Huntsville’s economic development strategy
  • Use local culture and heritage to brand and promote Huntsville
  • Cooperate with neighbouring commu- nities and build on the Muskoka brand
  • Support and promote arts & cultural events in Huntsville
  • Create close ties between arts & culture and tourism
  • Maintain strong connections within the art & culture communities in larger urban centres
  • Ensure that Huntsville is an affordable place for artists to live and work
  • Support entrepreneurship in the arts & cultural industry
  • Ensure that there are local career building opportunities in arts & culture for youth
  • Strengthen local education and train- ing opportunities in the arts & culture

You can download the report here:

Spencer, G.M. 2013. Impact of Arts, Culture, and Heritage. Town of Huntsville.

One comment on “Impact of the Arts in Huntsville

  1. Pingback: Migration and increasing inequality | Local IDEAs

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