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Barrie’s Plan For Culture

In 2005, Barrie City Council began to recognize the need to measure the arts activity in the local community. There were frequent requests for funding from community arts organizations. Council felt there was a need for a better understanding of the width and breadth of arts and culture in Barrie and the potential for developing ways to better nurture and support it. The Mayor of the day, Rob Hamilton, inspired by his attendance at a Cultural Forum, realized that for many communities culture was an economic driver, one that required investment from municipal government. City Council tasked The Department of Leisure, Transit and Facilities with mapping the cultural community through collecting data and planning. The aim was to produce a plan that would be unique to Barrie and its personal history. A team of talented individuals formed a task force lead by local architect, Mr. Ted Handy of Ted Handy and Associates. Also on the team were William Moore, Arts Consultant, Brian Arnott of Novita Interpares, Greig Stewart of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and Randy Watson, Onalee Groves and Murray Minshall all from the Leisure, Transit and Facilities division.

In the process of creating the plan, the committee gathered 7800 pieces of financial, statistical, and anecdotal information from 24 arts organizations, arts festivals and events creating 580 individual activities. It was a first time snap shot of the richness of the arts in Barrie. Through in-depth interviews, analysis of the information gathered, and the responses of City staff, an understanding of the artistic and economic impact of the arts community and its hope for the future was documented.

At General Committee on February 27, 2006, Building a Creative Future - A Plan for Culture was presented and adopted. This exciting plan outlines a 10 year direction for Culture in our community and recognizes the leadership role that the arts can play in the future of Barrie.


Building a Creative Future, the Barrie Arts & Culture Plan will evaluate the current condition of arts organizations, facilities and facility opportunities in Barrie and recommend a ten year direction.


With rapid population growth and increasing diversity, the time is right for Barrie to make an investment in arts and culture. Barrie must look to its downtown as a destination opportunity. The arts not only attract tourist dollars, they support excellence and creativity in other sectors as well and generally improves our quality of life.

Key Initiatives

The primary focus is to recognize the importance of the arts, and to make arts and culture a prominent component of Barrie's economic and social development strategies.

Building a Creative Future includes:

  • Recommendaion for an arts policy
  • A ten year direction
  • A ten year facilities direction for downtown rejuvenation, potential theatre district, outdoor performance centre
  • Recommendation for a granting structure (or agency) to support arts organizations and direct priorities for granting supporting policy
  • A business case for arts and culture investment

Guiding Principles and Guidelines:

  • that arts and culture are recognized as an important component of a vibrant city
  • that arts and culture can play a leadership role in the future of Barrie
  • that existing arts and culture accomplishments are recognized
  • that creative people, organizations and approaches are welcome in Barrie
  • that stakeholders cooperate to realize the full potential of the arts in Barrie
  • that accountability is maintained when making arts-related investments
  • that municipal investments in arts and culture are leveraged through other levels of government
  • that investments in arts and culture are focused on long term growth and sustainability
  • that arts and culture be supported as a destination initiative
  • that the downtown be a key arts and culture development area

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