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Yarmouth event looks at importance of culture in tourism; new report focuses on culture’s social benefits

A panel discussion during the Culture Talks event in Yarmouth on June 6 included (from left), Trevor Murphy, chair of the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, who moderated the discussion; Heather Yule, manager, experience development, Tourism Nova Scotia; David Sollows, co-chair, Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve Board; Robert Bernard, CEO, Diversity Management Group; Andrew Hattie, representing the Rock the Dock music and arts festival.
A panel discussion during the Culture Talks event in Yarmouth on June 6 included (from left), Trevor Murphy, chair of the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, who moderated the discussion; Heather Yule, manager, experience development, Tourism Nova Scotia; David Sollows, co-chair, Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve Board; Robert Bernard, CEO, Diversity Management Group; Andrew Hattie, representing the Rock the Dock music and arts festival. - Eric Bourque

On the day it was in Yarmouth to hold a mini-conference called Culture Talks – a chance to explore the role of culture, specifically with regard to tourism – the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council released a new paper that looks at the social benefits of culture.

“Lately there has been much emphasis on the economic importance of culture,” the report says. “But those of us who work in the sector know this isn’t the full picture.”

There are many intangible things about culture, notably its social benefits, that are harder to measure, the report says.

“We know that culture shapes identity, that it preserves social bonds, that it promotes equality and challenges discrimination,” the paper says. “It also creates places that are more interesting to live in and visit. Cultural diversity, special events, festivals, galleries, and performing arts all help to attract immigrants and tourists, and create vibrancy for the people who live here.”

The new report builds on an earlier one from the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, whose 2014 report – Culture: Nova Scotia’s Future – focused on the economic importance of culture and creativity, said Trevor Murphy, the council’s chair.

“As Nova Scotians seek new and inclusive ways to create prosperity, advance cultural diversity, and ensure sustainable communities for generations to come, culture is our great strength, our collective core business, and our most promising renewable resource,” he wrote in new report’s introduction.

The report cites a number of findings from a 2018 survey from Nova Scotia’s Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. Among them:

--81 per cent of respondents agreed culture helps enrich quality of life;

--78 per cent agreed culture helps create community identity;

--74 per cent agreed culture helps connect people from different communities and backgrounds.

Meanwhile, as far as the relationship between culture and tourism, Heather Yule, one of the participants in the June 6 Culture Talks event in Yarmouth, spoke of the tight interconnectedness of the two.

“Culture cannot be separated from tourism,” said Yule, manager of experience development with Tourism Nova Scotia.

Culture is not just about heritage, she said. In a sense, culture touches nearly everything about us, from what we eat and drink to the stories we tell, she said.

“How we package those different pieces or provide access to our experts, whether they’re elders or artisans or musicians or chefs or farmers, and how we connect our visitors with these people and these special places can definitely help increase the profile of Nova Scotia and differentiate us in that highly competitive global marketplace,” she said.

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