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REF NO.: 30

SUBJECT: Newfoundland and Labrador culture and heritage: more than just tourism

DATE: Sept. 25

Culture and heritage are fundamental in promoting regional development and public policy across Newfoundland and Labrador, says an associate professor of communications studies and the director of the Graduate Program in Humanities and interdisciplinary PhD programs at Memorial University. Furthermore, she suggests that supporting collaboration and partnerships in the culture and heritage sector will net stronger communities and economies. 

In her report prepared for the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development, Dr. Jennifer Dyer examines a decade’s worth of work of research, public forums and workshops and explores the social and cultural development of the province. She also provides a clearer picture of the important role culture plays economically and socially for Newfoundland and Labrador and outlines future areas for research on the matter.

According to Dr. Dyer, social and cultural development can have an immediate economic impact on things like tourism; however, these more immediate concerns too often overshadow the full appreciation and examination of the more intrinsic qualities of the arts. Namely, Dr. Dyer says that the arts are integral in helping us learn about the world and ourselves by assisting us to innovate, explore and live together better.

“Culture, heritage and society are important for specific reasons in and of themselves. They have intrinsic value in life. It is through culture that we develop a society that encourages a healthy push for diversity and innovation in the local community, from entrepreneurship to community-building,” she said. “What makes us unique and attractive as a culture is also what connects us to different parts of Canada and the world. Our culture, heritage and society promote groups and individuals to think critically, creatively and independently and to show concern for one’s place.”

Dr. Dyer says organizations like the Harris Centre have an increasingly important role to play in supporting the arts through the promotion of collaboration and partnerships. The centre has taken on the role of “culture and arts patron” and can play a critical role in furthering culture and heritage in regional development and public policy. However, she says this sort of patronage still needs to be better understood in order to be more effective and have more long-term implications.

“The Harris Centre work shows contemporary arts patronage is about partnership. It is about collaboration in the pursuit of shared goals, social critique, and a long-term strategy for cultural and social development. With a developed plan for promoting the collaboration of researchers and community stakeholders in sharing knowledge, skills, connections and talent, Harris Centre programming and activities can have a broader and more sustainable impact for the long term.”

The report is the second of five thematic reports commissioned by the Harris Centre, in recognition of its 10th anniversary. The series of reports assess what significant issues the province has faced during the past decade and what issues can be anticipated in the next. These reports will form the basis of discussion at NL Forum 2014, a two-day conference hosted by the Harris Centre on Nov. 4-5. 

The remaining reports will focus on governance and public policy, regional and rural development, and environment and natural resources. They will be released in the coming weeks leading up to NL Forum 2014.

To read Dr. Dyer’s report, to find out more information on NL Forum 2014 and to register for the conference, please visit mun.ca/harriscentre/nlforum.

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For more information, please contact Diane Keough, communications co-ordinator, Harris Centre, at (709) 864.3739, diane.keough@mun.ca .

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