The term “creative class” can be misleading. It connotes a line of separation between those of the class and those who are not, a line between people who create and produce and people who simply consume. In reality, there is no such line. The great majority of people create and produce things of value, material and cultural, though they do so in varying ways and with varying degrees of commitment and success, receiving different rewards for their contributions.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the arts world of this city and province. There is a huge and potent force alive and well in our community, – our amateur artists, – those who love to do what they do and who generously contribute their time and energy purely for the sheer love of the art itself, – men, women and children who play, live and work together in their pursuit of and participation in art forms they love. Though not “professional” in the remunerative sense of the term, they are often highly professional in what they do. However, because they’re not paid, because they do not clamour for major funding from various levels of government, because they do not inhabit the heights of major arts organizations, they are frequently ignored or taken for granted.
There is a clear danger that our dialogues over strategy will be limited largely to the organizational “peaks” of government, culture and business. This would be a tragic waste of resources. Our huge communities of amateur artists, – singers, dancers, painters, photographers, actors, all, – can and should be major players in shaping the future of our creative culture. This is not an argument for giving these artists more money, but rather for recognizing them, cherishing them, and providing them “a place at the table.” This potent force should be intimately involved in the process of strategic and tactical planning for the arts
In a recent interview regarding his research on the “creative class,” Richard Florida whole-heartedly agreed with the proposition that culture can only flourish from the bottom up. “Creativity is organic. You can’t plan for it. You can only allow it room and freedom to grow, something that many leaders fail to do. I’m not asking people to force creativity on their companies, cities, and communities; I’m just asking them to allow it to flourish. There’s a big difference.”
Wisely approached and allowed to flourish, the amateur arts community can play a key role in developing a high level of creativity in the culture of this city and province.
Diane Loomer, one of Canada’s best-known musicians, has achieved international recognition as a choral conductor, teacher, and musician. An honors graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of British Columbia’s School of Music, she is founder and conductor of the prize-winning men’s choir, Chor Leoni, co-founder and co-director of the outstanding Elektra Women’s Choir, and taught on the music faculty at the University of British Columbia. Both choirs have repeatedly won first prizes in national competitions. Her choral compositions have been published, performed, and recorded internationally, and she frequently appears on CBC national radio as a commentator on and champion of the classical arts in Canada. With the help of her husband, Diane has established Cypress Choral Music as a thriving source of Canadian choral music and an encouragement to Canadian choral composers.
Diane has given lectures on her work at local, national and international meetings of choral professionals. She travels around the world conducting, leading workshops, and spreading good choral cheer. Her numerous honors and awards include being the first woman to conduct the National Youth Choir of Canada. She was given the Healey Willan Prize for outstanding service to Canadian Music, named as Vancouver’s Woman of Distinction of Arts and Culture by the YWCA, and received a Distinguished Alumni Award honoring her achievements and leadership in choral music.
She is an Order of Canada recipient, was awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal in honour of the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the Throne. Most and was recently appointed to the University Women’s Scholar Lecture Series by the University of Victoria.