Art and Soul in the Exchange District of Winnipeg, MB: Planning for Arts, Culture, and Creativity

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Bell, Paul
Urban Planning , Art , Culture , Creativity , Winnipeg , Community Development , Urban Creativity , Creative Industries
This research thesis follows up on research conducted by Nathan Medeiros in 2005 that studied planning for creativity in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The thesis is guided by two research questions “What policies and planning approaches have supported the development of creative industries in Winnipeg’s Exchange District?” and, “In particular, what policies and planning approaches support the creative entrepreneurs and workers that live and work there? These research questions are translated into two objectives: (1) compare changes in the Exchange District since 2005, and (2) make policy recommendations for the City of Winnipeg especially on how to attract and retain creative entrepreneurs and workers that live and work in the Exchange District. The case study includes a document analysis of planning and policy documents for Winnipeg, MB., interviews with thirteen (13) participants, and participant observations. Medeiros conducted a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis of Charles Landry’s “Cycle of Urban Creativity” in relation to the Exchange District. A similar SWOT has been conducted in order to compare findings from 2005 to 2017. Three elements have been identified as contributing to the development of creative industries in the Exchange District: (1) a strong public realm; (2) internal/external networking for arts, culture, and creative industries; and, (3) support and advocacy organizations for arts, culture, and creativity. Three additional elements have been identified as equally as important, although are not present in the Exchange District: (1) connectivity to surrounding areas; (2) multilateral civic collaboration and leadership; and, (3) mixed-income and mixed-type housing and workspaces. Five recommendations for the City of Winnipeg: (1) develop and implement an affordable housing strategy for Winnipeg’s downtown; (2) incentivize heritage building redevelopment, and at the same time de-incentivize empty buildings and empty lots; (3) recognize the uniqueness of the Exchange District in official planning documents; (4) support opportunities for cross industry collaboration as well as outreach to other creative centres; and, (5) create a ‘creative spaces strategy’ for the Exchange District.
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