“A movement is definitely growing in support of the creative economy in Muskoka”, says Mary Robertson Lacroix, Chair of Creative Muskoka. She refers to a University of Toronto Study of Muskoka’s Creative Economy commissioned by Creative Muskoka with support from the District of Muskoka and Muskoka Futures that is scheduled for release later this spring. “This study will identify the current status of the local economy and provide recommendations for us to work as a region to further develop the creative economy. Research clearly points to the fact that small and dispersed communities must be intentional in building strategies for growth.”
The need for new thinking and new economy strategies is becoming more and more evident. The Bracebridge Examiner recently reported on a new District study indicating the number relying on Ontario Works is reaching historic highs. Young people are hit particularly hard by the lack of employment opportunities. “We simply have to realize that the economy has changed and we must work together to transform our economy for a prosperous future” says Robertson Lacroix.
Four new supporters have joined the ranks of Creative Muskoka bringing the number to 24 community organizations, businesses and municipalities who have formally expressed their endorsement of the group. Creative Muskoka is unique as it operates as a flexible platform for collaboration among champions of arts and culture, environment and creative economy in Muskoka.
The recently announced Creative Muskoka leadership team for the upcoming year reflects a commitment to working district-wide: Kareen Burns, Huntsville Arts Festival and Reel Alternatives; Gayle Dempsey, Director of Development for the Muskoka Lakes Music Festival; Jennifer Schnier, Economic Development Officer for Township of Georgian Bay; Saundra Turnbull, Chair, Arts Council of Muskoka and Mary Robertson Lacroix representing Muskoka Futures acts as Chair of Creative Muskoka. Larry Curley of the Ministry of Culture acts as an advisor providing an important link to provincial initiatives.
Creative Muskoka has been invited to share Muskoka’s story at an upcoming creative rural economy conference hosted by the Monieson Centre, School of Business at Queen's University. The relationships Muskoka is building with Queen's University and the University of Toronto is helping to put Muskoka in the forefront and provides important avenues for the sharing of ideas and expertise .