The vibrancy of Arts, Culture and Heritage is increasingly seen as an essential component in Niagara’s sustainability and prosperity. In recent years, we have begun to recognize and describe this Sector’s complexity. At this time in our community, we are experiencing the emergence of local municipal and regional culture plans. This is accompanied by a common desire to consider social, environmental and economic impacts in cultural planning.

Arts, Culture and Heritage as a whole is poised on a tipping point for being recognized as an integral leader in the building of Niagara’s Creative Economy. Players within this Sector are beginning to discuss the possibility of sharing ideas, knowledge, reliable sector-wide data, and innovations. The anticipated benefit is better-informed decision-making that enables people and organizations working in the overall area of Arts, Culture and Heritage to mutually describe and articulate the collective scale and socio-economic influence of their work in our Niagara.

Things We Are Doing Well

  • A Niagara Culture Plan assessment of the economic impact of the Niagara Culture sector identified a contribution of the equivalent of 13,088 full-time jobs; $396.3 million in labour income; and $595.2 million to the regional economy.
  • launched in 2012 as Niagara’s online resource for arts, heritage, festivals and events. It helps people search for events via calendars, event types, interactive map, or search keywords. A blog offers cultural insights from across Niagara. This website was developed by a partnership between Carousel Players; the Centre for the Arts at Brock University; and the City of St. Catharines. These groups also developed the Niagara Arts Inspire Niagara Schools project, providing opportunities for elementary and secondary students to participate in and access arts activities in Niagara.
  • IlluminAqua is a concert series that uniquely blends fire, music and water set on the Old Welland Canal, drawing people from Ontario, Western New York and beyond. It is part of the Waterway’s Arts and Culture Series and takes place at the Merritt Park Amphitheatre in Welland.
  • Heritage sites in Niagara that played a role in the War of 1812, and several museums with related collections and website information partnered with the Niagara 1812 Legacy Council to commemorate the 1812 Bicentennial. This aligned with Niagara Region being declared a Cultural Capital of Canada for 2012, and 22 related projects in a range of expressions including art, photography, heritage, dance, choral, digital, multi-media, theater, after-school arts and local cultural festivals.

Emerging Activities

  • The St. Catharines Performing Arts Centre and the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts will be a specialized, purpose-built and professionally managed facility that presents, promotes and develops the arts in Niagara. This development will add an important new cultural attraction to the region, serving artists, students and arts patrons across the peninsula.
  • The Niagara Investment in Culture (NIC) program is offering project-based funding to both community cultural organizations and local municipalities.
  • The emergence of municipal cultural plans and investment strategies indicates growing recognition of the role this Sector plays in strengthening our community’s economic prosperity.
  • In late 2013, Niagara Region Council approved an application to have lands through which the first 3 Welland Canals ran designated historic, with a vision of creating a Canadian heritage tourism draw and spurring redevelopment of original canal communities.
  • South Niagara Artists are a diverse group of painters, potters and printmakers located in the southern part of the Niagara region. In August, 2012, they staged their first annual tour, in Wainfleet and Port Colborne. In 2014, the group has doubled in size, includes artists in Sherkston, Crystal Beach and Ridgeway, and is staging their first annual Fall Studio Tour in early November.

Suggested Action Steps

  • Continue to support and encourage the arts as an essential part of the education process for learners of all ages in Niagara.
  • Broaden and deepen our collective understanding of the socio-economic contribution of the overall Arts, Culture and Heritage Sector in Niagara, and continue to strengthen opportunities for players within this Sector to collectively describe, articulate and reflect the impact of their work and presence on the vibrancy of Niagara.
  • Preserve, maintain and promote access to and interpretation of the remnants of the first three versions of the Welland Canal. Create opportunities to tell our collective stories of the Welland Canal in our community.
  • Increase the flow of mutually beneficial information across the Niagara-wide Arts, Culture and Heritage Sector and beyond, to enable: on-going, timely and easy access to data and reports to inform collective branding; complementary product development and cross-promotion that achieves impact; and intentional gathering and sharing of knowledge and data to support integrated planning.


Involvement in and time spent on arts, culture and heritage activities in Niagara

  • Library Use
  • Arts, Culture and Heritage Activities and Groups in Niagara

Mapping of arts, culture and heritage assets in Niagara

Contribution of the cultural sector to the economy in Niagara

  • Contribution of Cultural Tourism to the Economy
  • Consideration of Arts, Culture and Heritage in Economic Strategies and Local Development Plans
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