Artist Sheila Norgate gets behind important arts impact study

Ladysmith Arts Council

Press release

Wednesday, June 23 2021

Artist Sheila Norgate is applying her trademark flair to a cause close to her heart. She’s championing a survey about the impact of the arts on our social and economic well-being.

Norgate said, “Art is the gateway drug to everything that matters to me. So it makes sense I’ve come out swinging in support of this Arts Impact Study.”

The study, launched earlier this month by Digital Innovation Group ( - a group of community arts councils, aims to quantify the economic, social, cultural, and health impacts of arts across the Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands super-region.

Kathy Holmes, President of the Arts Council of Ladysmith & District said, “This is the first time we’ve set out to measure the positive benefits of the arts sector to everyone living in our coastal super-region. 

“We have good reason to believe we have more artists and creatives per capita than anywhere else in Canada. The survey data will help us prove we’re an arts powerhouse.”

The group is reaching out to everyone touched by the arts, including retail businesses, restaurants, realtors, tourism service providers, local government and, of course, artists.”

Response to the survey has been strong in the southern part of the super-region (Victoria and Saltspring Island in particular), so the group is now initiating a big push to gather responses from the western and northern areas.

Sounder Editor’s note: As of press time, Gabriola had overtaken Salt Spring in the number of responses sent in to the survey.

Kera McHugh, Community Engagement Director, Comox Valley Arts Council – another member of the Digital Innovation Group.

“We want to understand how many creatives are out there, and all the ways they are contributing to life on the Islands, so we’re pushing hard in the western and northern regions to reach as many artists and arts-engaged citizens, organizations and businesses as possible.”

The survey team is aiming for a 0.5% response rate (5,000 people of our super-region’s 1 million) and encourages everyone who interacts directly or indirectly with arts to take the survey and share with family and friends.

Holmes said, “This study is groundbreaking, and will change for the better how we craft economic and tourism development strategies. “We know from case studies that communities and economies are more resilient when arts and culture is integrated into these fundamental planning processes.”

A similar impact assessment conducted a few years ago in the Northern United Kingdom region found the economic benefits of the arts sector to be close to $8 billion (3 times the impact of the football sector). Findings from this study have influenced infrastructure and destination development spending, with significant and ongoing positive ripple effects on local economies.

Norgate said, “I’m issuing a challenge to well-known artists from the more rural and remote parts of our Islands to join me in this ad campaign. 

“Let’s use our renown to help put our arts and culture super-region on the map.”

The survey runs until late June. It is being conducted by international consulting firm Nordicity, and funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Take the survey at