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Since 2019 we’ve been bringing together a wide variety of voices and perspectives in the Vancouver Island/Rural Islands region arts ecosystem to conduct ground-breaking research, pilot regional solutions and soften siloes between the arts, tourism and business sectors. Here are examples of some of our bigger projects.


Creative Tourism Exploration (January to April 2024) 

We have partnered with 4VI (formerly Tourism Vancouver Island) and a diversity of tourism providers across our region to identify and explore cross-sectoral partnership opportunities between the creative and tourism sectors. Key project goals include a shared, localized definition of creative tourism; detailed insights on how the creative sector can enhance the visitor economy; and ideation on potential collaborative projects. This project prioritizes economic inclusion for under-represented creative communities including Indigenous, LGBTQ+ and rural/remote. We will be presenting the outcomes of this project at this spring’s Livable Cities, Collaborative Communities conference:, organized by Thompson River University. This project is made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts Seed Fund.

Data Empowerment Study (March 2023 to March 2026)

We are currently co-leading an innovating data discovery project with Simon Fraser University. We are working with Vancouver Island artists to discover and collect meaningful data relevant to themselves and their communities. The goal of this project is to work with people to to help them uncover and collect data relevant to themselves and their communities. Specifically we are focused on data that will inform policy to support and grow the creative economy in the region of Vancouver Island. We are interested, not only in the collection of data, but how data can be collected and presented through a process that empowers the individuals and communities that data represents. We are prioritizing the voices of under-represented artists including Indigenous, LGBTQ+ and rural/remote. This project is made possible by a $500,000 grant from the Government of Canada New Frontiers in Research Fund.

Data Makers Residency (February to April 2024)

We're piloting an 8-week residency program designed to empower artists to harness data for creative expression and to drive economic change in the local creative sector. This residency takes a unique approach to data-driven decision making by fostering creativity and self-determination in relation to data. We have invited a cohort of six artists from across Vancouver Island to work with us to learn and develop new content collaboratively. This Residency combines structured discussions and exercises and independent studio work, and includes the sharing of works created in response to the program. This Residency is a key component of phase one of the Data Empowerment Study discussed above.

Art Coach Pilot (March 2022 to January 2024)

The ArtCoach project tested a variety of barrier-free digital supports and services for rural/remote creative communities, and underserved artists (Indigenous, LGBTQ+). This initiative kicked-off in 2022 with in-person workshops in Port McNeill (with the North Vancouver Island Arts Society), in Port Alberni (with the Alberni Valley Arts Council), and in Victoria (with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre). We also launched some virtual programming to explore how to extend this coaching model to an online environment: notably a series of podcast interviews featuring remote/underrepresented artists in the super-region. In 2023 we shifted gears to see if we could do more than just provide ongoing supports in some of our rural/remote communities. We launched the Central Island Digital Creation Hub staffed by a digital coach, and are now working to set up similar hubs in Tofino, Port McNeill and in Victoria in partnership with the new Indigenous arts and culture hub: The Aunty Collective. This project was made possible by a $250,000 Digital Literacy grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, and a $30,000 BC Arts Council Impact grant.

Regional Coordinator Pilot (April 2022 to November 2023)

The purpose of this project was to continue the work of the Digital Innovation Group (aka DIG, predecessor of Creative Coast) with the support of a regional coordinator. This was the first exploration of regional coordination in British Columbia’s arts sector. DIG was a highly successful initiative (see more below), but it relied on a massive and unsustainable level of volunteer time. A key takeaway from the DIG project was the realization that innovation is virtually impossible to do off the side of one’s desk. The Regional Coordinator Pilot allowed us to organize hundreds of meetings, conversations and engagements with diverse stakeholders in the arts, tourism and economic development sectors. Thanks to these activities, we now know the Vancouver Island/Rural Islands area has the capacity and potential to capitalize on the next wave of an Inclusive Creative Economy. More importantly we know the steps to get there: include the excluded by filling fundamental gaps in supports and services to underrepresented populations including IBPOC, LGBTQ+, rural communities, youth and new Canadians. Further, we know our on-the-ground work to pilot inclusive approaches to sector development (eg. our ArtCoach project) is positioning us as leaders in Canada in creative economic development. This project was made possible by a $50,000 Sector Innovation grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Digital Innovation Group (2020 to 2022)

In early 2020, six Vancouver Island/Rural Islands arts councils started coming together to explore how digital tools might facilitate new ways of working together. There could not have been a better time to experiment with new ways of connectivity: the project’s timeframe coincided with the major periods of closure during the Covid19 pandemic. The six councils met weekly for two years, occasionally organizing virtual gatherings that connected our region’s 30+ arts councils - a first! Being able to talk to arts councils in all corners of the region accelerated our ability to understand challenges, needs and opportunities. DIG's biggest accomplishment was to initiate and oversee the first ever All Islands Arts Impact Study in mid 2021. ​In the fall of 2021, we presented our impact study's findings to the Vancouver Island Economic Summit. This was the first time the arts sector had ever presented to this annual summit (we presented again in 2023!) This project was made possible by a $215,000 Digital Literacy grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, and a $30,000 BC Arts Council Impact grant.

Powerhouse Explorations (2019)

The spark that launched this entire Creative Coast adventure was a series of virtual meetings (before anyone had heard of Zoom!) held in the spring/early of summer of 2019. The goal of these engagements was to ask: What if we’re an arts and culture powerhouse? If we are, what do we want to do about it? These questions were intended to explore the intersectionality of the Vancouver Island/Rural Island region’s unique characteristics: a geographically boundaried ecosystem teeming with arts and culture and heritage, with enviable and under-leveraged strengths in tourism, cultural tourism and creative economic development. We were thrilled that hundreds turned out to these meetings, from all corners of the region, representing Indigenous and non-Indigenous arts, tourism and economic development organizations. Following on the success of these conversations, we initiated the DIG project discussed above. This project was made possible by a $50,000 Digital Literacy grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.


Creative Coast offers a comprehensive suite of services tailored to Arts & Culture Organizations, Artists, Municipalities/Government, and Tourism sectors, providing strategic guidance, creative solutions, and tailored support to help each client thrive in their respective fields.

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