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Cultural Mapping Project

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“Ideally, all disciplines will have true representation on the map, but the directory can only reflect what is entered into the database.” – cultural inventory co-ordinator Mary Calarco

Project a one-stop shop for city’s cultural assets

By Jessica Lovell
Guelph Tribune

Almost a year after work on the project first began, the city is getting ready to launch the website for its Cultural Mapping Project, but it is still looking for more cultural assets to pinpoint on the map.

“Ideally, all disciplines will have true representation on the map, but the directory can only reflect what is entered into the database,” said cultural inventory co-ordinator Mary Calarco.

The project, which started in April 2012, aims to create a searchable database and map showing as many of Guelph’s cultural assets as possible. These include everything from public art to performance and exhibition venues, from individual artists to arts and culture-based businesses or charities.

“Accurate figures about the creative sector aren’t available through Stats Canada, and in order to see the strength of Guelph’s creative class, individuals and business owners need to enter their profile,” said Calarco in an email.

The information for the database is being collected mainly from the individuals and organizations themselves, through an online sign-up process at The process takes about 10 minutes, said Calarco. As of Wednesday, there were 499 assets, she said. The city had been hoping to break the 500 mark by the new year.

“I want the entire community to be both astounded and honoured with the concentration of creativity that surrounds us,” Calarco said.

Among those 499 assets are 277 individuals, 116 organizations – including groups, businesses, non-profits and charities – 25 events, 43 venues, and 38 collections – mainly public art, she said.

Among the individuals, the majority, at 147, are from the visual arts field, although there is overlap between the categories. Seventy-one fall under craft, 62 under music, 48 under literary arts, 35 under design, 30 under theatre, 29 under heritage, 27 under media arts and 11 under dance.

The organizations are more evenly spread out among these same nine categories, with the greatest number being the 37 under music, closely followed by 36 under visual arts. So who is still missing?

“I know there are quite a few architects, web designers, dancers, musicians, arts educators/administrators, DJs, actors, media technicians, journalists, filmmakers and alterative live music venues that have yet to be added to the directory,” said Calarco. In an effort to include them, she is contacting people one-by-one to encourage them to sign up, she said.

“My experience is as soon as someone hears about the Cultural Mapping Project, they understand its value and readily jump on board,” she said.

The idea behind the project is that it will become a resource both for city hall and for the community. It will provide the economic development and tourism departments with “quantifiable statistics regarding the strength of Guelph’s creative sector,” said Calarco.

For the creative community, “this is a rare opportunity for local artists, culture workers and creative enterprises to rally together and declare the importance of arts, culture and heritage in Guelph,” she said.

Giant Goat is currently working on building the website, which has its launch planned for mid-March, she said.

While profiles can still be entered anytime, even after the launch, getting the bulk of the info sooner will give the web developers time to test the site, Calarco said. Content creators will also have a chance to edit and review their profiles and add images.

“This is a rare opportunity for Guelph’s creative sector to rally together, and my hope is for the floodgates to burst open just before the site launches,” said Calarco. “We’re hovering just below 500 now, but I think we can top the 600 mark if people share this information with their contacts. Just think of what a fantastic community resource this site will be once launched.”

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