Arts in the City Downtown Revitalization Strategies for Mid-Sized Cities
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Bringing life back into the centre of smaller cities is possible through community-led arts and culture events. This study of community and artist-led events in Barrie, Kitchener and Hamilton in Ontario suggests that these types of place-making events should be supported by smaller cities as important catalysts to downtown revitalization. In recent decades, cities of all sizes have attempted to revitalize the downtown via a myriad of approaches and strategies. Large cities are typically more successful in downtown revitalization in comparison to smaller urban centres. This research examines downtown revitalization strategies and determines that place-making approaches that emphasize arts and culture are best suited for smaller city centres. The City of Barrie served as the primary case study for this research. A proposal for the City of Barrie was drafted to assist in downtown revitalization efforts (see Appendix C). In order to understand the options available for the City of Barrie, the City of Kitchener and the City of Hamilton were examined and served as methods of best practice. The lessons learned from the City of Kitchener and the City of Hamilton have been considered in my proposal for the City of Barrie. This research has revealed that smaller cities should employ place-making strategies that emphasize the arts and culture sector in order to enhance the urban fabric. Based on comparable precedents, small scaled and strategic projects prove to be more economically feasible in comparison to costly large scaled projects. Place-making strategies result in greater economic spin-offs, facilitate community engagement, foster civic pride and advance the city's prosperity.