In order to build strong and sustainable communities in Northern Ontario, Art and culture must play a new and prominent role. Northern Ontario communities, many of which are small, rural and remote, face unique challenges. Art and cultural initiatives bring opportunities and help support conditions necessary for economic growth and development. In its initial phase and under the direction of arts administrator and artist Roy Mitchell, a province-wide feasibility study has been initiated that will lead to the creation of an LGBT Cultural Centre in a selected Northern Ontario city. The creation of a dynamic and localized LGBT Cultural Centre supports the lauded theory of Richard Florida, University of Toronto Professor and visionary writer. Florida’s theory asserts that regions with high concentrations of technology workers, artists, musicians as well as lesbians and gay men add to a higher level of economic development in any region. Florida refers to these groups collectively as the “creative class” and posits that the creative class fosters an open, dynamic, personal and professional environment that in turn, attracts creative people, businesses and capital. Roy Mitchell, who grew up in Northern Ontario, believes in a vibrant Northern Canada and North Bay has been selected to be the first city to participate in the assessment study researching the state of queerness in the North and developing an understanding for LGBT Cultural Capacity and is honoured to participate in the Dream Big Conference. Researchers will be on-site interviewing people of their experiences followed a presentation of the study’s preliminary findings as a brief overview of the project in a publication following the conference.
Roy Mitchell is an arts administrator whose practice includes video and performance. He also writes and since leaving Toronto for a century-old farm north of Bancroft, Ontario has been working as a consultant for arts organizations and government agencies.