The City of Brampton won an award for its' cohesive multi-platform marketing campaign to promote local culture in 2014. Culture Day’s Elvira Truglia spoke to Kelly Stahl, Senior Advisor, Economic Development and Tourism at the City of Brampton about the municipality’s innovative Culture Days initiative.
Kelly Stahl: With one of the youngest, most diverse and multicultural populations in Canada, Brampton has a strong foundation in the creative economy, employing over fifty thousand people from a broad range of creative and cultural industries. We recognize the essential contribution these creative workers make to cultural vibrancy of the City of Brampton, and the Culture Days program provides us with an opportunity to showcase their many talents and skills to inspire greater participation in arts and culture in our community.
Culture Days: What is the key to a successful marketing campaign and how did you apply this to Culture Days?
Kelly Stahl: Early planning and engagement, as well as consistent delivery were keys. Planning for the promotion of Culture Days in Brampton began early in 2014. A communications plan with buy-in from all stakeholders was vital to the success of the overall program. It established a marketing concept with time bound and relevant actions to build up promotion momentum right up to and including the event days themselves.
Early communication with stakeholders from the creative arts community in Brampton allowed them to provide input on planning, engage in the promotional process, and establish a network of promotional partners across the city.
A consistent look and feel was relevant to promoting Brampton Culture Days. The graphics template from the national Culture Days organization was leveraged to produce recognizable and eye-catching messaging from all stakeholders across different channels and locations in Brampton.
With our collective efforts we were able to renew special places and spaces in Downtown Brampton and create an impact that further supports Brampton as a great urban place to live, work and invest.
Culture Days: You included some innovative elements in your mix of strategies to promote and generate publicity for Culture Days – can you talk about them?
Kelly Stahl: Brampton is a very culturally diverse city, a strength which was leveraged in promotion. Stakeholders reached out to many cultural organizations to solicit participation and promote the events. The potential range of activities that could be made available from the diverse communities in the city made the possibilities for Culture Days events very exciting.
Poetry Magnets were produced for distribution as a giveaway at event locations for Culture Days. Participants got to walk away with a clever magnetic piece that could be used in creative ways at home, and reflected the look and feel and concept behind Brampton’s Culture Days marketing campaign. It was a very popular piece, and showed up in unexpected ways after the event, including elements being applied to the downtown Brampton library’s doors.
Culture Days: There is often a gap between expectations versus reality – did the marketing campaign meet your objectives to attract more participation in Culture Days?
Kelly Stahl: We had two participation goals for Culture Days in Brampton. One was to encourage Brampton’s Arts and Culture community to showcase their talent, and the second, to promote opportunities for Brampton residents to participate in, and appreciate, all forms of arts and culture.
The creative community exceeded our expectations as they began registering to participate in the weekend-long festival. With their support and enthusiasm we were successful in increasing the number of community groups and businesses delivering Culture Days events. Twenty-five groups hosted 64 activities (150% increase in organization participation, 97% increase in number of activities from 2013.)
Our Culture Days marketing plan also allowed us to formally introduce Culture Days as a meaningful and interactive event for the Brampton community. Our program helped to foster a sense of community spirit and emphasized the City’s creative and artistic culture, as more than 6000 residents participated in events across the City.
To grow their competitive advantage, municipalities need to prioritize investments in heritage, arts and culture.
Culture Days: How important is it for municipalities to make such a large scale investment in promoting local culture?
Kelly Stahl: We recognize that a strong creative sector helps to drive productivity and economic growth through knowledge-based activities (ideas, innovation, creativity, collaboration). We know that vibrant arts and culture resources create a unique destination attracting new residents and visitors. In order for municipalities to grow their competitive advantage, they need to prioritize investments to develop their heritage, arts and cultural resources and attributes.
Culture Days: You put a lot of effort into promoting Culture Days in Brampton, what was it like when you saw the activities roll out during the Culture Days weekend in September?
Kelly Stahl: There were a number of emotions as Culture Days unfolded in Brampton - we knew the quality of the programming that our participants were offering and we were confident that the community would share in our pride and excitement. It was a huge pleasure to watch kids intuitively interact with new technology tools. It was inspiring to see adults try their hand at different forms of creative expression. It was rewarding to see the passion of the creative community as they engaged people in their own art form or cultural expression. With our collective efforts we were able to renew special places and spaces in Downtown Brampton and create an impact that further supports Brampton as a great urban place to live, work and invest.
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