Kirsten Schrader says the new arts and entertainment grants will help the Cowichan Valley arts community adapt to digital. (Submitted)

CVRD grants pave way for digital arts development

The Pivot Program will support the development of a community-focused digital studio space

Digital arts and entertainment development is the focus of two grants received recently by the Cowichan Valley Regional District that total $92,000.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Arts and Culture Division have been awarded a Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategies Grant of $47,000 and project assistance through the Pivot Program of $45,000 supported by the British Columbia Arts Council. The Digital Strategies Grant will be used to fund a series of free online learning workshops to build digital capacity for the Cowichan Region’s arts community and the Pivot Program will support the development of a community-focused digital studio space for video and audio creation, recording, and editing at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.

The digital studio space will offer the local community, students, performers, and artists the opportunity to gain experience with technology and digital mediums. This free space will be dedicated to digital creativity, collaboration and storytelling through video editing, podcasting, and special effects development using a green screen.

“This innovative space has the potential to become a highly creative community workspace that will inspire artistic expression and experimentation,” says Kirsten Schrader, manager of the Arts and Culture Division at the CVRD and the manager of the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. “This studio can be a transformative space openly networked, interest powered, and production centered, that will spark ground-breaking ideas — in a totally unprecedented way for the Cowichan region.”

With live events almost entirely shut down for the last year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an unprecedented shift to offering digital entertainment. Local groups have been scrambling to try to adapt.

In consultation with the community, a series of digital workshops have been designed to address the needs of the local arts community. Some of the workshops offered include understanding the use of social media to promote arts events, photographing artwork for the internet, developing and marketing a podcast, the basics of livestreaming and recording an event, identifying digital opportunities for online promotion, web-based methods to manage an arts organization’s membership, website and more.

“Feedback from the arts community prompted us to apply to the Canada Council Digital Strategy Fund to fill gaps in digital literacy among the arts sector,” continues Schrader. “There are five sub-regional arts councils in the CVRD as well as dozens of arts-focused non-profit societies operating at different levels of digital expertise. We will work with them to provide whatever level of digital learning they require to stay relevant and competitive since it is imperative that all arts organizations have a presence online and the need for digital expertise has certainly been heightened by the pandemic.”

The proposed workshops will invite experts in online promotion, using common digital platforms, writing and developing new business models relevant to the digital world, planning online art exhibitions, and cultural tourism promotion from industry experts.

The workshops have already started and will continue through the summer and fall of 2021. For more information on the classes and registration, go to

Cowichan Valley Citizen