City of Kitchener, Conestoga College collaborate to boost arts and culture in city

By Divya Gill

The City of Kitchener is joining forces with Conestoga College to expand the School of Creative Industries in the city's downtown core. The school will be a state-of-the-art facility designed to inspire creativity and innovation.

Kitchener's mayor was in attendance at the announcement on Friday and said the city will invest up to $15 million, “including the potential contribution of land to support the school's growth.”
“Arts and culture speak to the soul of a community,” said Berry Vrbanovic. “This is an investment in the people, talent, and the job creation necessary to make creative industries thrive in Kitchener. 
This has been in the works for a few years. Mayor Vrbanovic expressed that the pandemic has demonstrated the creative economy's importance and role.

He adds the creative economy is becoming one of the fastest-growing centres worldwide. Locally, “if we want to create the jobs that will ensure our young people aren’t left behind, that community can play a role in the creative economy not only within the community but also within the world nationally and internationally. this type of investment and partnership is key.”

The school currently offers 17 high-quality, innovative programs like game and animation, media, and production in different sectors. But, Pejman Salehi, Executive Dean of Conestoga's School of Creative Industries, said “this is not enough.” 
“Our goal is to expand our learning spaces and focus on other areas of the industry game-art, artificial intelligence in design, visual design, special effects, virtual reality merchandising, motion graphics, e-sport, and much more.”
The school is also expected to double its program offerings across various credentials, including diplomas, degrees, and graduate certificate programs.   
“Every community's need for a vibrant arts & culture scene. That is why creative industries were identified as a key area for investment in our Make It Kitchener 2.0 economic strategy. However, the ongoing demand in cities like Kitchener for creative talent comes to a predictable skills shortage. Today's partnership with Conestoga College will help address this shortage and invest in the people and talent. Job creation is necessary to make creative industries thrive for our community and cities everywhere,” added Vrbanovic. 

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