North Shore Culture Compass connects arts community

Interactive mapping tool features more than 450 listings of local points of cultural and historic significance

Arts and culture just got a major boost on the North Shore, especially for those who may be prone to getting lost.

After several years of development, and a year of testing, a new interactive mapping tool is set to help locals and tourists alike connect and discover the region’s arts, culture and heritage.

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Nancy Cottingham Powell, executive director of North Van Arts, is thrilled to announce the official launch of the North Shore Culture Compass.

The online tool currently features more than 450 listings of local points of cultural and historic significance encompassing 10 categories. The categories include creative and cultural industries, natural heritage, cultural spaces and facilities, cultural organizations, festivals and events, First Nations, public art, and more, according to Powell.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have so many more,” she says. “When we did beta there were residents that were helping us out and they definitely were saying that there were gems on here that they had no idea existed.”

While bigger arts and culture centres across the North Shore – think Capilano University’s BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts, the Polygon Gallery, or Kay Meek Arts Centre – may be ubiquitous to many, other smaller venues might be lesser known outside of their direct communities, according to Powell. One such example, according to Powell, could be a place like the Hendry Hall, which was built in 1942 and since 1972 has been the permanent home of North Vancouver Community Players and their excellent performing arts.

And there’s also the story of North Vancouver’s Bluedog Guitars, which is billed as a “candy store” for guitar lovers in search of hand-made, high-quality acoustic guitars. The place also includes a host of rescue dogs that hang out in the shop.

“It’s a fabulous story, and yet very few people know about that – and what a way to shop local.” says Powell.

The North Shore Culture Compass uses the mapping software Esri and presents the various culture points across North and West Vancouver, and local First Nations, in a clean, beautiful and functional manner, according to Powell.

“It’ll move residents around more, so they won’t necessarily go to what’s visible in their immediate area and it’ll also really help with tourism,” she says.

Powell also highlights the Culture Compass’s value as a free digital marketing tool for local arts, history and culture organizations, noting that the platform includes robust census data and local statistics that organizations and local governments can use when it comes to programming, fundraising and developing their audiences.

The project was first spearheaded by North Van Arts in 2015. The project really took off following a $421,000 grant from the federal government’s strategic initiatives fund that was dished out in 2017.

While North Van Arts took the lead on mapping the region’s cultural assets, community partners include: the District of North Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, District of West Vancouver, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, North Vancouver Recreation and Culture, and other local partners.

“What we want is to get this tool into those tourists’ hands so that they can go, ‘OK, I’m going to go to Grouse and Capilano Suspension Bridge, and then what?’” says Powell, adding how useful the online map will be for locals as well. “It’s going to really help anchor people here.”

Visit to start exploring.


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