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Performance by two dancers from the Ottawa School of Dance

What is Cultural Mapping?

Cultural mapping has been defined as:

a systematic approach to identifying and recording cultural resources. It can identify and record tangible cultural resources using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools, but can also use community identity mapping to explore intangible cultural resources, such as unique histories, values, traditions and stories that combine to define a community’s identity and sense of place.

(from Greg Baeker:

This website includes both types of cultural mapping: tangible and intangible. Under “Map Search” you will find Ottawa’s tangible cultural resources on a map. These are things that can be located on a map, such as cultural facilities and spaces, built and natural heritage sites, cultural organizations and businesses, cultural events and festivals, and public art. In the “Z Space” you will find stories. This is a way of sharing intangible cultural resources – things that cannot be neatly pinned to a map, but that shine a light on the identity and unique culture in Ottawa.

This is a dynamic website that will be continuously updated. Anyone is welcome to contribute to the map.

Why did the City of Ottawa decide to undertake a cultural mapping project?

The City of Ottawa recognizes the important role of culture in building a healthy, vibrant, and prosperous city. The City initiated this project in order to create a dynamic online service that identifies Ottawa’s cultural and creative venues, sites, events, businesses, and organizations, while also showcasing and visually representing the value of these assets to our communities.

Why XYZ?

A piece of public art in Wellington West streetscape.

X and Y represent the coordinates of a spot on a map (latitude and longitude). In three dimensional mapping, Z represents depth (the 3rd dimension). Although the map is two dimensional (X and Y), depth (Z) carries meaning and importance. The depth of Ottawa’s cultural sector can be measured by its impact in communities. Culture touches the lives of each person in the city in one way or another. The “Stories” section of the website is called the “Z Space” – and its purpose is to share and highlight the impacts that culture has on places, communities, and people in Ottawa.

Who is leading the cultural mapping project?

Ottawa’s Cultural Mapping Project was initiated in 2010 by the City of Ottawa’s Cultural Services Branch, in conjunction with the Arts and Heritage Plan Renewal Process. Funding was received from the Province of Ontario’s Creative Communities Prosperity Fund for this initiative.  The City’s Cultural Development and Initiatives team continues to spearhead and implement the project, in collaboration with internal and external partners.

  • What's on the map?

    A circle, shaded pink, with two narrow vertical white rectangles inside.

    Cultural Facilities and Spaces – over 400 museums, nightclubs, galleries, fairgrounds, theatres, art schools, and other buildings and spaces that host cultural activities

    A circle, shaded yellow, with two narrow horizontal white rectangles inside.

    Cultural Events and Festivals – over 100 cultural festivals that occur each year (or on a regular  basis)

    A circle, shaded orange, with a white triangle inside.

    Not-For-Profit Cultural Organizations – over 100 organizations involved in the arts, heritage, festivals, and/or fairs

    A circle, shaded light blue, with three narrow vertical white rectangles inside.

    Cultural & Creative Businesses – over 700 businesses involved in the creation, production, manufacturing, and distribution of cultural goods, including photographers, film producers, commercial galleries, publishers, video game designers, heritage trades, and more

    A circle, shaded light brown, with a white square inside.

    Built Heritage – over 300 designated heritage buildings and sites, including 25 National Historic Sites, plus 18 heritage districts

    A circle, shaded green, with one narrow horizontal white rectangle inside.

    Natural Heritage – 21 areas of natural heritage and environmental significance, including several areas that are internationally recognized

    A circle, shaded red, with one vertical white rectangle inside.

    Public Art – over 130 pieces of commissioned public art distributed throughout the city

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