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Metro sparks up arts listings site

Taxpayers pay to start online calendar
Metro Vancouver has launched a new arts listings website at

Metro Vancouver has launched a website for arts and culture event listings from across the region, despite previous qualms over whether it's a good expenditure of tax dollars.It's at – short for Metro Arts Xperience.The site accepts contributed listings from approved organizations, individuals and businesses.It's searchable and includes a map view to find listings by neighbourhood, along with videos, reviews, links to buy tickets and social media tie-ins.The calendar site cost Metro $57,000 to create but it expects to spend another $32,000 on adjustments, maintenance and improvements.Surrey Coun. Judy Villeneuve, who chairs Metro's regional cultural committee, said the site doesn't compete with existing media outlets."There wasn't a central place for people to go to one spot and find out all the information they wanted," she said."This is going to link all the arts and cultural events in the entire Metro Vancouver area into one central site."Besides debate at the board about whether Metro should be involved, she said some media outlets were concerned the competition would cost them advertising revenue.The Georgia Straight had petitioned Metro to open up the concept to private bids.But Villeneuve said those fears seem to have subsided, adding the site should help drive traffic to reviews on other media websites.The concept was recommended by Max Wyman, the previous chair of the Metro regional cultural committee, who said arts and culture must be fostered as an important factor in ensuring the sustainability of communities.The site doesn't charge for listings but Metro hopes to raise corporate sponsorship for the site to cover ongoing maintenance costs.