Cultural Planning is the process by which a community’s heritage, art & cultural resources & assets are mapped. A Cultural Plan then helps establish a vision and strategic direction for economic development which includes the creative, artistic, and cultural voice of a community. The effects of the arts, when translated into economic terms, can be enormous…but is so often overlooked.
The Cultural Map includes the community’s cultural strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and also its threats. The Cultural Plan can be used by the municipality, its businesses, grant writers, planners, and citizens to help with strategy, with direction, and also to establish cohesion between sectors.
Cultural Vitality is one of the 4 Pillars of Sustainability (the others being Economics, Social Equity, Environmental Responsibility)…yet the impact of Art & Culture in a community is often ignored by planners and/or politicians. Culture is all about quality of life.
For example, in 2010 The Value of Culture in Canada was measured at $47.7 billion (total National Culture GDP) by Statistics Canada. In 2014, the Culture GDP in BC alone was calculated (by Culture Satellite Account, CSA) as $6,667 million.
Just down the road, in Nelson, a 2003 report suggested that the gross economic impact of the arts and heritage was estimated to be around $198 million. Since that time, this figure has grown even more. The City of Nelson has a Cultural Development Committee, which is a volunteer board and which reports to the City Council.
Cultural Development is a growing field and the New Denver/Silverton area is not too small to integrate and consolidate resources which link back to the arts. A Cultural Plan could allow the community to craft a shared cultural vision and generate a roadmap for Community Action. The Plan could also develop a Governance Model; there are plenty of examples in Canada from which to draw on. The key is community engagement and stakeholder buy-in.
The Arts Council is an appropriate agent of Cultural Planning. The majority of municipalities in Ontario have Cultural Plans; it’s accepted practice in that province. For example, Algonquin Highlands, a township of 4 villages with a population of only 2,000 has one of these plans, and is proud of it…and uses it to encourage investment.