This is the first blog for what will be regular blogs on Cultural Planning, Creative Cities and Economic Development - including Cultural and Culinary Tourism, the Local Food Revolution, and the CRINK Economy (Creative, Innovative, Knowledge-based).
I've been working on projects with Eric and his great team at McSweeney & Associates for a while now, and we share a very similar philosophy - that strong, prosperous communities are at the core of culturally advanced communities that offer a high quality of life. So a Municipal Cultural Plan has to understand and help lead the economic development and prosperity agenda for that municipality.
This is something that some consultants don't seem to get. Cultural Planning isn't about trying to build new arts edifices or promote some exclusive agenda - it is about a holistic approach to the community's needs, recognizing the strength of building and re-building neighbourhooods, advancing an agenda of change and progress, and ensuring that culture - in the broadest definition - becomes one of the four pillars of sustainability for Canadian towns and cities.
The process must also be driven from the ground up, not imposed from the top down. In other words, a broad, open and positive community engagement process must take place, and it must be an honest and responsive process.
The end result will be a solidly-grounded, community-based vision and plan that can aid the municipal council in its strategic, economic and community efforts. It's an exciting opportunity for towns and cities, and we'll explore some of the unique benefits, procedures and things to watch out for in this blog in the months ahead.