Cultural planning is a public process in which representatives of a community undertake a comprehensive community assessment and create a plan of implementation for future cultural programming.
Successful cultural plans address the needs, opportunities, and cultural resources of the community. Cultural planning may be narrowly focused on the needs of artists, arts organizations, and audiences; however, cultural planners are increasingly considering the role of culture in resolving broader community issues.
Stats from the December 2010 Monograph Local Arts Agencies 2010:
- 1/3 of the nation’s LAAs have recently worked on a cultural plan.
- 34% of the responding LAAs report that they have completed or updated a community cultural plan within the past 5 years.
- Public government LAAs are more likely to have recently completed or updated a cultural plan than are private nonprofit LAAs (41% and 31%, respectively).
Types of Cultural Planning Projects (Adapted from Craig Dreezen)
Comprehensive detailed cultural plan
- Community-wide plan based on broadly defined understanding of culture with integrated goals compiled through community consultation.
Cultural plan with a single discipline focus
- Community-wide plan with a specific focus, for example on the arts sector alone, or a focus on the visual arts, etc.
Community cultural assessment or cultural mapping
- A comprehensive identification and analysis of a community’s cultural resources and needs gathered through a broadly based consultative/collaborative process. It is a critical early phase of any cultural planning process.
Cultural plan with a specific focus
- Economic impact study, a feasibility study for fundraising campaign, a feasibility study for a facility, a cultural district study, or a cultural tourism study.
Cultural component of municipal or regional general plan
- Arts and/or heritage and/or culture are integrated vertically as one part of a city or master plan, e.g., a section or chapter of the plan is dedicated to arts, culture, heritage, etc.
Before You Start Cultural Planning:
- Ask questions and listen to others in your community
- Build your partnerships and alliances
- Learn about the decision-makers in your community
- Research funding possibilities
Step 1: Preparation (2-3 months)
Step 2: Information Gathering and Research (4-6 months)
Step 3: Assessment and Analysis (2-3 months)
Step 4: Organization and Consultation (ongoing)
Step 5: Writing the Plan (1-2 months)
Step 6: Public Consultation (2-3 months)
Step 7: Finalizing and Adoption (1-2 months)
Step 8: Launch (1 month)
Step 9: Implementation, Monitoring and Review (Ongoing)
Tools and Resources
Creative Community Builder's Handbook: How to Transform Communities Using Local Assets, Arts, and Culture
Art and culture can be a powerful catalyst for revitalizing the economic, social, and physical conditions in communities. This handbook gives you successful strategies, best practices, and “how-to” guidance to turn cultural gems into effective community change.
Community Cultural Planning: A Guidebook for Community Leaders
This guidebook was designed as tool to help navigate the cultural planning process. It outlines five steps to developing a cultural plan for your community, as well as profiles of seven communities and their plans and recommendations for effective planning which will help you ensure optimal benefits for arts and culture in your community.
Community Cultural Planning Handbook
This handbook provides an overview of the practice of cultural planning. It is intended to help local officials and community and cultural leaders decide if cultural planning makes sense for their communities, and if so, how to proceed. Community cultural planning can be used to identify and mobilize cultural resources in service of improved cultural and community development.