Research released this week by Americans for the Arts sheds light on the aspirations, accomplishments, shortcomings, and methods used in cultural planning over the past decade and compares findings with Craig Dreeszen’s similar—although more extensive—study from 1994. The data reveal that expectations of cultural planning have increased significantly over these 20-plus years, and that the greatest change is in the emphasis on serving community interests rather than a focus on the arts and cultural sector’s own needs. While community-wide cultural planning helps formulate aspirations and action strategies, it doesn’t ensure results. Where cultural plans also set their sights, but where outcomes fell short, is in the area of cultural equity—expanding resources for under-represented groups including immigrant populations, removing barriers to participation, and bolstering education and youth development. Fewer than half of cultural plans included specific actions to address diversity, equity, and inclusion—a surprising finding in 2017.
Tom Borrup's blog
Tom Borrup's blog
I’ve had many great opportunities to witness how different communities organize themselves through, around, or into arts and cultural districts. In September, 2014, I had the pleasure of visiting a community in Marseille (800,000 population) in the south of France, a cluster of 8 small neighborhoods that formed a fascinating and alluring heritage and creative district with an approach I hadn’t seen in the United States.
Marseille was motivated by the opportunity to serve as European Capital of Culture for 2013, an effort that brought together players across government, creative, and business sectors to build working relationships like they never had before. The now 30-year-old Capital of Culture program rotates through the nations of the EU selecting cities to show off their distinctive creative and cultural assets. A total of 75 municipal entities in the Provence region (1.8 million population) – an area with no history of regional planning and little cooperation – demonstrated unprecedented unity and cultural vitality for their year in the European spotlight. It was branded Marseille-Provence 2013 or MP2013.