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Thursday, April 12, 2007
Cultural Planning Toolkit
Oh, the Canadians. I had the task of submitting a tender for a Cultural Planning Toolkit to be funded by DCMS last year. We didn't get it, though we got close...

But now I see that the Canadians have got there first and, from at least my very brief glance, done it better than anything resulting from a trial-by-committee British approach to such things. Here is their version of a CPT.

Wonderfully, it doesn't even mention the word 'art' in the introduction, except in a sentence about European approaches. It talks about cultural planning as a "way of looking at all aspects of a community's cultural life as community assets...Understanding culture and cultural activity as resources for human and community development, rather than merely as cultural 'products' to be subsidised because they are good for us...and when our understanding of culture is inclusive and broader than the traditionally Eurocentric vision of 'high culture' then we have increase the assets with which we can address civic goals."

When was the last time you saw a piece of British policy talk about 'civic goals'? It is all similarly good stuff - clear writing about pride of place and local identity, and the idea of 'democratic cultural policy'. It has a very clear step-by-step process to cultural planning, based on a community mapping and participatory approach, and including a great list of the downsides to planning - "planning isn't magic...planning can become a subsittue for action" and others.

And it has the best policy definition of 'culture' that I've come across: "Culture is what counts as culture to the people involved - the shared beliefs, customs, rituals and values of a people in a given place and at a given time."

Simple and bold. Couldn't see DCMS coming up with that one.


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