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Cultural Planning

Executive Director's Letter
June 21, 2016

Exciting and innovative initiatives in arts and culture communities around the country are being launched or are underway. Cities as diverse as Chicago, Houston, and Boston where “Create Boston” was released last week, have developed strategies and agendas often referred to as cultural plans.

Although the definition of such a plan is flexible and has elements reflective of the distinct nature of each community, the CULTURAL PLANNING TOOLKIT: A Partnership between 2010 Legacies Now and Creative City Network of Canada describes it as follows: “Cultural planning is a process of inclusive community consultation and decision making that helps local government identify cultural resources and think strategically about how these resources can help a community to achieve its civic goals. It is also a strategic approach that directly and indirectly integrates the community’s cultural resources into a wide range of local government planning activities.”

In thinking about the future for the Baltimore area, the process of developing a plan or agenda is an exciting proposition and can provide an opportunity to address priorities such as arts education, funding and equity. It can also help the region capitalize on its unique cultural assets and presents a significant opportunity for Baltimore’s new leadership to foster regional cooperation and generate new sources of income.

Other related initiatives include innovative partnerships for funding in Minnesota, and more recently in San Francisco and Philadelphia. In 2008, Minnesota voters imposed a three-eighths of one percent tax on themselves for 25 years, until 2034, in the name of cleaner water, healthier habitat, better parks and trails and sustaining arts and cultural heritage. Today, five years later, that tax has generated more than a billion dollars for Legacy projects.

The humanities were among the winners in a recently passed “Soda Tax” in Philadelphia that is expected to raise about $91 million annually to be spent on expanding prekindergarten programs in the city; creating community schools; funding arts and culture; improving parks, recreation centers, and libraries; and offering a tax credit for businesses that sell healthy beverages.

The “San Francisco Arts and Families Funding Ordinance” will benefit both cultural activities and families living on the streets by restoring the allocation of the city’s hotel tax.

This is not to suggest that these are the precise solutions for our area, but that they should encourage us to think more expansively, not just about funding, but also about partnerships. Voters rallied around these efforts, which also helped to re-frame the ways in which citizens understand arts and culture as vital to all aspects of community success. We at GBCA and our partners, Citizen Artist Baltimore and Maryland Citizens for the Arts, are excited to help foster and support such a process with leadership here in Baltimore.

All the best,

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