Cultural Action Plan: Building a Creative Community

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The Burlington Community Foundation recently released the second edition of Burlington’s Vital Signs – an annual check-up that evaluates Burlington as a place to live, work, and play by identifying trends that are critical to our quality of life. Included in that report are survey results that indicate 76% of residents said culture is “essential” or “highly important” in their daily lives.

Culture means many things – painting, writing, music, museums, public art, landscapes, streetscapes, memorials, sport. Culture can build our identity and community pride, improve the quality of life for all, engage people of all ages in our environment, and help us to embrace our diversity.

I have read a number of books and articles in recent months, particularly as we work through the process of creating our own Cultural Action Plan. Universally, they state that progressive communities need to integrate social, cultural, environmental and economic policies into the long-term plans for the city.

Gord Hume , in his book Cultural Planning for Creative Communities states that Cultural planning and “becoming a creative community means protecting our unique heritage properties, having a throbbing downtown core, being appealing to entrepreneurs, and generating new wealth. It means being a ‘Smart Community’. It means respecting the environment. It means being innovative and progressive as a community. It means having ‘buzz’.”

When we talk about culture, we often overlook the economic benefits and impact on a community. To remain competitive and ensure our sustainability, we must offer and provide a quality of life that will give us the distinctive difference and be a deciding factor in where businesses and people will choose to live.

There are also very immediate and tangible benefits from our cultural activities and organizations. The enormous number of visits to our top festivals and events like the Sound of Music and Children’s Festival, to performances at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Student Theatre, Theatre Burlington and Drury Lane, to exhibitions at the Burlington Art Centre, inject hundreds of thousands of dollars directly into our economy.

Burlington is changing. We are increasing our density in parts of our city – creating a new urbanization that opens up opportunities for attracting art and culture makers. This is an opportunity to further strengthen and develop the arts and artisans in Burlington in more innovative ways.

Council recently voted unanimously to approve the Cultural Action Plan, developed with consultant Cobalt Connects, that outlines a series of recommendations.The report that recommends the approval of the Cultural Action Plan is available online. Read the press release for more information.

Culture is at the heart of what makes our city unique and I’m pleased that Council has strongly supported this plan, which will contribute to vibrant neighbourhoods, prosperity and inspire collaborative opportunities to enrich the cultural fabric of our city.

At the committee meeting, I was overwhelmed by the passion and commitment of the many local artists who delegated to members of Council. I invite you to share their passion for arts and culture.

On NovemInspire Burlington Creative Citiesber 20th at the next Inspire Burlington, I have invited Jeremy Freiburger of Cobalt Connects and Trevor Copp, Artistic Director of Tottering Bi-ped Theatre, to engage and inspire us with their perspectives and experiences on Building a Creative Community. Jeremy Freiburger has been engaged as our leading consultant in this process and Trevor Copp has been intimately involved with this process from the beginning.

Registration is now open online or you can call my office at 905-335-7607.

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