Framework for Cultural Development Planning

“Intended to contribute to more effective practice in cultural development planning”, this online resource is based on research into municipal cultural services as well as trials “with local government in various area of Australia throughout 2017”. The authors indicate that the resource could be used either to help create a new cultural plan or assess an existing plan.

Previous research into local cultural plans in the state of Victoria identified “a lack of an agreed framework and informing principles” as well as the need for:

  • “more connection between cultural plans and other strategic council documents”;
  • “more systematic use of data and evidence”;
  • “greater focus on outcomes, rather than inputs and activities”;
  • “more cohesive theories of change”; and
  • “stronger evaluation practices”.

Grounded in international research into the outcomes and benefits of culture, the resource “is based around the recognition of five domains of public policy and activity (cultural, economic, environmental, governance and social)…. At the centre of the domains is the concept of flourishing and fulfilled individuals, which would be the result of good outcomes were achieved across all the domains.”

The framework provides measurable outcomes for cultural activity in each of the five domains, allowing local government officials to “conceptualise and measure the change they might seek”. For example, outcomes within the cultural domain include: the stimulation of creativity; aesthetic enrichment; gaining new knowledge, insights, or ideas; appreciation of the diversity of cultural expression; and experiencing a “sense of belonging to shared heritage”.

The framework outlines six key planning principles:

  • Based on community values
  • Directed towards goals
  • Focussed on outcomes (i.e., “the difference our work will make to those we are responsible to serve, rather than the activity undertaken to get there”)
  • Informed by evidence
  • Underpinned by a theory of change (i.e., “the reason why we do what we do”)
  • Respondent to evaluation (i.e., “evaluation findings are used to inform future decision-making”)
Summary: 

“Intended to contribute to more effective practice in cultural development planning”, this online resource could be used either to help create a new local cultural plan or assess an existing plan. The framework provides measurable outcomes for cultural activity in each of five domains (cultural, economic, environmental, governance and social).