The Town of Cobourg is planning to create a Cultural Master plan. In this context, “culture” does not mean the different cultures of ethnic groups but refers to the arts, both performing and visual, with the addition of heritage factors. Major goals of the Strategic plan that was developed when the Council was new, were increased awareness of and investments in culture, and an arts and culture centre. Decisions on what to do about the Park Theatre and the Marie Dressler House have been deferred pending this plan. However, with an implementation time frame of 12-15 months, any resulting action will be the responsibility of the next council. At the next Committee of the Whole Council meeting on April 2nd, Council will be asked to approve hiring a consultant to do the work at a budgeted cost of $90,000 and to approve appointing a steering committee who will be recruited from Cobourg’s arts and culture community. The committee is scheduled to be in place by May 2018.
Since the rationale for the plan came from part of Objective 2 in the 2015-2018 Strategic Plan, let’s look at what it said:
Objective 2. Supporting the preservation and enhancement of the Town’s recreation, arts, culture and heritage
- Develop a cultural master plan
- Develop a policy on the Town’s financial support for arts, culture and heritage
- Develop an implementation plan for the parks master plan
- Implement the Cobourg Community Centre campus plan
- Implement the recreation strategy plan
- Community awareness and support of Cobourg’s history and stories to be told
- Well maintained heritage district with consistent application of policies
- Increased investment in our arts, culture and heritage assets
- Presence of an arts and culture centre in the Town of Cobourg
- Recreation services meet the needs of all ages in the Town
- Enhanced bike and trails systems as well as integrated walking and cycling systems with neighbouring municipalities
- Receive Prince of Wales heritage award
This work is being led by Dean Hustwick, Director of Recreation and Culture – his covering memo to Council says:
A Cultural Master Plan will help to:
- broaden and evolve the Town’s role in arts and culture;
- build a strong, vital and connected arts and culture sector;
- strengthen communications within the arts and culture network;
- create vibrant arts & culture places and spaces;
- provide access and promote inclusion in Cobourg’s cultural life; and
- expand culture-led economic development.
…. a Cultural Master Plan Steering Committee be appointed from organizations and individuals within Cobourg’s arts and culture community. Furthermore, throughout the project, there will be numerous opportunities to engage the public and stakeholders directly in the development of the Cultural Master Plan itself.
Organizations and individuals interested in sitting on the Steering Committee are encouraged to submit to the Town either an organizational overview/mandate or a Curriculum Vitae along with a brief summary of experience and expertise. Applications will be reviewed by a committee comprised of the Council Coordinator for Community Services, the Director of Recreation & Culture and the Manager of Community Services. Final recommendations for Steering Committee membership will be brought to Council for approval no later than May 2018.
It seems that the Cultural Master plan will define how much involvement the Town has in Cultural (Arts) activities and whether we need or will get an “Arts Centre”. We are already pushing wellness, Heritage and Tourism generally – will there now be an enhanced push on Arts?
Update April 2
At the Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting, presumably in response to criticism over the use of Consultants, Dean Hustwick answered the question “Why use Consultants for the Cultural Plan?” He said: “Because there are consultants who specialize in Cultural Planning and we don’t have that level of expertise in house”.
Council approved the recommendation so hiring a consultant will proceed as recommended – subject to rubber-stamping approval at the regular Council meeting on April 9.