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The need for a cultural plan for the City of Edmonton was first discussed at Edmonton City Council in December, 2005 during the debate and approval of the 2006 City of Edmonton operating budget. This need for a unified and wide-ranging cultural plan for the City was spurred by:
- an ever-increasing realization of the importance of arts, heritage and culture to the city
- an acceptance that the City has key responsibilities in arts, heritage and culture
- an appreciation that the sector is becoming increasingly complex
- an awareness that the current economic boom in Alberta has increased the pace of development in Edmonton and emphasized the need to be proactive in many areas, including arts, heritage and culture.
At the 2006 budget debate and in a subsequent City Council meeting held in April 2006, funds were allocated to the Edmonton Arts Council to develop a cultural plan for the City of Edmonton. According to the terms of reference approved by Council, the cultural plan will describe a unified vision for the arts and culture in the Edmonton region over the next ten years and make recommendations in a range of areas that will help to realize the vision. Funding for Plan development was enhanced in December, 2006, when the Department of Canadian Heritage announced Edmonton’s designation as Canada’s Cultural Capital for 2007.
The City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Arts Council joined forces in the spring of 2006 to begin work on creating a cultural plan that would serve the city for the next decade. Edmonton Arts Council Executive Director John Mahon was appointed to lead the development of the plan.
The process began with the formation of a steering committee in spring 2006, whose 10 members were representative of a range of perspectives relevant to arts and heritage in Edmonton. Membership of the Committee was as follows: Catrin Owen, Chair; Susan Pointe (Edmonton Arts Council appointed member); Councillor Michael Phair; Carol Watson (City of Edmonton Administration); Adriana Davies (Heritage Community); Denise Assaly (Business Community); Christine Causing (General Community); Rudy Wiebe (Established Artist); Amber Borotsik (Emerging Artist); Shafraaz Kaba (Multicultural Community). Councillor Ben Henderson joined the committee after the October, 2007, civic elections.
Through a comprehensive series of focus groups, community meetings and widespread public consultations, and intensive steering committee dialogue, a comprehensive plan has been created.This document takes into account the very unique cultural environment that is the City of Edmonton and seeks to guide the socio-political direction of cultural policy planning for the immediate future.
The Art of Living: A Plan for Securing the Future of Arts and Heritage in the City of Edmonton: 2008-2018 was presented to City Council for review and approval in April, 2008. The Plan is built on the understanding that the arts, culture and heritage are not just side benefits to living in Edmonton; they are central to the definition of what this place is. While providing guidance to City Council and the civic administration, the Plan is intended to direct our community’s energy and passion towards the same goal—ensuring that culture continues to play a prominent role in shaping the history, destiny and feel of this unique place.