White Rock now has more than just a vision of a being a place where arts and culture flourish – it has a plan.
Council Monday (Oct. 6) gave unanimous support to approving the White Rock Cultural Strategy and Implementation Plan 2014-2018; a document that is intended to guide the city in enhancing arts and culture in the community.
Such planning “allows us to identify the community’s cultural resources and to provide a roadmap to where we want to be in the future,” leisure services director Eric Stepura explains in a report to council.
“With a futuristic vision for culture, we can work collaboratively with community arts and cultural partners and stakeholders to establish White Rock as a thriving cultural destination.”
Impressed with the plan – which outlines six strategic goals and 39 recommended actions – Mayor Wayne Baldwin said the test will be in ensuring it doesn’t go the way of some previous grand endeavours.
“The challenge for us is not to take it as we do with many reports… and never see it again,” he said.
Noting the coming election could shift the look of council, Baldwin encouraged task force members to push whoever wins the seats Nov. 15 to follow the plan through.
It includes a call – which council also endorsed be considered in the city’s 2015-2019 financial plan – for an additional $67,000 in funding over the next four years. The majority of that funding is eyed for first-year projects and initiatives – including $25,000 for a cultural event-hosting incentive-grant program, and $12,500 to develop a summer concert-in-the-park series.
In response to a question from Coun. Helen Fathers, Stepura confirmed the $67,000 is over and above the $50,000 allocated annually to the city’s public-art budget.
“It seems like pocket change, really,” Fathers said of the additional funds.
It’s hoped the four-year plan can be accomplished in three years, Stepura added.
Prior to Stepura’s report, council heard more detail on each of the plan’s six strategic goals from task force members Kelly Breaks, Roxanne Charles, Sherron Fairbairn, Pat McLean and Mary Brunet.
Among actions recommended under the goal of promoting the value of arts and culture is to rebrand the leisure services department, including a name change to Recreation and Cultural Services.
There are nine recommended actions under the goal of develop diverse arts programs and festivals, including develop a busker’s festival, support development of a winter film festival and partner with Semiahmoo First Nation to co-host more cultural events at Semiahmoo Park. In July 2013, the RCMP Musical Ride performed at the park.
Weaknesses identified in the plan include a small volunteer pool, a lack of uptown vibrancy at night and parking fees that deter people from attending events at the waterfront.
Planning for the cultural strategic plan got underway in 2011; the seven-member task force was formed in 2013 to oversee the delivery of goals and actions outlined in the Arts Economic Strategy and Implementation Plan 2013-2017.
The group’s role was expanded this year to include working with city staff to develop the cultural strategy and implementation plan.
Stepura described the plan as “the result of considerable community and stakeholder engagement.” He said benefits of its successful implementation will include: attract local, regional, national and international visitors to White Rock; enhance the quality of life for residents; and, generate economic growth through arts- and culture-related businesses and event hosting.
He described development of a cohesive arts community with strong community partnerships as “one of the single greatest benefits” that has been seen to date.
“There’s a cohesion among the arts community that never existed before,” he said.
The plan also proposes creation of a cultural advisory committee, to retain and expand partnerships within the arts community and to oversee implementation of the cultural strategy.