Why Cultural Development Is Important to Your Community
Cultural Development refers to the strategic planning and implementing of strategies to leverage your community’s unique cultural assets for the economic and cultural benefit of the community as a whole.So, if one community is famous for its food festivals in the summer, but its winter sledding competitions are less well known, appropriate cultural development strategies would find ways to boost both events: continue to market the summer food festivals but create awareness for and interest in the winter competitions.
In other words, a cultural development program makes what your community has to offer:
- accessible — people need to know about it in order to participate,
- attractive — tell tourists and locals why they should visit, and
- sustainable — what are the best ways to showcase your community’s culture that won’t negatively affect the community now and in the years to come.
To implement a successful cultural development program in your community, consider the 3 Cs — collating, connecting and collaborating.
The 3 Cs of Cultural Development: Coordinate, Connect and Collaborate
When deciding whether your community needs to have a cultural development program, there are a few key points that you should consider:
Do you ever find that events clash in your community? For example, a music festival happens on the same weekend as an arts festival? While both events might still be successful individually, having to share the spotlight with another major community event means that each suffers from having potentially fewer participants and volunteers.
The first step in developing a cultural development program is to collate what your community has to offer.
This would entail mapping everything that is currently a public cultural offering in your community. In this first stage, you don’t have to worry about clashes or when these events typically fall. This is the information-collection stage. Your task, in this phase, is awareness.
You likely already have tools at your disposal to get this information, including events lists from past years, surveys, and past permit applications.
Once you have information on the cultural terrain of your community, and what community organizers have offered in the past, you are ready to move on to the next stage.
Having this information at your fingertips is important in creating and implementing a cultural development program. But other stakeholders should have this information too.
- Organizers would benefit from knowing the timing of other festivals, as well as what new events are being offered on an ongoing basis, in order to better plan their own events
- Tourists and locals would find such information useful in planning trips, and buying tickets in advance as these are often discounted
- Municipal service providers can prepare for an influx of tourists in advance to make all events safer and more enjoyable for all
One of the easiest and most useful ways to present cultural information is through a culture portal. A culture portal can take your cultural development program to the next level because it:
- Consolidates your community’s cultural offerings in one place, so locals and tourists can easily find what they are looking for
- Is user-friendly, so interested parties can navigate it well and easily find what they are looking for
- Informs event organizers about what “competitors” may be offering and when, so they can choose a time that will be optimal for their event
- May be a source of municipal revenue if advertising or other paid features are enabled
- Facilitates a sense of community pride by showcasing what the community has to offer and giving members access to different cultural experiences right in their own backyards
The final phase of your cultural development strategy should involve using the resource you’ve created (your culture portal) and incorporating feedback from its use into making it even better.
Data from your culture portal would give your municipality insight into:
- Whether the existing portal is addressing the needs of the community
- What ideas members of the community have for making it even better suited to showcasing their unique matrix of cultural practices
- The number of unique and overall visits to the site. When analysed alongside the popularity of specific events in your community, this data can be useful for municipal planning purposes and may also be used to prove the impact of this tool as part of municipal spending
Get the Help You Need to Optimize Your Cultural Development Program
The 3 Cs of cultural development — coordinate, connect and collaborate — will get you started on your community’s cultural development program. For help analysing your data and setting up your portal, and to streamline the process even further, call on the cultural development specialists at MDB Insight.
MDB Insight offers an integrated 3-pronged set of services: cultural planning, cultural mapping, and creative industries and cultural economy strategies. Together, these services help municipalities leverage their unique cultural identity to create more vibrant and economically competitive communities.
To learn more about how MDB Insight can help your municipality, download this e-book: