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On June 18, 2015, The Craft Council of BC was thrilled to join the diversity of artists, organizations, businesses and government representatives at ArtsSummit 2015, an event initiated by BC’s Alliance for Arts and Culture. Each June, the ArtSummit serves to create dialogue, networking and professional opportunities for the Arts, but 2015’s Summit was particularly exciting with their delivery of the Final Report on a Cultural Policy Framework for BC. This report was initiated by BC Creative Convergence, and was formulated through two years of province-wide conversations around the creation of a public policy  for our cultural community.

Why is a Cultural Policy Framework for BC important?

British Columbia proudly represents a large concentration of artists and artistic activity, yet we are rooted in a province with a cost of living that sacrifices our ability to evolve. In order for BC’s unique cultural expressions to thrive, we need a government that consistently supports the presence of arts and culture. Having a cultural policy would help foster a commitment to the arts and would allow for more conversation between the cultural community and our government. A cultural policy bears significance for all of us who consider creating as an essential extension of ourselves. Having more provincial support would ideally allow more ease for the individual artist, while also encouraging cultural expression as a whole.

What is cultural policy and how is it expressed?

A Cultural Policy Framework provides the overarching structure that expresses the government’s relationship to the arts; rather than a commitment to a strategic plan, the framework acts as a guide to policy making, which can then be formally presented to caucus.

Through the ArtsSummits in 2013 and 2014, and various committee discussions, a Discussion Paper was created which served to be the centre-holder for further conversation at the Community Cultural Roundtables. These Roundtables, held province-wide, served as an essential catalyst for community conversation around specific regional needs and idea sharing in general. These diverse insights were essential in assuring that all voices were heard in providing grassroots input towards cultural policy. Alliance had shared their enthusiasm in visiting these diverse communities throughout our province, and their advice was to “explore and travel!”. There are many remote communities in BC doing inspiring projects that need our support.

Dawn Brennan, the director of the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Association (GVPTA),  shared some inspiring advice in pursuing large-scale ideas through “Cathedral Thinking”.  This thought process is historically based on the stone builder’s colossal attempt to build cathedrals, despite the reality that they would not be finished during their lifetime. These bold attempts are important in building grand visions for organizations because  “the higher the compelling vision, the more engaged people will be in it”. In other words, create a plan, even if other people have to implement it. 

Alliance for Arts and Culture helped initiate a productive trajectory in furthering the cultural development of BC. The Craft Council is grateful to attend both the Roundtable discussion in Vancouver, as well as ArtSummit2015. Both of these opportunities were educational and inspiring in sharing perspectives with other community organizations, as well as hearing voices from leaders and innovators who are pursuing exciting projects.  Thanks to Alliance for Arts and Culture for leading these projects and discussions, and for uniting BC communities in what is an essential movement for the arts.

Keep up to date with Alliance for Arts and Culture for the Final Report which will be released online in the coming weeks!