This submission is the latest in a series of guest columns on city issues, provided by Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling’s office.
Have you heard about the newly updated Community Cultural Plan? Created by and for the community, the plan provides an overall direction, with measurable goals and strategies to guide the City and community in continued development for arts and culture for the next six years. Literary, performing, and visual arts, film and other media, and heritage are all part of the mix. The array of arts and cultural treasures in Edmonds is impressive, and the Community Cultural Plan (CCP) suggests the next steps in supporting, expanding and better utilizing those assets in the future.
The plan was developed by residents like you who shared priorities and ideas for arts during the outreach process. Led by a consultant, with an advisory team of 22 community members and the input of participants at the June 2013 Arts Summit, the process also included resident input from workshops, focus groups, public survey events, and an online questionnaire. This outreach was conducted in tandem with the Parks and Open Space Plan update, and included ideas from people with many different interests.
The Advisory Team’s commitment to the ongoing value of having a planning document for arts and culture is expressed in a cover letter they attached to the finished plan:
“The creation of this plan was a community effort…. For a city of our size, we offer a multitude of arts and cultural activities in a spectacularly beautiful setting. Edmonds is truly the gem of the Puget Sound area. But we need nourishment and caring. This well thought-out plan is a treasure map that can lead our city to better utilize the many wonders that already exist in arts and culture.”
During the public engagement process the vision that emerged was that arts and culture are central to the community’s identity; people want access to a wide variety of arts experiences integrated into everyday life, and while working in and visiting Edmonds. Five themes were identified to work toward this vision:
The look and feel of arts and culture is central to Edmonds’ identity. Integrate art elements in public spaces, use spaces for accessible arts activities, and market Edmonds as an arts destination. Longer term planning should sustain a culture-oriented community and include projects like the 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor as part of economic development.
Continue to embrace an expansive view of art and culture. Include and respond to multiple forms of artistic and cultural expression, provide free and low-cost events, and encourage participation in the arts for people of all age groups and backgrounds.
Foster creative community partnerships to strengthen local cultural organizations and increase accessibility to arts and cultural experiences. Whether it is a periodic gathering that builds on
the 2013 Arts Summit, a partnership for joint marketing, or engaging youth in internship roles, collaboration builds both future audiences and leaders in the arts.
• USE SPACE
Great spaces for art have been established as a result of previous plans, and now the focus has shifted to maximizing and diversifying use of space for arts and cultural activities. Maintaining current venues and using spaces creatively is a priority, but leadership and advocacy is also critical for development of new spaces and development that can accommodate and support artists in Edmonds.
Strengthening communication is a key theme that resonates with the general public and arts organizations alike. Leadership for the plan from the City and representation of arts throughout community and governmental entities contribute to building more effective strategies to get the word out about arts related opportunities.
In 1994, when the first Community Cultural Plan was written, it was clear Edmonds residents viewed the city as an “arts town,” but people felt the arts could take a greater leadership role in long term planning. Soon Edmonds became a regional leader in creating a “roadmap” for community arts and culture. The 2014 update of the CCP demonstrates that organizations and individuals in Edmonds have taken their responsibility seriously, ensuring that the City has continued to develop as an arts community. The Community Cultural Plan is a key document for the City of Edmonds and the entire community to use in shaping Edmonds’ arts scene – take a look for yourself: www.edmondsartscommission.org To join the arts office mailing list email firstname.lastname@example.org
— By Frances Chapin, Arts & Culture Manager, City of Edmonds