Local Cultural Planning Labs: In March 2019, we completed our four subregional Cultural Planning Labs, a partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission that introduced cultural planning concepts and resources to all 34 Essex County communities. Over 210 municipal leaders, town planners and nonprofit leaders attended these Labs, where these learnings emerged:
- The Labs were an effective convening of the arts and culture, government, business, and philanthropic sectors in order to work together on important issues of community culture.
- Cross-sector leadership and a base of operations to advance cultural initiatives and equity in our communities is needed. ECCF is uniquely suited to advance that work through the development and management of an Essex County Cultural Plan.
- The region’s arts and culture ecosystem are ready and able to serve all areas of community development – including housing, transportation, health, and economic development – with coordination, technical assistance, and support.
- The region’s arts and culture sector can benefit from templates, toolkits, and training to share best practices, processes, and program prototypes in cultural planning, arts policy, and creative placemaking.
- Expanded funding opportunities for community-driven arts and culture can come from unexpected sources and can be fostered in future ECCF/CCI work.
Essex County Cultural Plan: A countywide arts and cultural plan will connect our 34 cities and towns through our shared values and heritage, improving the quality of life in Essex County. This plan will “map” our region’s arts and cultural assets, create a vision for cultural development and connect our coastal, city and rural communities through arts and culture. This spring, ECCF, MAPC, and MVPC will develop an Essex County Cultural Plan.