Our Community Culture Project Phase One Report: Realizing Hamilton’s Potential as a Creative City
Respondents: Patti Tombs (Manager, Cultural Initiatives) and Beth Wakeford (Project Co-ordinator)
Our Community Culture is a multi-year process leading to the development of a Cultural Plan for the City of Hamilton. Part of Phase One of the project involved completion of baseline cultural mapping for the City.
1. The most important positive outcomes for the municipality as a result of the cultural mapping project:
- The mapping data has been used in two other municipal reports: Human Services Planning Initiative and the Hamilton Creative Catalyst Project.
- We have been able to develop significant and meaningful relationships with internal and external stakeholders (Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts, Hamilton Public Library, colleagues in Public Works, Planning & Economic Development etc). These relationships position us well to move forward with Phase 2 (developing Cultural Policy & Plan) and in establishing a Cultural Mapping Roundtable (to continue the mapping process).
- We have also been invited to speak at a number of forums i.e. Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Grand River Conservation Authority Heritage Days, Creative Muskoka to share our mapping journey. This provides opportunities to position Hamilton as a “leader” in the municipal cultural planning world.
2. The biggest opportunities for the municipality in moving forward with cultural mapping:
- Using culture as a lens and integrate culture into planning initiatives.
- Engaging the community in the next phase of the project where we will share the results of our mapping data.
- Providing opportunity for the community to augment the data.
- Helping people understand culture’s role and contribution to the community.
3. The biggest barriers or obstacles in implementing the project:
- Initiating and maintaining an understanding of what the Project is and isn’t (i.e. not an Arts plan) and that this is Phase 1 (background research) for a multi-phase project which will result in a made in Hamilton Cultural Policy & Cultural Plan.
- Helping people understand that the Culture Division was “stewarding” and “steering” the Project on behalf of all City Departments and that the Culture Division did not have sole responsibility for the process or outcomes.
- Limited internal project profile and minimal Council awareness.
- Capacity/length of time to complete the project. Took several years to secure funding and then there were no dedicated staff resources, other emerging priorities often took precedence.
- Changes in the project scope from three phases to two, from a community consultation process to a deferred consultation approach, from the Creative City Network’s broad seven ways culture builds communities perspective to the emergence of three made-in-Hamilton strategic planning themes.
- Ongoing additions to the Project Steering Team and Cultural Mapping Working Group. Continuous additions to these teams necessitated multiple (and ongoing) orientation processes. Project began with eight people and in the end 32 different people contributed their expertise (this was also one of the biggest successes of the project).
- General workload pressures of adding a major project to staffs’ workplans which were already at capacity.
- Consistency in the community representation on the Project Steering Team. Initial Project Steering Team had four community members however only two of those participated actively.
- Limited knowledge, previous experience and expertise on the Core Team (Project Sponsor, Project Manager and Project Coordinator) with respect to data collection processes, mapping terminology, and data verification procedures.