Cultural planning in local government

I guess not surprisingly, I keep being asked for real-life examples of local governments applying ‘four pillar thinking’ in their planning practices.

To me, that would mean applying a cultural perspective in the development and assessment of ALL their policies and programs.

And the sad news is that I’m unaware of ANY local government that is doing this. Which is not to say that it’s not happening, but rather that I’ve become so downhearted that I’ve stopped looking. The weird thing is that the idea has gathered huge traction, but the practice (as is perhaps always so) drags way behind.

There are many obvious reasons why this is so. Chief among them, to my mind, is the persisting concept of ‘arts and culture’. Most ‘cultural’ plans art really ‘arts’ plans, despite my constant harping that ‘the arts’ while they are hugely important, are in fact a relatively tiny part of the way we make, store and transmit meaning.

Anyway, in response to the original question, I’ve just added a page to The Hawkes Library that lists local government material on cultural plans that mentions the Fourth Pillar.

I hope this will be useful to those looking for examples; please let me know what I’ve missed.

2 thoughts on “Cultural planning in local government

  1. amanda

    Perhaps the habit of interchanging the words arts and culture in the context of policy making has become common because “the arts” may be more readily pictured and understood and therefore assist with identifying the complex nature of culture.

    1. jonhawkes

      That may be the excuse (more likely is that it’s a grab for territory by ‘the arts’); and the result is that it obscures the nature of culture by implying that it is some sort of extension of the arts. The major organs of cultural production and transmission are the education system and the mass media. I don’t think the phrase ‘arts and culture’ does anything to illuminate this – in fact the opposite.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *