Process Overview

Living a Creative Life is an arts development strategy for Calgary, by Calgarians. Over 1,000 voices helped create this strategy over a rigorous, nearly two-year consultation process. Interested citizens from many backgrounds, community groups, educators, civic and provincial partners, arts administrators from organizations of all sizes, and independent artists of all disciplines contributed to the vision and goals outlined in the Strategy Framework and Focus Areas section.

Calgarians will continue to enact the strategy and move us all closer to its overarching vision. Living a Creative Life is building on the momentum of decades of artistic strength in our city, and outlines a path for Calgarians to collectively create an even more vital future for our city.

Consultation (April 2012 – December 2013)

The Arts Plan consultation process took place over several stages.

Spring 2012: Dialogue Series

This phase included an analysis of data already gathered by Calgary Arts Development through granting programs and previous surveys; an update of 2007 research into venues and other supporting infrastructure (as part of an Art Space Research Consortium); and a dialogue series with artists, arts administrators and board members to get a firsthand perspective on the experience of working in the arts in Calgary.

Fall 2012: Citizens’ Reference Panel

This phase was launched to widen the conversation and engage a representative cohort of Calgarians in a discussion about the significance of the arts to Calgary’s future.

Overseen by citizen engagement experts MASS LBP and with support from Calgary 2012, Calgary Arts Development established Calgary’s first Citizens’ Reference Panel. The Panel comprised 36 Calgary residents who volunteered from among the 5,000 Calgary households randomly selected to receive an invitation to participate on the Panel. The Panel was evenly split between genders and was broadly representative of Calgary’s age demographic and four geographic quadrants.

The Panel met over four Saturdays in September and October 2012 to learn about Calgary’s arts sector and work together to determine the priorities and vision that would guide the creation of a long-term arts development strategy for Calgary. The 36 panelists heard from a wide range of experts, policymakers and artists. They worked in small, facilitated group sessions to learn about the arts sector in Calgary and how it contributes to the city’s quality of life. Ultimately, the Panel produced and ratified a set of recommendations as well as a vision for future arts development and investment. Their recommendations have been integrated into the strategy outlined in the Strategy Framework and Focus Areas section.

For a full description of the Citizens’ Reference Panel process, as well as their recommendations, please see The Citizens’ Reference Panel Report on Calgary’s Arts Plan.

Winter & Spring 2012/2013: Summits and Open Houses

From December 2012 until May 2013, interested Calgarians convened in a variety of settings to establish a shared vision for the arts and their goals for a thriving arts ecosystem in Calgary. This phase of the process included three summits (one held in partnership with the Calgary Board of Education specifically on the topic of youth and education), six discipline-specific meetings, and a variety of open houses and community meetings held throughout the city.

Other elements that informed the development of the strategy at this stage in the process included six external critiques of the process: three each from Toronto-based dancer and Metcalf Arts Policy Fellow Shannon Litzenberger, and from arts policy expert Ian David Moss, Research Director at Fractured Atlas. A series of 21 visionary articles from a variety of Calgarians also offered multiple perspectives on how Calgary can reach its full potential.

June 5, 2013: Update on Living a Creative Life

On June 5, 2013, Calgary Arts Development presented an update on Living a Creative Life to the Standing Policy Committee on Community and Protective Services of The City of Calgary. This update was the first presentation of the five major focus areas that are found in the final strategy (now titled Creative Communities, Centre City Arts District, Arts Incubation, Artistic Exchange, and Youth & Education). Over 300 supporters of Calgary’s arts community attended in person, overflowing Council Chambers.

Finalizing the Strategy

In the fall of 2013, stakeholder groups convened twice around each focus area to give further feedback on the structure of the strategy, including its visions, outcomes, drivers and tactics.

Engaging Stakeholders

Once the strategy framework was solidified in January 2014, Calgary Arts Development sought formal support for the strategy from the many individuals and organizations who took part in buildingLiving a Creative Life. There are two levels of support:

  • Endorsers are individuals or organizations that endorse the overall vision and focus areas of Living a Creative Life and believe that the arts contribute to a Calgary they want to live in. Endorsers make no formal commitment to the strategy other than personally striving to live a creative life and encouraging other Calgarians to do the same.
  • Signatories are groups or organizations that will contribute to one or more tactics outlined in Living a Creative Life and agree to consider the strategy’s overall framework during their own strategic planning. Signatories will also participate in shared measurement activities so that progress towards the strategy’s goals can be tracked. Signatories will sign a document that outlines these commitments. (Note: signatories are also considered to be Living a Creative Life endorsers.)

Those who believe in the vision presented in Living a Creative Life are encouraged to become endorsers. Signatories are also welcome to contact Calgary Arts Development to pledge a greater level of support.

Tactical Plans

This strategy presents a framework of outcomes, drivers and success indicators for each focus area. Specific tactics and progress measurements will be detailed in separate tactical plans, which will be a primary tool for accomplishing the goals of Living a Creative Life. Signatories who are aligning their activities to the strategy will dictate which goals will be undertaken first.

Tactical plans will include:

  • Tactics that contribute to achieving the goals of each focus area.
  • A list of signatories who have committed to aligning with some or all of the strategy’s focus areas.
  • A summary of the work currently being undertaken in support of each focus area and the activities of relevant signatories.
  • Success indicators for each focus area.
  • Measurements of progress in each focus area, as data is collected by Calgary Arts Development in collaboration with Living a Creative Life signatories.

Calgary Arts Development will be responsible for updating these plans and reporting back on Living a Creative Life progress annually, as well as continuing to engage signatories with the strategy and its focus areas.

Read the March 2014 Tactical Plan here

Learn more about endorsing or becoming a signatory to Living a Creative Life