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September 18, 2018

Planning for Culture in Brampton

Planning for Culture in Brampton
What is culture? How do you describe it? Furthermore, how do you plan for it?

Defining what “culture” means can be challenging – especially in a city like Brampton, with 234 distinct ethnic backgrounds and 115 languages at play, and growth fuelled by 14,000 newcomers each year. This challenge was apparent right at the outset of the City of Brampton’s Culture Master Plan initiative.
Through extensive community engagement, including input from more than 3,500 residents, we realized that for many people, “culture” is their language, traditions and belief systems. However, our goal was to focus on the expression of those concepts through the creative forms of art, heritage and lifestyle. The Culture Master Plan had to find ways to break down barriers, and foster an animated and vibrant environment appealing to a diverse community, supporting local artists, crafters and creators of every stripe.
To support this grand undertaking, we engaged an outside consulting team, Lord Cultural Resources and Nordicity, and together we researched, envisioned, strategized and planned next steps for implementation.

We understood that for the Plan to be successful, it needed to be rooted in solid research. Some findings were derived from consultant expertise, and additional community insights came from Brampton guiding documents like The State of Culture Report and the newly-endorsed Vision 2040: Living the Mosaic report. Building on these insights, a key part of the process was talking to citizens to find out what they really want.
Brampton-image-2.jpegWe developed a team to go out and talk to people, occasionally with translators so that anyone who wanted to provide input would be heard. We discovered a community that was excited to participate; no matter where they were from, everyone wanted to live in a place that cares about developing a well-rounded social scene. Key findings from arts and culture stakeholder groups included a need for dedicated arts and culture grant funding, spaces to create and perform, and a need for connectivity between arts practitioners and the public.
Our vision had to be unique and aspirational, driving us toward the bold future our community expects. We included the concept that culture would be led by the creative community and supported by the public and private sectors, and that Brampton will be a place where experimentation is welcomed, thereby attracting new ideas.
Innovation is a language that, over the next 10 years, will bridge all cultures. It is the language of our vision. It fuels guiding themes, goals and strategies, which support the vision by enabling diverse artists to develop their talent, and by providing funding and space for creative activity to flourish.
This Plan comes at an exciting time in Brampton, as we prepare to host a new university and undertake Brampton-image-1.jpgsignificant urban redesign. It is essential that the cultural lens be present during every discussion about community building, from rates and fees for existing municipal space, to the reimagining of streetscapes and zoning.
The Culture Master Plan sets the practical framework for enabling expression through music, food, theatre, art and literature. It envisions a community where creativity leverages and transcends differences, and where diversity imbues expression, drives fusion and experimentation, ultimately giving rise to a local identity that is uniquely and unabashedly Brampton.

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author(s), and may not reflect the position of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

Post by Victoria Mountain, Manager, Culture and Pamela Keywan, Administrator, Culture, City of Brampton

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