Create a cultural development plan

Our planning framework assists you to create a Cultural Development Plan.

A cultural development plan developed using our framework plans for rich, vibrant cultures in your communities of interest, using an evidence based, outcome focused approach.

A Planning Framework Based on 6 principles

Our Planning Framework recommends a planning process that is consistent and therefore can be integrated with other planning activity. It is underpinned by six key principles:

  1. Based on values

    The plan responds to the collective values of the community of interest that is served by the organisation.

  2. Directed towards goals

    The plan is directed towards goals, the desired long-term futures determined by the governing body or articulated in any strategy the organisation is aligned to.

  3. Focussed on outcomes

    The plan is focussed on outcomes, that is, the difference our work will make to those we are responsible to serve, rather than the activity undertaken to get there. Measurable outcomes help us determine whether objectives were met. Intended outcomes (objectives) are set to enable specific measurable achievement towards the goals.

  4. Informed by evidence

    The plan involves decisions informed by evidence. This includes practice knowledge, published research or data that provides information about the local context, the issue being addressed and possible ways to address it

  5. Underpinned by a theory of change 

    The plan uses a program logic to assist and explain choices of activities. This theory of change is the reason why we do what we do. It can be represented by this short mnemonic:
    we are aiming for (an outcome)… and knowing (evidence)… , we will do (some things)… ‘types of activities’

  6. Respondent to evaluation

    The plan includes evaluation consistently as part of the normal work process. Evaluation findings are used to inform future decision-making.

The framework does not direct or specify activities that organisations should be involved in, but only the process of deciding what these activities should be, based on goals of the organisation, the evidence base, community needs and available resources.

A Consistent Approach

Our planning framework enables a consistent approach and terminology for cultural development professionals across  Australia. It is intended to contribute to more effective practice in cultural development planning, and in so doing, to assist managers to achieve better outcomes for their communities.


Our framework is written in the context of key international and national policy agendas, particularly the United Cities and Local Government Committee for Culture’s Policy Statement on Culture. It is informed by contemporary approaches to planning and governance, and draws from ideas about evidence based-planning that many organisations already use.

Policy Domains for Local Government Planning

This Framework recognises five public policy domains: Cultural, Social, Economic, Governance and Environmental.  All goals and related activity can be considered within these domains, and together they enable the desired endpoint of flourishing and fulfilled individuals.

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Where does your plan fit into your organisation?

The cultural plan connects with the constitution, the founding document, and annual business plan, project plans and individual work plans.


When should plans be written & who should write them?

We recommend that Cultural Development Plans are created and executed in synch with the regular planning cycle for the LGA, for the most effective work and greatest chance of integration with the activities of other areas of council. This will ensure that activities of Cultural Development departments are better valued, understood and prioritised equally with other areas of activity. We also recommend that celebrations be made at the end cycle of the Plan, when objectives have been achieved, rather than the beginning when the Plan is launched, as is often the case.

We recommend that council staff write their own plans, and use consultants, where necessary, only for specialist skills and advice.


How long should plans be?

We suggest that plans developed using this Framework need not be overly long or complex. A small team should be able to shape up a Plan over a few meetings with some research and preparation undertaken between times. Some Plans for small departments might only be a few pages long. We recommend that the maximum effort goes into the thinking and research, and minimum effort be given to design and illustration of the Plan. The Plan is a tool for the direction for staff, not an endpoint in itself.

How the framework is being developed?

The Framework was first conceptualised in response to needs identified in a survey of Victorian councils’ cultural development plans, undertaken by CDN in 2013 (Dunphy, Metzke & Tavelli, 2013). This revealed that councils across Victoria were increasingly developing cultural plans, but there was a lack of an agreed framework and informing principles between them. The need for more connection between cultural plans and other strategic council documents, particularly council plans, was identified. The research also demonstrated the need for: more systematic use of data and evidence; a greater focus on outcomes, rather than inputs and activities; more cohesive theories of change; and stronger evaluation practices.


Ready to start writing your plan?

Our step by step guide will guide you through the process.



Let’s get started