Planning Terms used in our Frameworks

These definitions are provided to help you to use our frameworks and to encourage consistency across the sector. We have observed that in strategic planning are often diverse terms used for similar activities with some terms being used interchangeably within a system while in other contexts the meaning may be opposite. For example, what our framework identifies as goal can be described as mission, strategic objectives, priorities, themes, key principles. We have also observed that outcomes are often confused with outputs.

Our frameworks utilise clearly defined terms which are summarised below. We encourage you to use the definitions provided in your planning and across your team to facilitate consistency within your organisation and with other cultural development planners.

More detail about each of these terms is available on specific pages.

Values: the principles and beliefs of the community which they care about for their lives and desired future. The collective values of the community should influence all planning and will be reflected in the goals.

Goal: the desired long-term future: the focus toward which all effort is directed. The goal is aspirational and may never be fully achieved. For example, we may have a goal of ‘a culturally rich and vibrant community.’ While we may make progress toward this goal, we are unlikely to ever get to a point where we believe we have reached the maximum ‘cultural richness and vibrancy.’

Objectives: the intended outcome: a specific result that is aimed to be achieved within a timeframe and available resources. In this case, the specific result the council or organisation seeks to achieve that contributes to attaining its goal. As the objective is specific and timely, it can be both achieved and measured.

Evidence: practice knowledge, published research or data that provides information on the situation at present, activities and processes that are most relevant to achieving the objective, the resources that are available to use. This includes the operating environment, external factors and available resources.

Theory of change: often thought of as the ‘pitch’ or logic map for an activity. It is the process where the objective (intended outcome) is linked to the most salient pieces of evidence gathered that leads to the identification of the most appropriate activity. The Framework uses a simple mnemonic to guide this process: We are looking for Objective (Intended outcome)….. and knowing what we have learnt (evidence)….. therefore, we will do this activity.

Inputs: resources identified and available/used to produce cultural development activity. The CDN Schema categorises Inputs in three areas: Infrastructure, Financial Resources and Human Resources.

Outputs: what is produced across arts, libraries, heritage. Exhibitions, performances, collections, contracts to artists, festivals, new works, gatherings, public talks etc.

Activity (outputs): the program or project that is undertaken in order to achieve the objective/intended outcome.

Outcome: we define outcomes as the consequences directly attributable to the program and are usually measured at, or shortly after completion. Ideally these match objectives (thus they are intended outcomes), i.e. we achieve what we set out to achieve.

Evaluation: the process of assessing what has occurred as a result of activity. Evaluation should focus on whether the objective (intended outcome) has been achieved and to what extent.

Impact: the longer-term consequences directly attributable, at least in part, to the program or project. This should be kept in of the objectives will contribute to addressing the goal beyond the life of one activity.

Public Policy: a set of ideas, plans and actions agree to by a designated authority (federal, state, local) that affect the people of the country, state or LGA. The goal of public policy is ‘public good.’

Policy Domain: Areas of public policy. The CDN Schema recognises five domains of public policy (cultural, social, environmental, economic and governance) in which all goals can sit within or in combination. The identification of policy domains that are associated to the goals, informs what measurable outcomes to use.

Culture as a policy domain: recognising culture as a domain of public policy, and the role that it plays in conjunction with society, economy, governance and the environment, is essential to evaluating cultural outcomes. CDN’s founding philosophy is underpinned by the 2001 published monograph “The Fourth Pillar of Sustainability: culture’s essential role in public planning” Hawkes, (2001).


Definitions of broader concepts and sector can be found here.