Good local government planning is directed towards goals, the desired long-term futures determined by the council and articulated in the Council Plan. A goal is defined here as: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; in this case, an intention for the desired future of residents of an LGA.
These goals should be determined as a result of community consultation and policy requirements, legislative or other. All other policies and plans of the council should respond to that document, including the Cultural Development Plan. Because the Council undertakes community consultation to determine values of the community and then sets goals to address those, cultural development planners do not need to undertake extensive consultation themselves to identify values or goals. Where consultation might need to occur is in understanding existing cultural resources and capacity in the municipality, as discussed in Action Step 2c below.
Goals should assist communities to live according to their values. They are often aspirational and therefore are likely never to be reached. For example, the goal of ‘a culturally vibrant community’ will be ongoing beyond the current planning period; a LGA can always strive to be more culturally vibrant, and cannot claim to have reached a point of absolute cultural vibrancy. Otherwise there would be nothing left to do!
However, objectives can be achieved, and need to be set to enable specific, measurable progress towards goals. Setting of objectives will be discussed in Principle 3.
Action Step 2a: Identify goals established by Council in the Council Plan.
Identify the Council’s goals from the Council Plan: what are the aspirations for the people of the LGA described in the Plan? Identifying goals can be straightforward when they are clearly articulated, but in some plans, it might be difficult to find them. If the goals in your Council Plan aren’t clear, interpret the Plan to inform your work. Look for aspirational statements, or objectives within activities. For example, to ‘build a new Community Centre to support cohesive communities’ is a clear goal of a cohesive community.
Action Step 2b: Identify the policy domains in which those goals sit
Determine the policy domain/s in which the goal/s are sited by considering which of these five domains the goal/s best fits into. This step is vitally important to enable you to articulate the difference your work will make, and to assess that change using appropriate measures. Use the domain descriptions and outcome measures listed here to help sort your councils’ goals into the appropriate domain. The best goals are those that are clearly aligned with one or other policy domain. If it is unclear which policy domain the goals are situated, you may need to break it down and choose sections of the goal. For example, if your council articulates a goal like this: ‘a prosperous and creative community’, the goal covers two policy domains, economic (prosperous) and cultural (creative). These will need to be dealt with separately in the Cultural Development Plan, as they require different types of activity and different evaluation measures.
Action Step 2c: Select which goal/s to address
Then, considering this information, make decisions about which of Council’s goals you could reasonably address in the Cultural Development Plan. The goals you select will direct all other components of your Plan. If the Council Plan includes goals in the cultural domain, these are the most obvious to consider. We recommend that you select at least one goal in the cultural domain, and then other goals or domains as appropriate for your situation. Cultural activity can potentially address goals in all of the domains. Consider the evidence and analyse your council situation in the categories including:
- human (current and potential staff, including volunteers)
- financial (how much money is available, currently or potentially)
- tangible (or hard) infra-structure – buildings, other sites, collections, etc.
- intangible (or soft) infrastructure – these include expertise of your staff or others in your Council or the community, such as arts organisations, universities, etc.; relationships (partnerships, networks or other relationships) that you could make use of).
It is at this point you might consider a mapping exercise to determine the resources available in within your council and your community for cultural activity. This might include a consultation phase where resources available are also considered.
Your situational analysis might help you become aware of initiatives in the Community Development Department towards the same goal. While those staff members have good networks with diverse communities in the municipality, they may not have the skill in shaping and leading activities that engage those people in Council’s activities. Together the two departments might be able to combine forces and create Collective Impact (a structured and disciplined approach to bringing cross-sector organisations together to focus on a common agenda that results in long-lasting change).
Action Step 2d: Decide on how many goals to address
Of all the possibilities open to you, you will need to decide on how many of these goals you could reasonably address, considering the timeframe and available resources. Given that each goal needs to have specific objectives allocated to it and each of these needs to have evidence to inform its selection and an appropriate evaluation process, you are best to be circumspect in your ambitions. It is better to undertake a smaller number of initiatives directly related to the Council Plan, for which you have a clearly articulated objective, supported by evidence and a proper evaluation plan that measures the difference it makes, than a lot of activities for which you do not know what difference they make. Your situational analysis will give you ideas about the appropriate scope and options for action.