New NS Culture Action Plan fair

Pictou-Advocate-opinion

To the Editor:

Sincere congratulations to the Culture Action Plan Team, the Hon. Tony Ince and the Nova Scotia Dept. of Communities, Culture and Heritage for developing this fantastic, but ambitious first ever Culture Action Plan. This 36-page downloadable document is a must read for all Nova Scotians – especially those involved in the arts, heritage, museums, libraries, archives, languages and other forms of culture explained in the plan.

The plan aims to champion the diverse membership, including performing and visual arts, writers, publishers, crafters, designers, historians, curators, painters, poets, chefs and brew masters. It has seven main themes of development: promote Mi’kmaq culture, promote creativity and innovation, strengthen education, partnerships and understanding, advance cultural diversity, excellence in cultural stewardship and drive awareness and economic growth of the culture sector.

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I read over the document numerous times and came away with several inspirational ideas; one phrase that stood out in particular was “economic driver”. The proposal states: “at the heart of this plan is the recognition that culture helps drive successful economies and communities”. The potential to help the economy of rural Nova Scotia is mapped out in the plan and we in Pictou County have an opportunity to latch onto this well thought out and inclusive approach. Within this document are many ways to connect, improve and enhance our Nova Scotia and counties economy.

Minister Ince states in his introduction: “The plan brings life to our department’s mandate of contributing to the well being and prosperity of Nova Scotia’s diverse and creative communities through promotion, development, preservation and celebration of the province’s culture, heritage, identity and language.” We are blessed with incredible creative talent and as I read this plan it seemed much has been untapped, misunderstood and unused in many parts of Nova Scotia and as stated by the grassroots people involved in action plan process. “The province needs to do a better job of supporting the culture sector and bolstering its role in a thriving province.” All portions offered in this document are very encouraging and seem to offer a sense of assurance and sustainability to help in our province’s future. If and when the ideas and “actions” presented are implemented, then we will know that the effort was worthwhile.

On the cautious side, just about every page is filled with encouraging terminology, praise for existing Nova Scotia cultural icons and well thought out “actions” but vague on the process, cost to implement and an accurate timeframe. (To be fair these items may have been presented at the launch on Feb. 22.)

Government endeavors, although not as grand as this 2017 Culture Action Plan, have been developed and presented before. Many have been announced with great fanfare, only to fade away and be “shelved”. However, if the existing government and proceeding affiliates are open to a semi-yearly progress report /review from a non partisan group, existing organization and or committee whose sole purpose would be to assist, encourage and implement this plan, then if this new strategy starts to fade away, we will have a monitor/partner that will make sure this does not happen.

All municipal governments, business and community leaders, arts and culture organizations throughout Nova Scotia should obtain a copy of this proposal and have an opportunity to consult, discuss and review its progress. The grassroots people have to be involved. Our area needs to support this now! Creative Pictou County would be an organization that could be the catalyst and binding thread to propel our creative and culture industries to work together in a fair and balanced approach for the economic sustainability and betterment of Pictou County.

Please get involved and have a look at this new Nova Scotia Culture Action Plan at www.novascotia.ca/culture and give your comments.

We have and will always need culture in our lives.

John Ashton
Ashton Creative Design
Bridgeville, Pictou County