Mobilizing Cultural Plans Into Action: Join the Discussion! #MCdigital


(Liz Forsberg) #1

Friday February 1st we co-hosted Mass Culture’s first-ever Digital Gathering. If you weren’t able to join us for this conversation live, you can now watch the recording here!

The Conversation Starters:
Sanjay Shahani (Edmonton Arts Council), Branislav Henselmann (City of Vancouver) and Pat Tobin (City of Toronto) spoke to their own experiences of mobilizing cultural plans into action. The panel was moderated by Bridget McIntosh (Hamilton). Bios can be found below.

The discussion continues here on the Knowledge Centre using the tag #MCdigital

About the Conversation Starters:


Sanjay Shahani

Executive Director, Edmonton Arts Council

Sanjay Shahani has worked in the arts for more than 25 years. He has produced documentaries such as Don’t Pity Me, Jaromír Skřivánek, and the series Different, Yet the Same: A Look at Canadian Cultures Today. As a volunteer, Sanjay has contributed to the growth and development of arts organizations and was the founding Chair of the Prismatic Arts Festival in Halifax. Last October, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees at the National Arts Centre.

Most recently, Sanjay was the Strategy Lead at the Ontario Trillium Foundation, designing the Foundation’s arts and culture investment strategy. Before being appointed to lead the Foundation’s strategy, he oversaw province-wide granting to the sector. Prior to joining the foundation, Sanjay was a Theatre Officer at the Canada Council for the Arts and Community and Multidisciplinary Arts Officer at the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). At the OAC he developed the Multi-Arts Projects program in response to the intercultural creative expression by artists and arts organizations from culturally-diverse and Indigenous communities.

He is currently the Executive Director of the Edmonton Arts Council (EAC). Just over 17 months ago, Edmonton City Council charged the EAC to develop the next ten-year cultural plan for City. Sanjay led the EAC’s partnership with the Edmonton Heritage Council and Arts Habitat Edmonton, engaged a consortium of consultants and oversaw the building of Connections & Exchanges: A 10-Year Plan To Transform Arts and Heritage In Edmonton. Connections & Exchanges was approved by Edmonton City Council in October 2018. In November, Edmonton City Council approved the EAC’s 4-Year Operating Budget (2019 – 2022), which included increased funds to implement the first phase of Connections & Exchanges.

Sanjay has also done scholarly work in cultural anthropology and education, and taught at post-secondary institutions in North America.


Branislav Henselmann

Managing Director of Cultural Services, City of Vancouver

Prior to his appointment as Managing Director of Cultural Services for the City of Vancouver, Branislav served as Executive Director of Ballet BC, overseeing the company’s transformation and expansion to national and international stages. Previously, as the Executive Producer for the Michael Clark Company in London, Branislav produced and toured a number of high profile theatrical works and museum commissions world-wide. As Head of Programming and Learning for DanceEast, a national dance organization overseeing dance development and artistic programming in the East of England, and the Artistic Curator for New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute, Branislav led a wide range of initiatives to promote the development of emerging choreographers involved in new classical choreography.

Originally trained as a dancer in Munich, Branislav later deepened his studies at the conservatory level at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University, is a DAAD German Academic Exchange Fellow and a New York University Dean’s Fellow. He formerly served on the Board of Canadian Dance Assembly as the Chair of Ballet Companies Standing Council and has been recognized as one of Business in Vancouver’s Forty under 40. He currently serves on Vancouver Foundation’s Board of Directors.

The City of Vancouver’s latest cultural plans are available here:


Patrick Tobin

Director, Arts and Culture Services, City of Toronto

Patrick Tobin was appointed Director of Arts and Culture Services for the City of Toronto in February 2017. Pat joined the City following an 18-year career with the federal public service, most recently as Director General for Innovation and Community Development at the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Pat’s other experience federally included executive roles in communications, policy and program delivery for Canadian Heritage in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.


Bridget MacIntosh

Arts & Culture Consultant

An award-winning arts consultant, Bridget’s work blends her love of culture and cities together. She has held numerous senior arts and culture policy and programming management positions with the cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Hamilton. She is the past Producer of the Toronto Fringe Festival, founding Artistic Producer of the Fringe’s Next Stage Theatre Festival and currently serves as the Vice-President of Festivals & Events Ontario. Her advocacy and city building work includes the Canadian Arts Coalition Research & Policy Committee focusing on Creative Canada / cultural diplomacy and international trade initiatives, Project for Public Spaces’ International Placemaking Leadership Council, board work with the Festival of Live Digital Art (SWS Performance) and management work with major events such as Nuit Blanche (Toronto). She has been named a Top 40 Under 40 Hamilton Business Leader and was the only Canadian selected as a 2018 NextCity Vanguard Fellow.

(Liz Forsberg) #3

Today’s @MassCulture #MCdigital webinar was a really invigorating conversation on mobilizing cultural plans. So many great examples of the way Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto have approached this.

Does your city/town have a cultural plan?
What were your guiding principles?
How are those principles being being put into action as your cultural plan is being mobilized?
What issues have you encountered?
Were artists involved in the creation of the plan?

We would love to hear from you!

(Liz Forsberg) #4

One of the great cultural planning resources to emerge in the #mcdigital discussion came about when Judith Marcuse of ICASC shared a link to a cultural plan she had worked on for Vancouver’s West End in 2015. One of the important things that distinguishes this plan from many others is that it used the arts to engage the public in the creation of the plan. As someone who believes that process is equally important as the final product, using the arts in the creation of a cultural plan re-affirms the importance the arts play in daily life. Thanks Judith for sharing the plan in the chat box! For those who missed it, you’ll find it here: WE Arts: A Vision for Arts & Culture in Vancouver’s West End

(Adair) #5

Sorry to have missed this discussion. I was fortunate enough to be a member of the team working and developing the City of Edmonton’s 10 year arts and heritage plan. Sanjay brought great vision to the process. Our work was informed by this to explore further what we term as “2nd generation” culture planning. We are testing new methodologies and ways of doing this with the Town of Canmore AB.

(Liz Forsberg) #6

Hi @Annalee, thanks for chiming in. I would love to hear more about how you approached 2nd generation culture planning and I’m sure @bridgetannmac would too!

Also, if you’d like to hear a recording of the discussion it will be up the resources page of the Knowledge Centre any day now. Stay tuned…

(Bridget MacIntosh) #7

Hi @Annalee, yes, thanks for sharing. Would love to hear more about your process in Canmore. Are there links you can share?

(Bridget MacIntosh) #8

Hi @LForsberg - another great cultural planning read s the recent report from the UK published by Core Cities, London Councils, Key Cities and Ace National.

Cultural Cities Enquiry Report