Fort St. John community arts & culture framework

A long-term strategy to guide arts and culture initiatives in the Energetic City.

close up photo of an engagement event in Fort St. John. In the front, there are two sticky notes that people have written their priorities on. One says "Action". In the back, there is a blurred Fort St John logo
Residents share what they want to see from their city to support the local arts and culture scene.

Arts & culture are for everyone

Everyone should be able to participate in arts and culture in their city—whether that’s attending a play, visiting a gallery, taking an art class, or singing in a local choir group. With ambitions to cement its status as the region’s creative and cultural hub, the City of Fort St. John asked Happy Cities to guide the development of its first-ever Arts & Culture Framework. This action-oriented Framework will guide the City’s support for arts and culture events, activities, facilities, funding opportunities, and more over the next 10 years. 

Fort St. John is a growing municipality in northern British Columbia, home to many newcomers and long-time residents alike. Through deep engagement with local residents and stakeholders, Happy Cities is listening to the community’s priorities to create a Framework that reflects the needs and aspirations of everyone in Fort St. John. 

The Fort St. John creative community boasts an incredible diversity of talent—from a jampacked local art gallery and Indigenous Artist Market, to popular local theatre programs at schools, to fibre craft guilds that have outgrown their maker space, to Filipino cultural associations celebrating their longstanding history and rich local culture. The Framework seeks to build on this active and vibrant arts community, strengthen opportunities for collaboration, and build capacity among local organizations.

Happy Cities is bringing our expertise in building happier, healthier, more inclusive communities to develop an arts and culture framework unique to Fort St. John. To achieve this, we are exploring the connection between arts and culture and specific indicators of local community wellbeing—such as Indigenous representation, retention of skilled workers in Northern BC, and activation of the City’s Downtown area through public art and programming. 

Our team concluded the second round of engagement for this year-long project in March 2023, to hear the community’s thoughts on the draft Framework. Stay tuned for the final version of the Framework!

What is an arts and culture plan, anyways?

An arts and culture plan seeks to guide a city’s support and investment (through staff time and funding resources) towards arts and culture services, programs, facilities, and local initiatives. Happy Cities’ approach to developing an arts and culture plan reflects best practices by:

  • Engaging with the community to understand arts and culture priorities, identify opportunities, and garner support.
  • Determining a vision and guiding principles that align with the city’s goals and with the community’s priorities.
  • Evaluating existing assets and programs to understand potential gaps and opportunities, including constraints and opportunities to facilitate growth of arts, culture, and heritage services, programs, and facilities.
  • Assessing emerging industry trends and best practices in the delivery of arts, culture, and heritage services, programs, and facilities.
  • Researching leadership frameworks, governance models, and municipal trends to deliver arts and culture services, programs, and facilities.
  • Providing recommendations for city-specific allocation of resources toward culture policies, programs, and services.

Photo of an engagement board at a pop-up event in a Fort St John park. The board says, "Fort St John's first ever community arts & culture framework!" Below, people leave sticky notes responding to the question, "what do arts & culture mean to you?"
Local residents use sticky notes to share their thoughts on arts and culture in Fort St. John.

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