Culture | Shift Arts and Culture Plan

New 10-Year Plan places Arts, Culture, and Equity at the centre of Vancouver city-building 


Vancouver City Council adopted a new 10-year cultural plan that significantly enhances City support for the city’s vibrant artistic community. Entitled Culture Shift: Blanketing the City in Arts and Culture, the plan addresses critical challenges and opportunities and provides a strategic framework including directions actions.  A music strategy addresses challenges specific to the music commuty and creates a Music Task Force to advance the strategy.

Developed with input from the city’s diverse communities First Nations, and 3,000 citizens, the plan outlines five strategic directions:

  1. Place arts and culture at the centre of city-building strategy and investment;
  2. Recognize and support Indigenous cultural knowledge and presence through decolonizing practices;
  3. Advance cultural equity and accessibility;
  4. Prevent displacement by enabling affordable, accessible and secure spaces; and,
  5. Strengthen the resilience of the sector through facilitating partnerships and leveraging investment. Implementation of the plan is funded through a budget increase of $3.2 million for new investments. 


In addition to its focus on reconciliation, cultural equity and accessibility, the new arts and culture plan is intended to hard-wire arts and culture priorities in all the City’s city-building work, including all departments’ strategies and investments. Acknowledging arts and culture as a city’s lifeblood, the process for developing the plan responded to community concerns about formulaic of cultural planning that leads to increased gentrification and displaces local people business and organization, without addressing how discrimination is built into methods of cultural support. The new plan took contemporary approaches in its engagement to include not only diverse groups but also under-represented communities. Boldly, the plan “embraces communities’ push for inclusion of more complicated narratives that leave room for generative forms of critique and failure, and ways to harness urban development to root existing local culture, people, and cultural assets in a place.”


Although Vancouver is home to world-renowned artists and and local art centres that reflect diverse cultural traditions, with a growing cultural economy and music scene and an exceptional Indigenous cultural resurgence, there is low awareness of this rich undercurrenet of creativity and cultural production. The sector is under serious threat from accelerating urban development and displacement, and from increasing income inequality that particularly impacts artists, 60% of whom live below the poverty line. Global cities have embraced culture as the fourth pillar of sustainability, recognizing that cultural vitality is critical to economic prosperity for the economy as a whole because it fosters a more adaptable and experimental entrepreneurial environment in which dynamic and original products and opportunities can arise. The new plan, Culture Shift, bulds on the foundation of the 2008-2018 Culture Plan, the findings of the 2018 Creative City Strategy, and the 2018 Cultural Infrastructure Plan which sets out to secure, enhance and development affordable and accessible arts and cultural spaces, and aims to produce and/or protect 800,000 square feet of cultural space in the next decade.


City of Vancouver web page:

Staff report:

Staff presentation slides:

Culture|Shift includes recommendations and actions from the following reports:

Prepared by: Elizabeth Ballantyne, VCPC Chronology Committee
Last Revised: Tuesday, December 3, 2019