The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford was among the cultural groups that were concerned with the city’s approach to a new Cultural Strategic Plan. (Abbotsford News file photo)

The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford was among the cultural groups that were concerned with the city’s approach to a new Cultural Strategic Plan. (Abbotsford News file photo)

Mayor says meetings with Abbotsford cultural organizations went ‘very well’

City now moves forward with draft strategy of Cultural Strategic Plan

Meetings with some key cultural groups in Abbotsford who were disgruntled with the city’s approach to a new Cultural Strategic Plan went “very well,” according to Mayor Henry Braun.

The plan is now proceeding to the third phase – the development of the draft strategy – after council agreed at its executive committee meeting on Feb. 8 to move forward with it.

The leaders of several prominent cultural organizations, including The Reach Gallery Museum and the Abbotsford Arts Council, were highly critical of the State of Culture Report delivered to council in February 2020.

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Several groups wrote to the city to object to the process and some of the findings of the report.

Among their concerns were that the report failed to stress the need for more cultural infrastructure and that the first phase had resulted in the sense that “the status quo will be maintained.”

At a council meeting in November, Braun asked that work on the new plan be paused to allow time to hear more from the cultural organizations.

At the council meeting on Feb. 8, Braun said meetings had since taken place with the leadership from The Reach, the arts council, CIVL Radio and Gallery 7 Theatre.

“All four of those meetings went very well, in my view. We talked about some challenging matters and I’m pleased to report that we cleared those up,” he said.

Braun said a second round of meetings that took place with The Reach and the Abbotsford Arts Council were “very productive” and the groups are “ready to re-engage” in the process.

“I was pleased with how it went. I know it cost us one, two, three months but I think it was worth it,” he said.

A report to council states that culture services staff are planning to reach out to groups that might not have been involved so far to get their input on the stage two report.

Staff plan to bring forward stage three – the draft strategy – in the early spring, which will be followed by a community engagement process.

The final strategy is expected to be presented in the summer.

– with files from Tyler Olsen

Abbotsford City HallCulture