Cultural Planning

Our goals for cultural planning

  • Essex County will be recognized as a supportive region for creative professionals.
  • Strengthen the capacity for collaboration within and between communities.
  • Foster inclusion and equity among our diverse communities.
  • Broaden the value of tangible and intangible cultural assets related to community development goals.

Our commitment

Through 2022, ECCF will invest more than $250,000 in cultural planning initiatives that create better conditions for the arts sector to thrive. ECCF is committed to investing in knowledge and technical support to engage communities in municipal planning that is inclusive of arts and culture.

If you are interested in free, local cultural planning technical assistance, please see application here.

Merrimack Valley

Place and meaning in 2020

In 2020 our Merrimack Valley cultural planning work shifted to two virtual projects. A searchable digital Cultural Focal Points map is now a permanent resource for the region's planners and policy makers. We invite you to add data to this new community asset!

And, led by the creative team at Elevated Thought, Merrimack Valley Expression Book 2020 was created as a beautiful tribute to the places, spaces, and people that make living in the Merrimack Valley meaningful, especially in this most challenging year.

See the final Summary/Report for Phase 1 of the project.

Merrimack Valley

Expression Book 2020

A tribute to the beautiful places, spaces and people that make living in the Merrimack Valley meaningful.

2019 cultural planning labs

In early 2019, the Creative County Initiative partnered with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission to develop and deliver four sub-regional cultural planning labs for municipal officials, planners, and arts leaders from the nonprofit and private sectors in Essex County.

The goal of the labs was to introduce the community benefits of cultural planning to stakeholders in Essex County. Desired outcomes included:

  • An expanded base of knowledge about the benefits of a cultural planning approach.
  • An expanded base of knowledge about cultural resources in Essex County and their importance to the livability and vitality of the region.
  • An expanded regional network of support for county-level cultural planning initiatives, which will commence in calendar year 2019.
Essex County Cultural Planning Labs report
A couple right by the Beverly and Salem bridge

Community voices

“A city as rich in cultural history as Methuen is a perfect fit for the Merrimack Valley Place and Meaning Project. I heartily encourage all Methuen residents to participate in this worthwhile effort and ensure that all aspects that make this city unique are memorialized for all to see and understand.”

- Neil Perry,
Mayor City of Methuen