Preparing to write your plan

This page offers recommendations for the preparation stages of plan development. It discusses how the schema of Cultural Development Plan fits together with the Community Plan, the Council Plan, the Annual Business Plan, Project Plans and individual Work Plans; when Cultural Development Plans should be written and who they should be written by.


Hierarchy of plans

Community Plan

Some communities have a strategic document that sits above the Council Plan, setting out the desired future for the whole community in that location. Local government contributes as a major player, along with State government, non-government agencies and other bodies. 

Council Plan
This document sets the overall direction of the local government authority. It should underpin the development of all other strategic documents of the organisation.

Cultural Development Plan
This document sets the overall strategic direction for the Cultural Development team. It should respond to the desired future for the community set out in the Council Plan, and match the time period of the Council Plan. Therefore, this plan needs to be high level and strategic, without too much specific detail.

Annual Business Plan
The longer term Cultural Development Plan should be supported by Annual Business Plans that provide more detail for directing staff activity. Details about activities can then be included, given that information about available resources and other influencing factors is more likely to be available.

Project Plans
In turn, annual Business Plans can be used to inform the development of individual Project Plans. Each project should also be planned using similar principles as recommended for the CD Plan: particularly an evidence-based, outcome-focussed approach. This will help make cultural development practice more effective in addressing councils’ goals. By learning about what has gone before and thinking about where we are trying to go, rather than only focussing on what we will do to get there, we have a greater chance of success. CDN’s on-line project building and recording tool ZAPs will facilitate effective project planning, and enable sharing of expertise across the sector and the country.

Work Plans
All of these documents in turn inform the writing of Work Plans for individual staff members. These should all be linked so that each staff member has a work plan that enables their efforts to be integrated and contributing to an overall outcome for the team.


When should plans be written?

We recommend that Cultural Development Plans are created and executed in synch with the regular planning cycle for the LGA, for the most effective work and greatest chance of integration with the activities of other areas of council. This will ensure that activities of Cultural Development departments are better valued, understood and prioritised equally with other areas of activity. We also recommend that celebrations be made at the end cycle of the Plan, when objectives have been achieved, rather than the beginning when the Plan is launched, as is often the case. See more.


Who should write Cultural Development Plans?

In offering a developed framework for planning, CDN provides council staff with the resources needed to create their own plans. This means that we recommend that council staff write their own plans, and use consultants, where necessary, only for specialist skills and advice. See more.


How long should plans be?

We suggest that plans developed using this Framework need not be overly long or complex. A small team should be able to shape up a Plan over a few meetings with some research and preparation undertaken between times. Some Plans for small departments might only be a few pages long. We recommend that the maximum effort goes into the thinking and research, and minimum effort be given to design and illustration  of the Plan. The Plan is a tool for the direction for staff, not an endpoint in itself.

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