After three years of effort, the city has a new plan with a whopping 78 ideas to promote Hamilton's culture. This includes everything from free admission to museums to better managing historic items found at local construction sites.
The 68-page document, approved by the general issues committee Wednesday, includes eight goals, a dozen recommendations and 78 “action items” to promote the city’s cultural identity. Staff have been working on it since 2010.
The plan hasn’t cost taxpayers anything yet. As each idea is approved, staff will come back to council asking for money to implement it, said Anna Bradford, director of tourism and culture.
Here are five ideas the city hopes to implement as part of the new cultural plan.
1. Free admission to public museums
This idea came from London, England, where the city slashed the price of admission to its world-renowned public museums, Bradford said. When it did that, attendance shot upward. The museums recoup their money through special events and workshops. And it draws more residents, visitors and attention. “The way I look at museums, they’re not much different from schools,” Bradford said. “They’re a place of learning.”
2. More outdoor art
Having sculptures, murals and other art in the city’s parks and public spaces increases pride and aesthetics, and conveys the personality of the city. “I like to call public art the jewel of your city,” Bradford said. “It’s very uniquely Hamilton and it’s very important to us to continue being a unique city.”
3. Manage Hamilton’s archaeological artifacts
Hamilton has a wealth of artifacts handed over to the city each year, from arrowheads to pottery shards. Construction crews often come across them, Bradford said. The cultural plan includes an Archaeology Management Plan to document and preserve the items.
4. A tourism strategy
Hamilton has a tourism strategy, but it’s about five years old and needs updating, Bradford said. The new plan involves identifying key markets and how the city can get the best return on investment. “We’ve really changed the focus on who is doing what so we can ensure we’re spending taxpayers money properly and get the biggest impact back,” she said. This will include an agri-tourism strategy for rural areas, and more walking tours around the city's notable sites.
5. A cultural report card
This annual report to council will include firm numbers showing how the plan is working, Bradford said. “We can measure our vibrancy and what’s happened so we can see what’s working and what’s not working,” she said. The report card will include “good defendable statistics.”
The plan will be ratified by city council on Oct. 23.