Alexandria Cultural Plan

Page updated on Mar 16, 2018 at 2:56 PM

Arts and Culture Master Plan - Cover Small

Alexandria's Arts & Culture Master Plan

The City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts engaged Cultural Planning Group (CPG) to develop a comprehensive, citywide cultural arts plan that shall define the role of the Office of the Arts in supporting, producing, defining, and sustaining arts and culture initiatives throughout the city to accomplish the City’s broader goals. On Saturday December 17, 2016 City Council approved the Arts and Culture Master Plan as recommended by the Alexandria Commission for the Arts and the Arts and Culture Plan Steering Committee. 

You can view the plan here. You can view a text version of the plan here

The Process

This plan resulted from an extensive engagement process in which over 200 individual residents participated in a series of open houses and community meetings; more than 100 individuals participated in two town halls – one to launch the process and one to share findings and draft goals and strategies; 90-plus cultural leaders, business leaders, individual artists participated in discussion groups and in-depth interviews; and over 500 people completed an on-line survey. The appendix of this plan includes a community engagement summary.

What do we mean by arts and culture?

There are different meanings for the terms “arts” and “culture” and their meanings often change in different contexts. This plan adopts an expansive, inclusive definition of the arts and culture. It includes:

  • A range of arts, cultural and creative sectors: fine arts, as well as popular, traditional and commercial arts.
  • A range of people: visual and performing artists, craftspeople, makers, creative workers, designers, culinary artists, arts educators, cultural practitioners, avocational artists, and consumers.
  • A range of cultural events: performances, exhibitions, festivals, and celebrations.

“Culture” is most often defined in anthropological terms.1 It includes traditions, historical resources, community heritage and forms of expression valued, practiced, and preserved by a community. Culture shapes how we view the world and is integrated into all aspects of daily life. It comes alive through creativity, whether participating as an audience member, maker, creator, patron or consumer. And, importantly, when public spaces are vibrant and full of the life of a community.

Arts, culture, and creativity are among a community’s most powerful assets. They distinguish each community and allow residents to better understand and celebrate the uniqueness of their lives. Arts, culture, and creativity are a competitive tool, strengthening many elements of civic life, including the economy, workforce development, education, youth development, neighborhood development, redevelopment, sustainability, and cultural equity. An increasing body of research documents how thoughtful cultural policy is essential to civic health. Cultural planning is a primary tool for organizing the best use of this critical asset. This plan fundamentally views cultural planning as holding up a mirror to the Alexandria community and reflects the community’s diverse needs, aspirations, history and capacities.

The five core goals of the plan are:

          Goal 1: Achieve equity, inclusion and access for arts, cultural, and creative endeavors.

          Goal 2: Facilitate opportunities for innovation and collaboration.

          Goal 3: Support and foster a sustainable and diverse community of the arts.

          Goal 4: Be a convener and facilitator for artistic and cultural expression

          Goal 5: Raise community awareness of the Office of the Arts as it continues to evolve as a leadership agency.

Please contact Diane Ruggiero, Deputy Director at or 703.746.5590 with questions or comments about the Arts & Culture Master Plan.