A Cultural Plan for the City of Worcester, Massachusetts


City of Worcester Announces Completion of First Comprehensive Cultural Plan 

Plan promotes a shared vision to recognize the power of culture and make communities better places for people to live, learn, work and thrive

  View the full Cultural Plan              View the Executive Summary  

Worcester City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 to adopt item 11B which was a recommendation by the City Manager’s office to adopt to the first ever cultural plan for the City of Worcester. The City, the Worcester Cultural Coalition, and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation will all take the next steps in executing the plan.

The City of Worcester, in partnership with Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Worcester Cultural Coalition, is pleased to announce the completion of the City of Worcester Cultural Plan, “Becoming Worcester: The Evolution of a Creative City.”

A year in the making, the Cultural Plan is a foundational document for municipal cultural planning and service delivery in Worcester. The plan is primarily funded by the Barr Foundation through its Creative Commonwealth Initiative, the Worcester Cultural Coalition, and is a fulfillment of the City’s cultural compact with the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which was designed to “promote a shared vision for cities and towns to recognize the power of culture and make communities better places for people to live, work and thrive.”

“The Worcester Cultural Plan is unique in that it is embedded in the City’s Masterplan,” noted City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “Arts and culture are catalysts for creative economic development, embedding art into our streetscapes and design, lifting up our rich immigrant experiences and shining a spotlight on all we offer, knowing that great cities embrace arts and culture.”

While the plan lays out 90 strategies over 10 years, 20 strategic priorities were identified as actionable for 2020 by the City, GWCF, and the Worcester Cultural Coalition. Priorities include shaping cohesive branding and imaging for the “Worcester Story”; engaging “9-to-5ers” in the downtown area through increased offerings and activities; and designing and launching an in-artist residence program to incorporate creative design on the front-end of projects in municipal government, business, and neighborhoods.

“This plan will enable Worcester to take full advantage of the opportunities for quality of life and economic development that a robust arts, culture and creative sector can bring,” said Ann T. Lisi, CEO and President of Greater Worcester Community Foundation. “Providing a clear strategy regarding our cultural resources, we hope this plan can be a model for others in the Commonwealth to take action in strengthening the arts and culture presence in their communities.”

The Worcester Cultural Plan involved months of community engagement with citizens, organizations, businesses, and others. Hundreds of individuals participated in forums, discussions, and surveys to develop the plan. Facilitation was provided by a consultant team led by Tom Borrup of Creative Community Builders, specialists in cultural development. An advisory team managed the process and has formed cross-sector working groups to oversee implementation, measure progress, identify resources, and inform modifications.

“Arts and culture brings our city to life, helps us vision and experience the world in new ways, provides healing and gives voice to all. That is why the time is right for a new Cultural Plan which embraces the arts as not just nice, but necessary for Worcester to thrive and evolve into a truly creative city,” noted Erin Williams, Cultural Development Officer for the City of Worcester.

The Cultural Plan was shared with City Council officials on June 25, 2019.

View the full Cultural Plan          View the Executive Summary

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