Portsmouth Cultural Plan Subcommittee Reports Progress, Issues RFP for Consultant

April 21, 2023

Earlier this year the Portsmouth Arts and Nonprofits Committee formed a subcommittee tasked with creating a new Cultural Plan for the City. The last plan was adopted in 2002 and included in the 2005 Master Plan. The goal now is to complete a new plan as a foundational pillar for the 2035 Master Plan to help ensure that city leaders have a strategic roadmap that will guide support and funding policies in the coming decade.

The Arts & Nonprofits Committee co-chairs Russ Grazier and Barbara Massar selected a representational group of artists, nonprofit leaders, and longtime residents of Portsmouth to create a plan that that helps preserve and nurture the vibrant arts, culture and history scene for which Portsmouth is famous. The members of the Cultural Plan Subcommittee include: Chair, Karen Rosania, chair; John Mayer, Karen Battles, Suzanne Danforth, Jason Goodrich, Tina Sawtelle, Alan Chace, Ellen Fineberg, Gerardo Gonzales, Tom Kaufhold, Robin Lurie- Meyerkopf, Jeffrey Cooper, Amanda Kidd-Kestler, Emma Stratton, Courtney Perkins, Kate Cook, Portsmouth City Councilor; Russ Grazier and Barbara Massar, Arts & Nonprofits Committee co-chairs; and Sean Clancy, Assistant City Manager for Economic Development.

The City has just issued an RFP to identify an experienced and qualified consultant, or consultant team, “to help the subcommittee create a Cultural Plan that will serve as a blueprint for preservation and expansion of arts and cultural venues, activities, and initiatives for the foreseeable future.” Proposals are due by 10:30 am on May 5, 2023, and must be submitted via the website. The RFP reference on the City’s website is “43-23 Cultural Plan.”

The Subcommittee continues to define the scope of its work by answering these key questions:

What arts, culture and history are included?

Portsmouth has a vast array of cultural offerings, including public art, theater, music, historical sites, live performance, visual arts, and the artists who create and curate them for the public. The 2002 Cultural Plan helped Portsmouth’s arts, culture, and history organizations to flourish.

What is cultural planning and how does a Cultural Plan help Portsmouth?

Cultural planning is a process of inclusive community consultation and decision-making and in this instance is designed to help Portsmouth’s leaders identify cultural resources and think strategically about how these resources can help the community to achieve its civic goals and create a rich cultural environment for all.

Why does it matter?

For Portsmouth to remain a vibrant and compelling cultural destination, the next Cultural Plan must be built through a comprehensive, inclusive, and collaborative effort by citizens, business owners and civic leaders.

“We increase the chances of creating the community we all want to live in by agreeing on ways to sustain and nurture the arts,” commented Subcommittee chair Rosania. “This is a great opportunity for every resident of Portsmouth to have their voices heard and to play a part in creating a vision for our future. The final Cultural Plan should reflect the voices of citizens from across our community, from avid art lovers to those who simply want a say in the kind of community they’d like to live in.”

How will the community be able to engage in the cultural planning process?

The Cultural Plan Subcommittee is planning to collect feedback from arts and nonprofit venues across the city where they will host a series of community and businesses forums, listening sessions, polls, and surveys. All meetings are open to the public and posted on the City website and on the Cultural Plan page.

Go to more information or contact Sean Clancy at sclancy@cityofportsmouth.com or (603) 610-7220.