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In 1988 Councils for the City and District of North Vancouver, together with the District of West Vancouver, adopted the first Cultural Plan for the North Shore. The Plan offered a decision-making framework of guiding principles and policy objectives to shape how cultural planning should happen. And, the North Shore Arts Commission was formed to serve as an arms-length agency for the three municipalities, specifically as the regional delivery agency for the Cultural Plan.

Looking back with the full benefit of hindsight, although the 1988 plan realized a number of successes in local terms and while it still informs some of the “big picture” thinking around arts and cultural needs for the North Shore in a general sense, the coordination of planning priorities and support services across all three North Shore municipalities proved problematic and the list of recommended strategies too broad to implement successfully. In 1996, while a number of the recommendations remained valid, West Vancouver pulled out of the tri-municipal agreement.

In the late 1990’s, with West Vancouver no longer at the table, the Arts Commission re-structured as a bi-municipal agency (the Arts & Culture Commission of North Vancouver), and began work on a second Cultural Plan—focussed this time only on the City and District of North Vancouver.

Finally, in 2002—following an extended planning and consultation process—the City and District adopted the North Vancouver Cultural Plan. Phase One of the 2002 plan (Goals and Strategies) articulated for the first time a vision for North Vancouver as a community that understands and values the arts and cultural activities; it also proposed a detailed collection of strategic directions, outcomes and priority actions intended to realize the vision. In an attempt to address some of the implementation issues that had undermined the 1988 plan, Phase Two of the 2002 Plan provided a detailed Delivery & Management Plan.

In May 2007 following an extensive period of research and community consultation, both the District and City Councils voted to establish The North Vancouver Office of Cultural Affairs in order to consolidate all arts and culture services previously offered by the District, the City, and the old Arts and Culture Commission. In 2010, the name was changed to The Arts Office.

Acting as a bi-municipal agency of the City and District, the Arts Office continued to provide integrated support programs, advocacy and cultural development services to the creative and cultural communities of North Vancouver (including—where appropriate—to the broader North Shore), as well as coordinated policy and planning capacities for the two ‘parent’ municipalities.

The Arts Office provided a single point of entry for arts funding and cultural development services for the City and the District. Advantages of the bi-municipal model include improved coordination of policy and planning functions, more efficient coordination of municipal resources, more responsive service to arts groups, and a strengthened role of the North Vancouver arts community.

In June 2014, the City and District of North Vancouver announced the consolidation of the Arts Office and the North Vancouver Recreation Commission into the new North Vancouver Recreation & Culture Commission (NVRC). The consolidation brought together municipal cultural expertise under one umbrella organization to enhance arts and cultural programming and services in North Vancouver and achieve efficiencies in service delivery.

The North Vancouver Recreation Commission's role on behalf of the City and District of North Vancouver included the provision of recreation and arts programs, cultural events and the operation of Centennial Theatre. The Arts Office on behalf of the City and District of North Vancouver managed public art and grants programs, assisted City and District departments in cultural planning, promoted arts and culture and provided support to many local arts organizations. The consolidation of these two bi-municipal entities came after extensive review of the benefits and opportunities of merging the two organizations.