Portimão´s Strategic Plan

The Community is contributing to Portimão’s new strategic cultural plan in the year of the city´s centenary.

On 28 June, the small auditorium of the Teatro Municipal de Portimão hosted the first public event relating to the Portimão 2034 Strategic Culture Plan, an assembly for proposals addressed to the municipality’s cultural, sporting, economic, academic, and political communities and to all those who wish to contribute to the project.

In justifying the plan, Teresa Mendes, the councillor responsible for culture at the Town Hall, recalled that the process began in the first days of March 2020, but was soon interrupted by the pandemic, which implied other priorities, so “it is only today that we are able to hold this first meeting, laying the foundations for a cultural strategy that will have at least ten years of action and whose development will be phased, with the aim of stimulating the participation of the community, especially the protagonists of the cultural fabric of this territory.”

“The Municipality wants the people of Portimão to be involved in the participatory process of drawing up this important tool that will look to the future through an innovative methodology, certified and promoted by the Centre for Communication and Society Studies at the University of Minho, which includes a model dedicated specifically to municipal cultural policies.”

According to the Mayor, “At this stage, what we want to do is draw up a transdisciplinary and participatory diagnosis and create a permanent local team, which will be team zero, for the constitution of our future Municipal Council for Culture and the Citizen’s Laboratory, which will take place in the second phase of this process.”

At the end of her speech, Teresa Mendes reaffirmed that, for the municipality, “culture has the power to unite, inspire and transform: that’s what we want for Portimão and, together, we’re going to make a difference.”

A plan for everyone

Addressing the audience, Professor Manuel Gama began by emphasizing that the Municipal Strategic Plan for Culture Portimão 2034 “is not designed by the University of Minho, nor by the City Council, it’s yours.

“It was identified that around 85 per cent of Portuguese municipalities did not have municipal strategic plans for culture, and many of those that do they don’t actually use them as instruments to help the executive power to implement policies,” said the professor, before pointing out that “a strategic plan is not a plan of activities; it’s a medium- and long-term plan, in which we don’t think about tomorrow, we think about ten years from now.”

Plan from everyone and for everyone

“The methodology we designed has four stages: transdisciplinary diagnosis, citizen laboratory, governance and citizen participation. The work we do takes place over the course of a year, so what we’ll be working on until June 2025 are the first two phases because the rest represents the implementation of the plan,” explained Manuel Gama, who believes that everyone’s contribution is fundamental to the plan, including the relevent associations, parish councils, people responsible for the science of organizations, etc, in order to make a serious multisectoral plan.”

“We’re interested in culture. But we’re also interested in youth, social action, mobility, and urban planning. All of this contributes to the cultural contextualization of the territory and today’s session is to explain to you very briefly the methodology that we are going to apply and the importance of your participation,” said the professor before emphasizing that “a strategic plan is not a closed document, it has revisions and it breathes.”

Reaching out to the cultural fabric

“This convocation to communities is a call to everyone because we don’t want to leave anyone out. All the entities, all the organizations, and all the people who want to get involved should do so, and that’s why, from July 1 until the end of the year, there will be two suggestion boxes permanently available. The first is online, and anyone can send in a suggestion, while the second is for those who don’t have easy access to the internet but can use the postcards available in all the cultural spaces,” Manuel Gama explained.

The researcher stressed that it was “very important to fill in the questionnaire on cultural audiences because you can’t make a strategic plan without knowing the relationships that people have with the different cultural spaces and cultural facilities in Portimão and the region.

“Another very important moment in the methodology is the meeting with associations and collectivities, which will take place on the afternoon of July 9 in the Portimão
Arena auditorium, in order to understand the web of relationships that exists between the different organizations in the area, identifying very clearly and aims at the transversal needs of the associative fabric and those specific to the participating associations”, said the academic, who also highlighted the convocation for interviews and the carrying out of research, in addition to the creation of discussion groups.

The highlight of this planning will be the Municipal Culture Conference, scheduled for next September. This conference will dedicate a day to debating the issues of cultural policies for the future of the territory. There must be balance in terms of age diversity, gender, geographic location, and a set of scientific criteria.

“In short, over the next six months, we will have many data collection instruments, a lot of community involvement, a lot of involvement from different sectors, a lot of involvement from everyone, to build a portrait of what Portimão is in 2024: only from here will we be able to envision the future of culture in this attractive territory”, concluded Manuel Gama.

At the end of the presentation, the researcher and the many present in the auditorium exchanged ideas and requested clarification.


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