The British Columbia Cultural Roundtable Network has been created in response to numerous requests for a continuation of the Community Cultural Roundtable series launched by the Alliance for Arts + Culture in the spring of 2015. In the course of 19 such community gatherings around the province, the facilitators often heard that such networking and sharing opportunities were much needed on an ongoing basis.

A lack of opportunities for a community’s museum manager, librarian, arts educator, orchestra leader, and art gallery curator to get together and discuss issues of mutual importance was identified as a major factor in the “silo effect” that keeps arts, culture, and heritage workers and individual artists from hearing one-another’s voices, sharing ideas, and working towards common goals.

Who’s In Charge? The BC Cultural Roundtable Network will be grassroots driven, with coordination, frequency, agenda items, and process all determined by the communities where they are held.

Help From The Alliance: What the Alliance will provide will be an umbrella identity and associated branding (logos, etc.), a toolkit that will include signage, links to useful resource material, an online forum for Cultural Roundtables across the province to share ideas and information. The toolkit will be frequently updated with new material and resources.

The Alliance will also offer help with custom designing special signage, community-specific logos for local use, recommend and help set up RSVP sites, and support your Roundtable through our own website, newsletter, and social media.

The Roundtable Criteria: Each Roundtable will be locally driven, with the only criteria being that each Roundtable that takes place under the BC Cultural Roundtable Network brand must be inclusive. Community members from all arts disciplines, business sectors, and social endeavours such as health, education, and social justice all have a stake in the future of arts, culture, and heritage. One of the goals of the Roundtable Network is to further the breakdown of the silos that separate us and bring more voices, issues, and ideas to the conversation. We will achieve this by casting our net as wide as possible and calling in as diverse a representation of our communities as possible.

From time to time the Roundtable Network organizers may suggest a topic for consideration. These topics may include the proposed theme for each year’s annual provincial BC Cultural Roundtable, hosted by the Alliance for Arts + Culture, or a current or emerging issue of province-wide importance. Local Roundtables will not be obliged to hold a Roundtable on suggested topics.


Most cultural community leaders have some experience with one or more of the many formats for group conversations. The “Resource Material” document in our Roundtable Toolkit currently lists a number of books on the subject. As we source additional material we will add it to the toolkit.

Three popular group conversation formats are:

Open Space is discussion is a technique which begins with everyone in attendance having an opportunity to offer a topic or question for discussion, provided they are willing to lead that conversation. Everyone then gets to sign up for the topics that interest them and participate in a number of discussions over the course of the gathering.

World Café is a format that thrives in thoughtfully designed settings, often on the model of a café, and poses a series of questions to roundtable groups where individuals move from group to group for each topic. The process makes extensive use of visual and graphic record keeping. 

The Fishbowl is a process where a large group of people stand in a circle around four chairs placed facing each other. Four individuals in the seats begin the conversation and those standing in the circle listen. People in the standing circle can indicate a desire to join the conversation by standing behind one of the chairs. As soon as someone in one of the chairs moves to the standing circle, the person waiting a turn takes that seat.

The Alliance will continue to research alternative formats and share summaries and publicly available material with BC Cultural Roundtable Network participants.

Starting a Cultural Roundtable In Your Community

Click the button below and complete the form to indicate your interest in starting a Cultural Roundtable in your community, or drop the Alliance for Arts + Culture project consultant Kevin Dale McKeown a note to learn more about the Roundtable Network and how your community can join the conversation.