In RACC's first year of existence, it completed a comprehensive Cultural Needs Assessment to lay the groundwork for the development of a Cultural Master Plan. In 1993 the Commission retained AMS Planning and Research, and Barbara Kibbe Consulting for a continued planning phase. Community input was obtained from:
- a volunteer steering committee comprised of community leaders representing City government
- arts and cultural organizations
- service clubs public schools and the community college
- individual artists, and community focus group meetings with city government and civic leaders
In 1995-96 additional city funding for Phase III of the plan was received for resource development and an Art-in-Public Places ordinance which was approved in 1997. Since 1998 the commission has focused on increasing the role and access to the city's arts and cultural heritage programs. The Commission maintains an effective internal structure through annual professionally-facilitated strategic planning retreats. These retreats have resulted in the creation of an effective committee base, and City Council approval of a full-time staff position to coordinate and advance the implementation of the Cultural Plan.
A steering committee, comprised of community leaders representing city government, business, arts and cultural organizations, service clubs, public schools, and the community college, churches, and individual artists, assisted with the planning process. The Cultural Plan's objectives were prioritized according to five criteria that guided the volunteer steering committee's decision-making:
- Committed leadership to the champion implementation
- Potential to involve multiple constituencies Involvement of existing cultural and art institutions
- Aim at reaching a diverse cross-section of the city's residents Sound economic policies and use of resources
Four goals were recommended:
- The committee's top priority goal concerned marketing and outreach. Specific programs were recommended to heighten awareness and visibility of the city's arts and cultural assets, including its resident arts and cultural organizations and individual artists. Suggested programs promoting the city's cultural life include:
- development of a newsletter used by city groups, and creation of a cooperative arts organization mailing list for use by the city's arts and cultural institutions
- pro-bono marketing and public relations assistance for Richmond artists' organizations
- creation of "Neighborhood Mini-Grants" program to provide funding for neighborhood councils and community-based groups to utilize Richmond artists and performing ensembles at local festivals and block parties
- Creating specific physical and signage improvements in the city's Civic Center and along its traffic corridors. Objectives include making the Civic Center more user-friendly, upgrading existing cultural facilities, improving access by the public, and sponsoring murals and other public art programs throughout the city's neighborhoods.
- Recruitment of commissioners and volunteers, and creation of collaborative mailing lists and marketing projects. Creation of artwork-on-loan programs for local businesses featuring local artists, and an annual citywide exhibit to make for stronger links with artist service organizations throughout the Bay Area.
- Working with the city's business community, arts and youth programs, neighborhood partnerships, and strengthening the relationship between the city's cultural groups and the Civic Center farmer's market held on Fridays.