Canadian Arts Summit Widens Its Reach


Had the great privilege of being a “fellow” at the Canadian Arts Summit 2014 in Banff on the weekend….

The beautiful and inspiring setting (Banff is a Canadian cultural jewel!) was a perfect backdrop for the gathering of Canada’s largest LPA companies, orchestras and organizations.

[By way of history, the Summit was first held in 1998, when the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada (now Business for the Arts) and The Banff Centre invited the chairs, executive directors and artistic directors of 20 of Canada’s largest arts organizations to a Summit: “a forum where senior leaders of major arts organization could identify and understand common issues affecting all arts organizations, exchange ideas and collaborate on best practices, and develop strategies for creating a stronger, vibrant and thriving arts ecosystem in Canada”. ]

This year’s Summit reached beyond the tight community of its core membership to include arts leaders from other parts of the cultural sector as fellows and speakers. For example, Doug Borwick, “one of the US’s leading advocates for the arts and community engagement; writer Noah Richler; Winnipeg-based visual artist KC Adams; Michèle Maheux, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer for TIFF; Charles Smith, Lecturer, Cultural Pluralism in the Arts, University of Toronto Scarborough; Gideon Arthurs, General Manager, Tarragon Theatre; Anne Bertrand, Executive Director, Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference; and of course CHRC which brings its national network from across the cultural sector and experience and expertise in HR issues.

In the same spirit of reaching out, Summit organizers made the Friday sessions available by webcast across the country – over 600 accessed the Summit in this way. Organisers seemed a bit surprised by the success of this endeavor :-)

The issues and concerns of the “Summiteers” are shared by Canadian artists and arts organizations across the country. Beyond “increased funding for the Canada Council” which continues to be a “point de départ” for their discussions (though Jeff Melanson stressed in his speech on Saturday morning that it will be key to provide much more detail with that “ask”!), issues include the need for international touring and marketing support to reach global markets, finding ways to increase public engagement in and for the arts, the diminishing presence of arts education in the school system, succession planning and other organizational challenges in a quickly evolving environment that is driven by technology. The need for collaboration was stressed.

Have I heard this list before?

Yes indeed – most recently at CHRC’s HR Forum 2012 and the national consultations around the study on the impact of emerging digital technology on the cultural sector.  And they turn up in several sector-wide and sub-sector specific recommendations in the cultural sector HR study HR Trends and Issues and in Culture 3.0.

The Summit, as a voice for Canada’s largest arts organizations, has achieved impressive unity of action and effective advocacy through the Canadian Arts Coalition. It has made an enormous contribution to the cultural ecosystem of our country as the inspiration and driving force behind “Culture Days”. While they need to guard their original core with its distinct purpose and identity, they have the potential to broaden their influence and impact through inclusion of the full spectrum of LPA companies and organizations and other parts of the sector – visual arts and crafts, film, music, writers  etc.

They get it….

The outreach this year to their LPA colleagues and to the broader cultural sector is a move in that direction.

Hoping it will continue….

The Canadian Conference of the Arts to Close Doors after 67 Years

It is with great sadness that we forward you an announcement from Alain Pineau, National Director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA), that the CCA has decided to shut down its operations immediately. CHRC and CCA have worked closely together for the benefit of Canadian artists--the CCA on advocacy and policy, CHRC on HR and training. We will greatly miss our sister organization. A passionate, articulate and unifying voice for Canadian arts and culture has been silenced.