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Legacy, Transition, Succession: Supporting the Past and Future of Canada’s Arts Organizations

October 3, 20063 October 2006

Arts management / Human resources / Diversity

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Based primarily on a literature review, interviews with the Canada Council’s subcommittee on legacy, transition and succession, and interviews with other Council staff, this report highlights the situation of arts organizations regarding legacy, transition and succession. The report asserts that “legacy, transition and succession go to the fundamental nature of each art form and to our society’s relationship to the arts”.

Regarding legacy, the report notes that “the need to define, preserve and build on the legacies of arts organizations is perceived as significant and increasingly pressing”, due to demographic changes and questions of public investment and accountability. The report indicates that transitions are “key to artistic and organizational renewal”. To successfully negotiate transitions, organizations should engage in sound planning rather than crisis management. Similarly, the ideal succession is a planned change, requiring “responsible governance by boards or shareholders”.

The report also examines individual disciplinary contexts for legacy, transition and succession. “Legacy, transition and succession issues exist in all organizations … but they play out differently in each discipline and in different types of organizations.”

The report makes a number of recommendations in order to assist arts organizations in their legacy, transition and succession planning and to assist the Canada Council in assessing these planning efforts. The report recommends that the Canada Council adopt a policy statement on legacy, transition and succession as well as criteria for assessing legacy, transition and succession planning in organizations applying for operating support. The Canada Council is also urged to explore the feasibility of offering various resources to arts organizations, including a legacy, transition and succession toolkit, professional development resources, and consulting assistance. The report also recommends that an in-depth study “of the retirement needs of Canada’s senior artists [be conducted], covering health, economic, taxation and social benefits issues”.

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