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Supplementary Report on Presenting and Aboriginal Communities

The Value of Presenting: A Study of Arts Presentation in Canada

August 18, 201218 August 2012

Aboriginal arts / Cultural diversity

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This brief report summarizes select findings from a survey of 288 Canadian performing arts presenters. The report acknowledges that, “long before European explorers came to Canada, Aboriginal peoples had a rich, expressive artistic life including dance, theatre, storytelling, music – all inseparable from every other aspect of life.”

How is this rich, expressive artistic life integrated into Canadian presenters’ activities? The report indicates that 12% of the presenters surveyed have a mandate that focuses on serving Aboriginal audiences, with higher rates in Western Canada than elsewhere. Overall, a larger number of presenters focus on culturally diverse audiences (30%) and minority language audiences (20%).

Presenters that do focus on Aboriginal, culturally diverse or minority language audiences indicated that they try to play a significant role in “exposing audiences to different cultures” and “connecting audiences and arts/artists from across Canada and around the world”. Partnerships are particularly important for these presenters, in terms of links to non-arts based organizations, government organizations, and the private sector.

Presenters serving Aboriginal audiences are more likely than other presenters to: 1) be a festival; 2) present interdisciplinary arts, media arts, and spoken word / storytelling; and 3) present works in Aboriginal languages. Their funding mix is similar to that of other presenters, and they share the number one concern about “the reliability of government funding”. They tend to have a smaller staff than other presenters and are less likely to own their venue.

Some challenges for Aboriginal presenters include developing audiences and finding appropriate production and presentation modes. The report indicates that “there is a sense of a persistent lack of professional performance spaces for Aboriginal works”.

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