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Survey of the Social Impacts of Dance Organizations in Canada

Canada Dance Mapping Study

October 19, 201619 October 2016

Performing arts

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Based on a survey of 367 dance companies, training schools, presenters, and service organizations, this report “aims to provide new knowledge and a more nuanced understanding of the social impact of dance organizations in Canada”. The report defines social impact to include “the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of individuals and communities”. The survey is part of the Canada Dance Mapping Study, a multi-year study of the dance field in Canada that was undertaken by the Canada Council for the Arts in collaboration with the Ontario Arts Council.

As with all online surveys where individuals self-select whether to respond, there is uncertainty as to whether the responses could provide a representative sample of all dance organizations. In fact, the report cautions that, “since the survey is not a probabilistic sample, a response rate or margin of sampling error is not applicable. We have no knowledge about whether or in what ways the respondents are representative of the database – or the Canadian dance field at large. The reader should not extrapolate results beyond the respondents.”

Among the survey respondents, 68% “have offered a dance activity or program over the last three years with the aim of achieving a social impact on the health or well-being of individuals and the community in which they are located or in which they tour”. This percentage is highest among Prairie respondents (83%) and lowest among Quebec respondents (50%). The data are examined for different types of organizations, including dance companies (80% of which offer programming related to health and well-being), leisure dance groups (70%), academies or schools (65%), and presenters or associations (63%).

When social impact programming was broken down into six key areas, the survey results show that the programming is most commonly focussed on community vitality, energy, civic engagement (55% of dance organizations with social impact programming), fostering the physical and psychological well-being of individuals (53%), promoting the healthy development of children (50%), and promoting intellectual enrichment (47%). Smaller proportions of respondents with social impact programming have attempted to foster cultural or linguistic appreciation and understanding (40%) or engage or involve specific, vulnerable and marginalized segments of society (27%). The full report provides details about the anticipated benefits for participants within each of these areas.

In terms of the sectors in which dance organizations have “offered social impact programming in the last three years”, education and schools was most commonly selected (by 56% of those with social impact programming), followed by civic engagement or sense of belonging (55%), sports and recreation (50%), multiculturalism (44%), health (37%), youth issues (also 37%), and seniors' issues (35%).

Classes (72%) and workshops (70%) are the most common ways of delivering programming intended to have social impacts, followed by community arts events (50%) and cultural festivities (39%). Funding for the social impact programming of dance organizations most often comes from “participants pay” or other fee for service arrangements (selected by 68% of those with social programming), individual donations (45%), and government funding (43%).

Most of the dance organizations with social impact programming indicated that their efforts have increased over the past three years (58%). Similarly, 54% expect that their social impact work will increase over the next three years.

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