Innovation and resilience in the arts, culture, and heritage is a multi-year project of The Creative City Network of Canada in partnership with the Cultural Human Resources Council, Les Arts et la Ville, and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. Representatives from each of the partner organizations came together to form a Steering Committee to guide the research.

Hill Strategies led the research for the first phase of this project, while its second phase involves professional development to transmit key learnings to other cultural organizations and artists, with the goal of building resilience within the arts and heritage sector.

The project highlights innovative practices and sources of resilience among artists and cultural organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many artists and organizations in the arts, culture, and heritage have responded and adapted to pandemic-induced challenges by doing new things or doing things in new ways. This website offers 29 in-depth stories as well as a much longer (but still limited) list of innovations and pivots. Our synthesis report (pdf, 1.6MB) distills 12 key themes from the research.

For the research phase, Kelly Hill (Hamilton, ON) worked with a talented and diverse team of Story Seekers who identified and wrote stories of innovation during the pandemic: Anju Singh (Vancouver, BC), Blanche Israël (Halifax, NS), JP Longboat (Ottawa, ON), Margaret Lam (Kitchener, ON), Melanie Fernandez (Toronto, ON), and Myriam Benzakour-Durand (Montreal, QC).


Kelly Hill
Project Lead

Kelly Hill, President of Hill Strategies Research, has a unique perspective on the arts and heritage thanks to the 400+ research projects that he has undertaken since founding Hill Strategies in 2002. His experience includes qualitative and quantitative research into various arts and heritage disciplines. He has a strong interest in projects that illuminate the well-being of artists and arts organizations across Canada.

Anju Singh

Anju Singh is a multidisciplinary artist and consultant based in Vancouver, BC with over 15 years of experience in leadership, technical, and administrative roles in the not-for-profit and arts sectors. Anju specializes in the areas of technology, media arts, systems change work, project management, and digital transformation.

Blanche Israël

Blanche Israël is a multilingual Canadian consultant, cellist, and the founder of proScenium Services, which specializes in strategy, development, and virtualizing in the performing arts. During the pandemic, Blanche launched a livestream technician service for Canadian artists and arts organizations. Consulting clients have included Dadan Sivunivut, the Canadian Opera Company, The Arts Firm, and Orchestras Canada. Blanche completed a degree in Arts Management at the University of Toronto in 2014. She has performed and toured as a cellist with JUNO Award-winning Indigenous operatic tenor and composer Jeremy Dutcher since 2018.

JP Longboat

JP Longboat is a storyteller and multidisciplinary artist. He is Kanyen’kehà:ka (Mohawk), Turtle Clan and grew up along the River Ouse, Haldimand Deed territory, Ontario. JP has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree through combined education at the University of Michigan and the Ontario College of Art and Design. He has extensive professional training and practice in traditional and contemporary forms of visual art and live performance. JP has trained, collaborated, and performed with many professional theatre and dance companies across Canada. His work emanates from the cultural ways of his people and his creative process is grounded in the legacy of First Nations artistic practice. He is the founder and Associate Director of Circadia Indigena-Indigenous Arts Collective based in Algonquin territory, along the Kichi sibi at Akikodjiwan Falls. The collective creates full length performance works and land-based multidisciplinary festivals.

Margaret Lam

Margaret Lam is the Design Research Lead at Octagram, a software consultancy in Canada. She consults and advises on numerous strategic digital initiatives, where she brings a nuanced understanding of how human-centered design practices can inform social innovation and digital transformation within the arts and culture sector. Select projects include CAPACOA’s Linked Digital Future Initiative, Creative Users’ Accessing the Arts, ArtsPond’s Hatch Open and She is also the founder of BeMused Network and the co-founder of DigitalASO.

Melanie Fernandez

Melanie Fernandez has over 25 years of leadership experience in the arts and cultural sectors with a focus on exploring innovative frameworks for producing and learning through community-engaged intersectional practices. Melanie’s work is rooted in inclusionary platforms that ensure postcolonial representation of racialized and Indigenous stories. Currently, Melanie is the Coordinator of the Arts Education & Community Engagement at Centennial College, is the Project Manager for the final phase of restoration of the Mohawk Institute Residential School site, and consults. Consulting clients have included Mural Routes, Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, Ukrainian Culture Festival, Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, Lifeline Syria, the British Museum, the Woodland Cultural Centre, North York Board of Education and others.

Myriam Benzakour-Durand

Myriam Benzakour-Durand has professional experience with various arts organizations, as well as in community engagement and community arts in Montreal. Having completed a master’s degree in management, she has specialized in understanding conflictual relationships within social services, the arts, and non-traditional management structures. Her academic and professional background has allowed her to put to good use her ease in human relations, her ability to understand the needs and strengths of each person, and her capacity to find creative and innovative solutions.



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