INNOVATION & RESILIENCE
IN CANADA’S CULTURAL SECTOR

Les mots s'animent

Montreal, Quebec Project: Virtual Performances
Discipline(s): theatre, arts education

The group had great success after adapting their school performances and theatrical readings to a digital format.

Source: Canadian Network for Arts and Learning

Link to website

Talk is Free Theatre

Barrie, Ontario Project: The Bees in the Bush Festival (and others)
Discipline(s): theatre

Rethinking how they produce; made the season free.

Source: Research

Link to website

Arts Council Wood Buffalo

Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, Alberta Project: Buffys 2020: Arts Awards
Discipline(s): dance, media arts, museums and galleries, music, reading, writing, publishing, theatre, visual arts, multidisciplinary, arts education

The Buffys, also known as the Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards, is an annual program that recognizes and celebrates excellence in various areas of the arts and builds awareness of the incredible contribution artists make to Wood Buffalo. The Buffys invest in the future of our growing arts community by supporting our most exceptional artists through appreciation and employment opportunities, and by connecting artists to the wider community.

Special impacts:

Typically, the Buffys are a live, in-person event featuring live performances and presentations; however, with restrictions due to COVID-19, Arts Council Wood Buffalo adjusted the format of the awards showcase and turned it into an online cinematic experience that was pre-recorded and then broadcast for free on multiple platforms. Historically, the in-person showcase has reached an audience of about 400 people, but by offering it in an online format, the awards showcase reached an audience of over 14,000 households during the event premiere.

This story is special and impactful because the local arts community was featured to a much wider audience, which gave local artists a much wider reach to build their reputations despite restrictions due to the pandemic. After the event, local artists (award nominees, recipients and performers) were able to access the video as a legacy piece for their portfolios and continued promotion of their art forms. The Buffys provides artists with paid opportunities to showcase their work, and by moving the awards showcase to an online format, even more opportunities became available for artists to be paid for their work - this was especially important during a time when paid opportunities for artists had decreased significantly.

This was also the first time that the Buffys reached as far as Hollywood. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented virtually to Tantoo Cardinal, who is an Indigenous Canadian Actress from Anzac (a hamlet just south of Fort McMurray). Cardinal has been in feature films such as "Dances With Wolves," "Unforgiven," and "Legends of the Fall."

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples, Racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, D/deaf, disabled, or live with difference, Members of official language minority groups
Source: Survey

Link to website

Théâtre Action

Ottawa, Ontario Project: L’Effet papillon
Discipline(s): theatre

C’est sous ce thème que le Festival de Théâtre Action en Milieu Scolaire a permis aux jeunes francophones de l'Ontario, durant deux jours d’une intensité inoubliable, de recevoir de la formation dispensée virtuellement par des artistes professionnels et de participer à des créations interactives en ligne. L’événement est très attendu chaque année !
Il réunit des centaines de jeunes élèves passionnés du théâtre, une quarantaine d’enseignants, une vingtaine d’artistes, des étudiants de l’Université d’Ottawa et de l’Université Laurentienne.

Special impacts:

Après l’annulation de l’édition précédente, c’est avec émotion et acharnement que l’équipe de Théâtre Action s’est attelée à la concrétisation de cette édition en mode virtuel. Malgré l’appréhension, légitime pour une première en format virtuel, tout s’est bien déroulé ! Ce n’était pas le festival attendu, mais les jeunes ont dit que c’était celui dont ils avaient besoin. L’équipe s’est même surprise à avoir du fun, même si elle ne s’attendait pas à la même énergie que sur le terrain. Ça l’a été pour cette équipe une expérience humaine riche en émotions. L’équipe a pu rire, danser, chanter et applaudir le talent et de la passion de la jeune relève théâtrale, malgré la distance.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Toronto Adventures

Toronto, Ontario Project: Paddle Concerts
Discipline(s): theatre, dance, music

Concerts, comedy and more from a dock for paddlers.

Source: Research

Link to website

Bailiwick Booking and Management

Georgina, Ontario Project: Change in practice
Discipline(s): dance, music, theatre, multidisciplinary

As a young company, Bailiwick does not have operational funding funding from the Canada Council which has made working through the pandemic extremely hard. However, Bailiwick's founder Tara Bailey has remained positive. Throughout the pandemic she was able to connect more with her artists and moving forward hopes to continue this working environment.

Special impacts:

What's special about this story is how the pandemic changed her outlook on working relationships. During the pandemic, she became close with her artists as they needed emotional support in a time of upheaval and uncertainty. Moving forward, she will try and keep the number of artists she represents lower to build more meaningful artist relationships. It also means that she gets to choose the artists that she works with, contributing to an overall more fulfilling experience.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Digital Cutters

National (AB base), Alberta Project: Digital Cutting Research Project
Discipline(s): design, theatre, dance, music

Innovation in costume production: designers would not have to be in the same space to fit people for costumes for theatre, dance etc.

Special impacts:

Benefits beyond the pandemic could inlcude lower costs, less waste of materials/resources, and more. While the concept came to life during and because of COVID, it is a lasting solution.

Source: Research

Link to website

Kingston Theatre Alliance

Kingston, Ontario, Ontario Project: The Kick & Push Festival
Discipline(s): festivals, theatre

In 2020, the Kick & Push Festival was reimagined in ways that pushed the boundaries in terms of live performance in partnership with Canadian theatre artists through creative uses of technology coupled with physically distanced in-person gatherings. It did so by switching from a presentation model to one composed entirely of creative residencies in which artist were asked and paid professional rates to respond to the pandemic via their practice.

Special impacts:

The opportunities the Festival generated brought energy and attention to the local theatre scene during the summer months and it also resulted in the increased involvement of artists, audiences and supporters. It was the only presenter of live theatrical performance in southeastern Ontario in the summer of 2020.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Survey

Link to website

Théâtre du Trillium en coproduction avec 23:59

Ottawa, Ontario Project: PANAMÁ : Donde hay un canal que une el mundo
Discipline(s): theatre

Ce projet se penche sur l'étonnante amitié qui s'est tissée entre une jeune fille de dix ans d'une petite ville du Michigan, nommée Sarah York, et l'homme qui était alors considéré l'ennemi no.1 des États-Unis, le dictateur du Panama, Manuel Noriega. Les créateurs ont pu adapter et poursuivre leur travail pendant la pandémie.

Special impacts:

C’était initialement un projet destiné à la scène. Il se base sur plusieurs années d’enquête et a dû se transformer, être reporté et se transformer encore, pour finalement prendre la forme d’une expérience numérique web audacieuse. Malgré qu’il n’y ait plus de présence sur scène, ce projet fait appel à plusieurs artistes de tous âges issus des communautés latino-américaines. L’équipe a pris la décision consciente d’y investir l’énergie et le temps nécessaire pour faire honneur à cette histoire et a réussi à trouver une façon de la raconter.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Saskatoon Summer Players

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Project: The Addams Family
Discipline(s): theatre

The goal was to have a chance to safely create and provide entertainment to the community. It included breaking the cast into cohorts, masked rehearsals, socially-distanced stage design and blocking and other Covid protocol like sanitizing and closed rehearsals. It was a fully staged production which we will be shooting with multiple cameras (courtesy of Bamboo Shoots) and it was live broadcasted live from Rawlco Radio Hall at the Remai Arts Centre. We ended up getting viewers from Canada, the USA, Australia, UK, Mexico, Norway, Austria, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Netherland, Turkey, and Ireland!

There was also a tiered payment system. Since people were only granted one screening code, they were offered the option to pay a little more and get some snacks or merch, or just give a little extra because they were screening for a lot of people and wanted to be honest about it!

General Admission – $30 + BO Fees ($34)
One screen access

Loyal Patron – $46 + BO Fees ($50)
One screen access (for the loyal patrons who intend to have more than one person watching and want to offer their support to SSP by paying a higher price point)

Sending Some Love – $56 + BO Fees ($60)
One screen access and a flower arrangement sent to the performance venue for the cast and crew (option to provide a congratulatory note or direct it to a specific cast members)

Surprise Swag Bag – $66 + BO Fees ($70)
One screen access and a bag of swag from SSP delivered to your home (available within Saskatoon only)

Spooktacular Snack Pack for 2 – $76 + BO Fees ($80)
One screen access and themed appetizers for two prepared by D’reen’s Catering delivered to your home the day of the show. (available within Saskatoon only) Vegetarian option available.

Special impacts:

For me, the innovation came in the form of the thoughtful protocol put into place for the rehearsal process, the high quality of the live-stream, and the tiered payment options. (And to boot, no one contracted Covid during the rehearsal process or run of the show.) While I cannot speak on behalf of the organization, I could see this experience influencing how shows are ticketed in the future, as well as potential avenues of bringing theatre to many audiences.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Prince Edward Island Department of Education

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Project: Teaching and modelling resilience through the arts
Discipline(s): theatre

The P.E.I. Student Drama Festival took to the stage virtually in 2021, with class performances professionally filmed and edited and then posted online. Usually students from across the Island would rehearse their play or skit at school, and then finish up with a public performance on a professional stage with sets and lights, such as at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Last year's school drama festival was cancelled because of COVID-19. This year, 203 students from grades 3 to 11, from eight schools across the Island put together 24 productions that are now available online.

Special impacts:

This is a story about two champions in arts education, their journey during the first 18-months of the pandemic, and the importance of fostering creativity in students. The story focuses on two arts-based programs: the PEI Student Drama Festival and the ArtsSmarts PEI Learning Experience.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Artists Rendering Tales Collective Inc.

Richmond, British Columbia Project: Spring Into Reading Month
Discipline(s): theatre, arts education

The collective pivoted to provide enriching visiting artist experiences to classrooms using digital platforms.

Source: Canadian Network for Arts and Learning

Link to website

SpanicArts: Hispanic Association of Professional Artists Ltd.

Calgary, Alberta Project: DesayunArte & DramatizArte
Discipline(s): dance, libraries, media arts, museums and galleries, music, reading, writing, publishing, theatre, visual arts, multidisciplinary

These two programs were developed by SpanicArts as an effort to innovate and adapt during the pandemic. The two events were adapted to be streamed online and keep the community engaged and connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DESAYUNARTE:
DesayunArte begun in November 2019 with the purpose of bringing people closer to the visual arts. Each month, we invite members of the community to listen to an artist talk about a specific theme. The artists giving the talk are artists whose practices are related to the theme of each month. In the beginning, these artist talks were in person meetings, where people were able to meet each other, enjoy a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast while learning about art and engaging in meaningful conversations. The topics for the first three in- person sessions were:
Death through the Hispanic and LatinAmerican Vision. October 2019.
Music as a social expression in the Hispanic Culture. November 2019.
LainAmercian Women & Art March 2020.
With the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, SpanicArts had to find a way to keep the programming going and engage with the public. We decided to stream the programs online using Facebook Live. This meant of course that we could no longer meet in person and enjoy sharing a warm cup of coffee and croissants and thet we were unable to host the events in spaces dedicated to cultural activities. Nonetheless, bringing the programs to an online platform allowed us to reach a much wider audience, beyond the Calgary Community. We were able to expand our audience not only in Canada, but also internationally. We were able to invite artists from other places around the world to connect and participate with our local artists. We decided to host our events with one artist from our community and one artist from a different place, to create more opportunities for networking and discussion. By doing so, we realized that a new door had opened before our eyes: that of a fruitful exchange of realities from different communities all over the world. We now have SpanicArts members residing in many different parts of Canada.
DesyunArte has grown its audience and the possibilities have expanded since the beginning of the pandemic. As an organization, this challenge has also helped us to expand and grow our vision.
The themes for all the DesayunArte events we have held until now are:
1. Hispanic Theatre. April 25th, 2020
2. Art in the time of Covid. May 30th, 2020
3. Interculturality and Solidarity among communities. June 25th, 2020
4.Confined performance. July 27th, 2020
5. Artist Nature September 19th, 2020
6. Music in support of non violence. October 3rd, 2020
7. LatinAmercian Religious Art. November 2020
8. The gift of Art December 12th, 2020
9. Blue Monday Theatre. January 30th, 2021
10. Loving Art. February 20th, 2021
11. Feminist Art. March 20th, 2021
12. A world without art. April 17th, 2021
13. Behind the scene of creativity. May 29th, 2021
14. LGTBQ Art. June 26th 2021
15. Art in the field July 24th 2021

DRAMATIZARTE:
DramatizArte was scheduled to launch in March 2020. The project’s objective was to promote the reading of Theatre plays written by Hispanic authors, through dramatized readings in English or in Spanish to engage and nurture Hispanic reading amongst the new generations, to share the work and the plays of Hispanic theatre writers; and to promote and encourage the work of our local theatre performers and artists. This proposal was also developed as a way to minimize the cost of scene montage and rehearsals. Initially, the project was meant to be carried out in public libraries, where the public could join, with an entrance by donation, to help support the cast.
Once again, since the pandemic did not allow for those initial plans to take place, the event was moved to our online platforms, to be streamed via Facebook Live. To promote and support our members, half of the cast of each reading must be SpanicArts members. The event is held every two months and at the end of each reading there is a short interview to get to know the artists and ask them what they learned and experienced through the process of preparing for the event.
For the first event, we presented one scene from the play “Rosa de dos aromas” by Mexican writer Emilio Carballido.
In the March edition of DramatizArte we presented the short story “Unete Pueblo”, again from Mexican writer and playwright Emilio Carballido.
Performed by the theatre company “Latin Scenario”, the first organization to join SpanicArts as members. LatinScenario operates and is located primarily in Vancouver, BC.
The last edition of Desyunarte presented the play “Hamlet Mats”, performed by a theatre company based in Querétaro México. Thanks to the use of technology and online platforms, we were able to invite them to share their work, as well as helped them promote their work to the Canadian public.
So far, all the plays have been performed in Spanish, but we are considering the opportunity to present plays in English as well. We will continue to present plays from Hispanic writers and a cast with a minimum of 50% SpanicArts members.
We intend to be able to make these events in person as soon as possible to do so in a safe manner, hopefully by the Fall of 2021. We will also continue to stream the plays online to reach more public in the future.

Special impacts:

The future goals for DesayunArte is to continue attracting new public from different parts of the world and to obtain funding to be able to pay our artists a fee for their participation.
DramatizArte is an event that does not require as big a time commitment from the participants (actors and director) as an in-person theatrical performance (rehearsing, several functions). The budget is also smaller given that the play is presented online and the scenography can be digital as well.
DramatizArte is a project that allows us to create a platform for our theatre artists, many of whom do not speak English, giving them an opportunity to learn and engage with a new audience.
The future goals for DramatizArte are to present the plays in person once it is safe to do so, and to pay the cast of performing artists participating with the donations received during the functions.
This event opens the opportunity to collaborate with other theatre groups from other communities across Canada and other countries, like we did with the theatre company Los Focos, from Queretaro, Mexico.
Lastly, DramatizArte is an attractive opportunity to Hispanic playwrights to submit their work for consideration and possibly become featured in our event. SpanicArts wants to help these artists by promoting and making their work known to a wider audience worldwide.

Equity seeking: Racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+
Source: Survey

Link to website

Perchance Theatre at Cupids

Cupids/St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador Project: The Power of One Monologue Project
Discipline(s): theatre

In March of 2020, the world shut down under the weight of COVID-19, taking with it the entire performing arts industry. Knowing immediately that it would be one of the last industries to reopen and just how many artists here in our province would be impacted, Perchance Theatre responded by reimagining a way of working; restructuring to make that possible. We rebuilt a season that spoke to the reality of where we, as a community of artists and audiences across the province, found ourselves.

The Power of One was born. An initiative that spoke to the heart of the mission and mandate of Perchance – the power of words and ideas explored through classical text and performed in the outdoors. We channeled our passion for our province’s history and geography and the power of technology to reach far beyond our stage in Cupids to feature 41 of our province’s artists doing one monologues from each one of Shakespeare’s plays from Nain to the Southern Shore, in barrens and bays, forests and frozen land.

While we learned new skills as a company, we were also able to employ over 50 artists from all stages of career in all walks of life across our entire province. Employment that has not just helped financially in this terrible economic time, but holistically. The arts are a calling. Artists without work are pining because their work is what nourishes them; not just financially but spiritually.

Special impacts:

Overall this initiative created 61 unique employment opportunities for cultural workers, showcasing both the Province’s talent, language and its unique spaces. Each monologue was tied to a specific location in the province that echoed the message of the monologue. From The Book of Sir Thomas More asking for compassion for refugees (The Bulgarian refugee immigration of 1990 in Gander) to The Twelfth Night (Translated into Inuktitut and featured the tradition of the Nalijuk) right down to the beginning and conclusion of our journey - leaving from our theatre in sadness in 2020 (All the World's a Stage) to a joyful return(Perchance to Dream) to throw open our doors on our summer season.

Thanks to the success of the Power of One, marketing the theatre will become much easier as Perchance now has a heightened brand awareness throughout the province, nationally and internationally. Even if the borders remain closed in 2021, we have forged new connections in many areas of the province from which to draw provincial ‘staycation’ audiences.

Incredibly, this initiative was more successful that we dreamed and while the company sees about 2700 people through its doors over the course of a season, each monologue is now being viewed by on average by 25k (and for some up to 50K on facebook alone) people all over the globe. As we head into the 2021 season, we are going in with an audience primed and ready for live and virtual performance in our unique style and an audience that has grown exponentially.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples, Racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, D/deaf, disabled, or live with difference
Source: Survey

Link to website

Théâtre Cercle Molière

Winnipeg, Manitoba Project: Le Festival théâtre jeunesse virtuel
Discipline(s): theatre, festivals

Cette année, pour célébrer le 51e Festival théâtre jeunesse du Théâtre Cercle Molière, nous avons lancé notre tout premier et FTJ virtuel.

Entre janvier et avril, près de 450 élèves ont participé à 75 ateliers à distance offerts par le Théâtre Cercle Molière en collaboration avec Le festival Freeze Frame. Et la semaine du 17 au 21 mai, presque 400 élèves ont pu se connecter et connecter entre eux à travers du Forum, des activités et en naviguant notre tout nouveau site Web du FTJ. 17 troupes et 13 écoles différentes ont vécu une expérience théâtrale en temps de pleine pandémie. C’est du jamais vu et c’est quelque chose à célébrer!

Notre après-midi Gala au thème “Zoom Glam” du vendredi, 21 mai, avec notre animateur, Eugène Baffoe, a célébré les projets de tous et les jeunes ont pu célébrer et être célébrés.

Ce grand événement rassembleur fut une réelle réussite, malgré la distanciation sociale grâce à la contribution de nombreux individus, commanditaires et partenaires que l'on remercie sincèrement.

Special impacts:

Cette année nous avons pû accueillir des écoles en région et hors province sans que personne n'ait besoin de se déplacer. Le contexte nous a fait réaliser à quel point l'accessibilité au festival est important pour nous.

Le site Web et son Forum interactif furent appréciés par tous et offraient une nouvelle façon pour les jeunes de se rencontrer, de présenter leurs projets et partager leurs succès et défis.

Les ateliers en ligne et sessions de formation seront sûrement à répéter puisque la demande était haute et et les commentaires d'enseignant.e.s très positifs.

Et, cette année, pour la première fois, nous avons créé un groupe consultatif d'élèves représentant.e.s de chaque groupe participant. Sonder ces jeunes, communiquer avec eux et les rencontrer nous a aidé à ajuster et améliorer au fur et à mesure que nous planifions.

Tous les ajustements, apprentissages et succès que nous a offert cette dernière année nous guideront dans un FTJ encore plus interactif, branché et dynamique en 2022.

Equity seeking: Members of official language minority groups
Source: Survey

Link to website

Thousand Islands Playhouse

Gananoque, Ontario Project: Makers Studio and community engagement
Discipline(s): theatre

TIP cancelled their regular season in 2020. Note, the 2021 season will go forward with both live and virtual ticket types. They've remained flexible with public health guidelines and have already pushed their first show to the end of the season. They've turned their parking lot into an outdoor lobby for this summer's season.
During 2020, though, their focus was heavy on community engagement. TIP is located in a small town at the west end of the Thousand Islands, Gananoque. The two theatres are located in heritage buildings, and the Playhouse's summer season is a huge economic driver for the town. When they couldn't conduct a season, they turned to community initiatives including a Reverse Halloween (collecting donated candy, building goodie bags, and delivering them to registered households around the area), a winter coat drive, and more. They also organized a holiday themed Makers Studio series, hiring local artisans and crafters to lead socially-distanced holiday craft workshops.

Special impacts:

I think the main take away from TIP's innovation is using their employees' skills to refocus from creating theatre to serving their town and community. They do this every year in a more inadvertent way by being a key player in local tourism and economic growth, but this year, they applied their community service in a more direct way. They weren't making theatre or revenue (apart from a community-led fundraiser for some facility renovations), but their commitment to their community (and to keeping their staff employed and busy) will reinforce their value in their small town's eyes. It is vital for their survival and ability to recover to have reinforced this local support.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Eastern Front Theatre

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia Project: Micro-Digital Program: Micro digitals, macro impact
Discipline(s): media arts, theatre, multidisciplinary

Hired 20 groups/artists to create theatre and theatre adjacent programming in 1 minute videos for social media.

Special impacts:

Each video was accessible (captioned), some were funny, some were sad, some were informative.

Source: Survey

Link to website

25th Street Theatre

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Project: This is NOT That Theatre Festival
Discipline(s): festivals, theatre

“Saskatoon has a really vibrant theatre scene and we didn’t want to not be able to showcase that because of COVID,” said Megan McDonald, executive assistant of 25th Street Theatre.

This is NOT That Festival is taking its place this year and offers a variety of live digital theatre performances and collaborative workshops.

They are being streamed on 25th Street Theatre’s website and Facebook page and are available for viewing after they’ve aired.

“We really wanted to make sure that we could still feature great local artists as well as artists across North America. Just because we can’t do it in person doesn’t mean we can’t all come together around this shared experience of theatre,” McDonald said.

She added that it was very important to the theatre company to still be able to showcase local artists and give them a platform to share their stories.

Some physical distanced events are also taking place on Broadway throughout the festival, including an interactive art installation that shows videos of people’s experiences during quarantine, McDonald said.

Also including: "Live From Your Lawn" shows.

Special impacts:

Finding alternate ways to host a Fringe Festival and celebrate theatre.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Théâtre la Seizième

Vancouver, British Columbia Project: MICRO-RÉSIDENCES DE CRÉATION
Discipline(s): theatre

Le projet visait à propulser le développement de projets de création et à soutenir les artistes francophones locaux.

Special impacts:

À défaut de pouvoir embaucher les artistes dans les productions habituelles de la saison, la compagnie a misé dans son programme de développement dramaturgique. Un cachet a été offert aux artistes qui ont participé aux résidences. En les payant, la compagnie les incite à rester et freine l’exode des talents francophones dans la région.

Source: Survey

Link to website

April MacDonald Killins and the YEG Performing Arts Accessibility Ad Hoc Group

Edmonton (Treaty 6 territory - amiskwaciy-wâskahikan), Alberta Project: Stories to Action: Co-Creating Inclusive Pathways to Professional Theatre
Discipline(s): reading, writing, publishing, theatre

This was an equity-in-theatre themed research project completed between February 2020 and February 2021. It was designed by April M. Killins and done in partnership with 36 high profile performing arts organizations in Edmonton that make up the YEG Performing Arts Accessibility Ad Hoc Group. The goals of the project were to examine access and equity in the pathways artists take to gain credibility in a professional theatre practice. It was originally planned to use theatre-based research methods but had to adjust to virtual mediums due to the pandemic. In the end, recommendations were provided and adopted by organizations to help them come out of the pandemic with more inclusive practices to stimulate diversity onstage and backstage, and to improve access for artists from all backgrounds,
abilities, and/or other forms of social difference that are poorly represented in the industry.

Special impacts:

This project was innovative because it was community-based in its approach and completion. It pulled together the voices of 135 artists, 36 arts organizations and 17 theatre-training pathways to facilitate safe and productive lines of communication. It offered some financial supports to artists in a pandemic-paused field in the form of reimbursement for their participation, and its findings were presented as a visual report and public (virtual) presentation. Presentations of findings from this research have been programmed into local festivals such as Chinook 2021 and Found Festival 2021 as well as by the Citadel Theatre at their series of exchange panels, marking an innovative approach: programming arts content that focuses on the building and renovating of community networks.

This project impacted many organizations that set the context for theatre practice in Edmonton, Alberta. It resulted in tangible commitments from theatres and institutions such as the Citadel Theatre, Theatre Alberta, Catalyst Theatre, MacEwan University's Drama Department, The University of Alberta's BFA program, and others.

The short-term impacts have been the creation of new mentorship programs for racialized and otherwise marginalised artists, and the adoption of a more collaborative approach to community building and inclusion. Expected medium-term impacts include a higher level of accountability from institutions to establish positive working conditions for the artists they train and/or employ. Expected long-term impacts include an increase in diversity onstage and on creative teams, and policy changes that support artist wellbeing embedded in local theatre practice across the community.

The collaborative, community-based approach of this project and its framework could be adopted in other centres and other artistic disciplines to foster a more inclusive return to post-pandemic art-making, as we all address the racial reckoning that expanded in 2020 with the BLM movement and apply those learnings to our field and sector.

This project also adapted from planned arts-based, in-person research methodologies and was forced to replace those methods with virtual data collection and dissemination. The result is still creative, effective and accessible to the community it meant to communicate with. It also took advantage of the downtime experienced by creatives to engage them in these conversations and financially compensate them for their time while they were unemployed. Reframing the project within the limits of pandemic-ready engagement strategies also allowed the researcher to successfully leverage circumstances that initially appeared to be a barrier.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples, Racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, D/deaf, disabled, or live with difference, Members of official language minority groups
Source: Survey

Link to website

Tupiq A.C.T. (Arctic Circus Troupe)

Kuujjuaq & Montréal, Quebec Project: Circus for social change
Discipline(s): music, theatre, circus

Tupiq A.C.T. (Arctic Circus Troupe) is a non-profit circus company that aims to preserve and promote Inuit culture and traditions. Tupituqaq Creative Process: "The creative process of this Tupituqaq (the old tent) show started with our collective passion for Inuit legends. We met with all of the artists who came to Montreal, decided on a few legends that would fit nicely together, and created a sequence that might give a good story.

Once we settled on a story, we decided on characters, figured out how many artists we needed, thought of the atmosphere and circus disciplines we wanted to showcase. We pieced together how each character would move, how they would talk, what attitude they had. We created each character to have their own personalities inspired by the legends we read.

We assigned everyone a character who would be the most suitable to bring that character to life, and then we started practicing. We had some good friends, and a few new people to help us with our creation, to help us move in different ways, show us how we could tell a different story, to emphasize a movement, work new skills like shadow theatre and give us insight on how the characters would look like in a show setting.

The finalization of the creation was in Inukjuak in March 2020, we spent a week making our characters more complete and working on ways to express our message to promote a healthy lifestyle. On March 13th, the day of the presentation to the community of our creation, the pandemic was declared by the Québec government.

In the midst of a pandemic, we found ways to keep being creative and turned a planned show into the filming of Tupituqaq, thanks to our sturdy partners. This movie was done in a very unique context over about four weeks. Filming took place on the weekends so the artists could continue to attend work and school. Performing while respecting public health policies with procedural masks made things hard for the circus artists to breath properly, made the audio a little harder to hear, and made filming longer because of limited sequential movements. Despite all of the hardships, everyone in the production had an amazing time.

Special impacts:

Tupiq A.C.T in now in the process of finalizing a Pedagogical Package that will accompany, facilitate the screening of the 37 minute digital show. With the support of partner organisations, the tool gives more background cultural and historical information on the characters and storyline of the show and also suggests activities to do in class or in a community organisation set up to encourage storytelling and capacity building on subjects and skills that are addressed in the show. Through this collaborative process, Tupiq ACT is building its network of supporters within Nunavik and its credibility being associated with recognized institutes like Avataq, Makivik and KI in the editing of this tool. This action will allow Tupituqaq to travel not only in the North but hopefully in the whole world!

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Survey

Link to website

actOUT! Kitchener Waterloo Children's Drama Workshop

Waterloo, Ontario Project: actOUT!’s 25th Season
Discipline(s): dance, music, theatre, arts education

Our 25th Season of theatre by & for the Children of the Waterloo Region of Ontario was interrupted by the pandemic. When actOUT! shut down operations on March 13, 2020 we had just finished our run of 'She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition' at the Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre. Disney's 101 Dalmatians KIDS was set to load in the the same space (will young performers ages 6-10 having been in rehearsal since September 2019) and High School Musical JR. was in rehearsal along with our collective creation based on the theme of 'Empathy' known as "The Empathy Project"

As with most of theatre around the world we shut down.

We resurrected our theatre company with a pivot in the fall of 202 to continue our 25th season. High School Musical became a Zoom production, The Empathy Project became BOX: The Empathy Project a production created and performed in Zoom. Other virtual productions including an 'Advanced Actors' (older members of the company) production of an hour long radio play: Sherlock Holmes.

Special impacts:

Pivoting younger performers to the online world presents its own unique challenges. Consider the difficulties of actors becoming their own grips, gaffers, and cinematographers and then consider the age of the performer as pre-teen.

Source: Survey

Link to website

ALAVIVA

Québec, Quebec Project: Maelström créatif: joindre l’utile à l’agréable
Discipline(s): museums and galleries, music, reading, writing, publishing, theatre, visual arts

Stimuler et briser l'isolement des aînés en les connectant à des acteurs culturels grâce à des robots de téléprésence et à une plateforme d'intermédiation sociale et culturelle.

Special impacts:

Connecter les aînés aux artistes et professionnels de la culture permettra d'améliorer la qualité de vie des premiers tout en ouvrant de nouvelles possibilités de travail pour les second. Les bienfaits de la culture sur la santé sont maintenant reconnus. Rencontres sympathiques, médiation culturelle, création artistique, art-thérapie... La solution permet le rapprochement des gens malgré la grandeur du territoire.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Créations In Vivo

Ottawa, Ontario Project: Artistes aux 4 coins virtuel
Discipline(s): theatre

Artistes aux 4 coins (A4C), c’est notre programme d’atelier dans les écoles secondaires à travers l’Ontario. Avec la pandémie de la covid-19 qui sévit depuis 2020, l’équipe a créé des capsules vidéo pour aider les enseignant.e.s et les adolescent.e.s à avoir accès à de la formation artistique, même en virtuel! Au programme: des capsules sur le conte, le cirque et la poésie/slam.

Special impacts:

L’équipe a su garder une curiosité et s’est lancée dans la création vidéo qui n’est pas vraiment leur zone de confort côté technique. Les profs et les ados de la province entière aiment beaucoup avoir accès à ce contenu, alors qu’il ne semblait pas possible d’inviter des artistes à l’école. L’équipe a vraiment trouvé une façon d’aller à leur rencontre ! Et par le fait même, à offrir des contrats aux interprètes de théâtre de la région.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, Soulpepper Theatre and Artists for Real Climate Action

Toronto, Ontario Project: Green Sessions
Discipline(s): dance, music, theatre, multidisciplinary

We are reaching out digitally to our community across Canada to learn, educate and take action on shifting public opinion towards meaningful action on climate change issues. As stated above it is a cross Canada event so the designations below are not strictly accurate.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples, Racialized, D/deaf, disabled, or live with difference
Source: Survey

Ottawa Fringe Festival

Ottawa, Ontario Project: Undercurrents
Discipline(s): festivals, media arts, theatre, multidisciplinary

The goal of the project was to make original, contemporary performances with local artists. Undercurrents budgeted conservatively, but were blown away by the amount of support. They received just shy of 15, 000$ in revenue, and an additional 850$ in donations.

Special impacts:

Undercurrents presented 6 shows which were a mix of live-streamed and pre-recorded performances, as well as an audio drama and a performance that took place entirely through an app. Undercurrents used a pay what you can format for ticketing where patrons could choose tickets at 5$, 20$, 50$, 75$ and 100$. They expected ticket sale numbers to be mostly 5$ tickets, however, 5$ tickets only made up 36% of the sales (compared to 50% in 2020). This pay structure allowed Undercurrents to be much more accessible to the public.

Source: Survey

Link to website

The Cultch

Vancouver, British Columbia Project: Transform Cabaret, Pivoting to Digital
Discipline(s): theatre

The Cultch pivoted to digital in a number of ways, and did some great work with Transform Cabaret as well as their general digital pivot.

Special impacts:

Sustainability, Digital Pivoting

Source: Research

Link to website

Burlington Student Theatre

Burlington, Ontario Project: The Virtual Millie Project
Discipline(s): dance, music, theatre

This project enabled students of Burlington Student Theatre to present their production of Thoroughly Modern Millie despite public health measures. In a normal year, several dozen high school aged students are given the opportunity to stage a full-scale musical at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. With live theatre cancelled in the first wave of the pandemic, staff at Student Theatre had to find a way to make the show go on. The Virtual Millie Project was born. Students rehearsed at home, and performed at home. The performances were edited together into a full-scale Zoom-only musical, which was later shown on the big screen as part of a Student Theatre Film Festival at the Centre, when restrictions were partially lifted in fall 2020. Students recorded a podcast to document the Project. Despite the pandemic, the show did indeed go on, giving students, staff, families, and the community a bright light in the midst of the early months of the pandemic.

Special impacts:

Staff and students - including staff who accepted honoraria in lieu of payment - shifted gears from live to video theatre on a dime. Students’ human rights to education, to expression and to play were safeguarded through the efforts of the Student Theatre team. The Virtual Millie Project was a testament to resilience, tenacity, and love in a local child-focused theatre program.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance

Toronto (base); national scope, Ontario Project: Tech Bundles: Enhancing cultural sovereignty through technical infrastructure
Discipline(s): theatre, dance, music

Created a technical infrastructure to encourage cultural sovereignty, create training and mentorship opportunities, and develop wider engagement in the arts sector for emerging and mid-career Indigenous artists. Also produced a very successful digital festival that livestreamed artists on YouTube. They had a thoughtful approach in term of their process; they had a dedicated tech person coaching each of the artists ahead of the livestream.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Research

Link to website

Oliver Hockenhull

Sooke, British Columbia Project: A House Made of Dawn
Discipline(s): theatre, arts education

This collection of philosophical and creative works reflecting on digital aesthetics was produced during the pandemic.

Source: Canadian Network for Arts and Learning

Link to website

Ptarmigan Ptheatrics

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories Project: Waiting for COVID to be Over Festival
Discipline(s): theatre, festivals

Festival in 4 parts: Our Favourite Sounds, Let's Read, Intro to Lighting Desgin Workshop and Step-in-time.

Special impacts:

Mixture of online and in-person.

Source: Research

Link to website

Nicole Bauberger

Whitehorse, Yukon Project: Dalton Trail Trail Gallery
Discipline(s): dance, museums and galleries, music, reading, writing, publishing, theatre, visual arts, multidisciplinary

From March 2020 on, Whitehorse (Yukon Territory) based multi-disciplinary artist Nicole Bauberger created the Dalton Trail Trail Gallery using disregarded brush along the path just off her backyard as gallery spaces. Motivated by the constraints imposed by the pandemic, the Dalton Trail Trail Gallery opened the day after art galleries and the city’s other cultural spaces closed due to COVID-19. Since then, the ‘gallery’ has provided safe and accessible opportunities for diverse audiences, including casual unsuspecting folks just walking by (e.g., cyclists and moms with strollers) and intentional show goers (e.g., the city’s arts and culture audience hungry to attend a live show).

Special impacts:

The story is impactful and innovative in part because of the manner in which Nicole pivoted almost immediately following the closure of typical exhibit and performance space. She saw a way to provide a space where folks could go to safely experience art and performance, and enjoy the company of other audience members, all the while maintaining a 2 metre distance – together/apart. Exhibits and performances on the trail have been diverse and are ongoing, and include Civil Twilight performances (poetry readings which were also broadcast live via Facebook), a dance performance with a canoe at -35 degrees Celsius (ooooh to witness the steam rise off the dancer lying in the canoe in the snow!), and Nakai Theatre’s Pivot Festival opening event, RavenMonsterDress, where over 100 audience members gathered on a frozen pond at the end of the Gallery and listened to music performed on small islands speckled across the pond, while viewing the festival’s opening exhibit. The discussion around what is exhibit space, and how to diversify the audience our work attracts, as well as how to engage community are now part of a community discussion here and will have long-lasting impacts on how to present art and engage (new) audiences – including those who are not intentional audiences ‘going to a show’ but because an audience member just by being where they are, and at the show circumstantially.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Black Fly

Vancouver, British Columbia Project: Titus andronicus digital adaptation
Discipline(s): theatre

Already did a presentation of this by having artists record their parts and send them in to produce the piece, but ran into some minor technical issues. They are attempting again this fall with their learnings applied.

Special impacts:

Adapating theatre to digital, learning and sharing learnings

Source: Research

Link to website

Place des Arts

Coquitlam, British Columbia Project: Online Transition: year-long children’s group music programs
Discipline(s): music, theatre, visual arts, arts education

Our year-long children’s group music programs continued with pre-recorded classes which were sent to the parents. With the entire province in lockdown mode, we understood how important it was to provide our students with an outlet for self-expression. Supporting our self-employed teachers and artists through teaching and exhibiting opportunities continued to be a priority for us.

Special impacts:

pre-recorded, virtual classes, free video content, perofmrances, online exhibitions, ceramics at home

Source: Research

Link to website

Centre des arts d'Edmundston

Edmundston, New Brunswick Project: Plan de relance du secteur culturel
Discipline(s): dance, festivals, libraries, media arts, museums and galleries, music, reading, writing, publishing, theatre, visual arts

À peine trois mois après le début de la pandémie, le Centre des arts à initié une consultation publique de la communauté artistique pour assurer la relance du secteur culturel (arts, patrimoine, événements).

Special impacts:

Suite aux consultations publiques, une feuille de route a été développée, permettant ainsi d'identifier des axes stratégiques et des initiatives prioritaires pour la communauté culturelle. Le plan a aussi permit de rassembler de nombreux partenaires non-culturels pour appuyer la relance. Sans cette approche de concertation, il aurait été impossible de mettre en oeuvre tant de nouvelles initiatives. Notre secteur culturel est maintenant plus vivant que jamais.

Equity seeking: Members of official language minority groups
Source: Survey

Link to website

INCIRQUE (Kyle Sipkens)

Toronto, Ontario Project: Juggling Mental Health
Discipline(s): festivals, theatre, multidisciplinary, circus

Juggling Mental Health offers free online juggling tutorials that also support mental health.

Special impacts:

Through COVID lockdowns, 4 out of 5 people experienced a decline in their mental health - including anxiety and depression. Before COVID, that number was 1 in 5 people.

Kyle Sipkens is a professional street performer who realized each time he was juggling, it was helping his anxiety and depression. Juggling is more than an artistic skill, it increases brain matter and is a great anxiety coping strategy!

When the province put out a call for ideas to support mental health support, Kyle decided to create a video series of juggling lessons that also teach coping skills for anxiety or low mood.

While the project didn't receive any grant support, the need for mental health support was urgently needed. So Kyle and his partner Jake produced a free-to-use video series on youtube, facebook, and instagram to use Circus Arts to both entertain and support health of anyone (particularly in remote areas) with internet access to connect through juggling, and add a "tool" to their "tool box" for personal resilience.

Equity seeking: 2SLGBTQIA+, D/deaf, disabled, or live with difference
Source: Survey

Link to website

rice & beans theatre

Vancouver, British Columbia Project: rice & beans theatre: Yellow Objects
Discipline(s): theatre
Read the story

The exhibition will take patrons through the theatre to the Firehall’s courtyard, and be limited to ten patrons per showing. There will be no live performers – only objects, voice recordings, and projections. Over the twelve-day exhibition, there will be a total of fifty showings, each forty minutes in length. Between each showing, the venue will be sanitized as per COVID-19 protocols.

Equity seeking: Racialized
Source: Research

Link to website

Edmonton Fringe Festival

Edmonton, Alberta Project: FringeTV
Discipline(s): theatre

Introduced Fringe TV

Special impacts:

Exciting response to the pandemic. Broad impacts.

Source: Research

Link to website

STEPS Public Art

Toronto, Ontario Project: INsiders
Discipline(s): dance, media arts, museums and galleries, theatre, visual arts, multidisciplinary

In the beginning of April, STEPS Public Art facilitated a national call for artists to create temporary public artworks in public-facing parts of their homes, gardens, balconies or courtyards. STEPS believed that during the pandemic, while we may be physically distanced, our desire to create, share and learn will always connect us together.

Artists were asked to consider the idea of public space and their sudden lack of access to it, exploring their public-facing private spaces and how the surrounding community could engage from a distance with their creative projects. We received an overwhelming response of 120 submissions in only two weeks.

STEPS supported ten artists from across Canada to bring eight projects to life. INsiders projects are diverse, ranging in materials and approaches from a front yard concert series with immersive set and costume design to an infinity room located in an empty storefront window that invites the public to both respond to and engage with an oversized COVID-19 disco ball. Selected artists represent both established and emerging practitioners and include Olivia and Hilary Wheeler (Victoria, BC), Michel Dumont (Thunder Bay, ON), Whyishnave Suthagar (Toronto, ON), Anna Camilleri (Toronto, ON) Somewherelse Collective (Toronto, ON), Taylor Boileau Davidson (Ottawa, ON), Tara Arnst (Lunenburg, NS), and Suzi Oram and Jordan Strong (Sydney, NS).

Special impacts:

INsiders was STEPS’ response to the Covd-19 pandemic, with a sole focus directed towards supporting artists, connecting communities and exploring public space during this uncertain time. The arts and culture communities are some of the hardest hit during the pandemic, with many artists, arts workers and producers suddenly out of work. Through INsiders, STEPS seeks to amplify the creative work taking place in public space across Canada. We continue to support artists to reimagine their communities over the pandemic recovery period.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples, Racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, D/deaf, disabled, or live with difference, Members of official language minority groups
Source: Survey

Link to website

Stage Page / Performing Arts Assembly

Toronto, Ontario Project: “Artemis” Recommender System for performing arts event
Discipline(s): theatre, dance, music

Formed "Performing Arts Assembly" to bring artists and creates of genre-defying performing arts with Dr. Daniela Rosu (computer scientist) to begin creating data models ("information representation standards") that can offer an alternative to the "engineer worldview" in the world of technology creation. Tech innovation with a developing business model.

Source: Research

Link to website

New Brunswick Drama Festival

Fredericton, New Brunswick Project: Online pivot
Discipline(s): theatre, arts education

Online pivot; created virtual resources; guiding teachers and students through the process of creating their own plays

Source: Research

Link to website

INCIRQUE (Kyle Sipkens)

Toronto base, operating throughout Southern Ontario., Ontario Project: Physical Distancing Officers
Discipline(s): festivals, theatre, multidisciplinary, circus

"Physical Distancing Officers" adapted INCIRQUE's roaming Stilt walking characters to support Business Improvement Area's, Malls, Farmers Markets, and open air events.

Special impacts:

For BIA's, Malls, and communities where small businesses were severely impacted by closures during COVID, these "Physical Distancing Officers" used Clowning to promote distancing, alleviate anxiety for visitors returning to public space, educate visitors on protocols, and encourage safe ways to connect.

These Stilt characters were highly visible, supported crowd management, and used principles similar to therapeutic clowning to help rebuild communities and support small business.

This service won a 2021 Service Excellence Award from Festivals & Events Ontario!

Equity seeking: 2SLGBTQIA+, D/deaf, disabled, or live with difference
Source: Survey

Link to website

YouthLEADarts

Richmond, British Columbia Project: Online Program to Address Racism
Discipline(s): theatre, arts education

YouthLEADarts created a two week on-line program on racism that took place for 1.5 hours a day.

Source: Canadian Network for Arts and Learning

Link to website

Sheridan College

Oakville, Ontario Project: Arts degree program remote pivot
Discipline(s): media arts, theatre, visual arts

When the pandemic forced the closure of post-secondary campuses across North America, faculty in Sheridan's Illustration and Music Theatre degree programs needed to quickly find ways to still deliver quality learning experiences online. The Illustration program found a way to teach drawing — a skill that had always been taught through in-person observation — remotely via a multiple-camera setup that provided multiple views of form. Meanwhile, the Music Theatre program quickly pivoted from in-person rehearsals to Zoom in order to continue workshopping of a musical and ultimately produced a recording of the musical's opening number that featured every student in the cast.

Special impacts:

Both the Illustration and Music Theatre degree programs thought quickly, creatively and innovatively to provide valuable and meaningful learning experiences in a remote environment. In Illustration's case, students were given a unique experience that prepared them for remote work in the future, and faculty learned ways that technology could complement their studio settings even after program delivery returns to an in-person format. Music Theatre's ability to pivot to remote rehearsals within 10 days of the suspension of in-person learning enabled the advancement of a new Canadian musical while providing students and staff with artistic satisfaction, unique experience and new perspective on how online rehearsal could be a valuable tool in the future shaping of theatre.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Highland Arts Theatre

Sydney, Nova Scotia Project: Radical Access
Discipline(s): theatre

Presenter fundraising to make all performances free for everyone

Special impacts:

Created a whole new revenue model.

Source: Research

Link to website

Capitol Theatre Restoration Society

Nelson, British Columbia Project: HOMEGROWN
Discipline(s): dance, music, theatre

Goal: to continue to engage patrons and the public by providing music, theatre and other online events to the local community, region and beyond. To showcase diverse local/regional emerging and professional artists who usually would not be on the Capitol Theatre stage.

Special impacts:

The pandemic opened up the opportunity to explore online dissemination of theatre, dance and music.We will most likely continue with HOMEGROWN and hybrid presentations to reach audiences that cannot attend the theatre and thus increase access to events on stage.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Fredericton Playhouse

Fredericton, New Brunswick Project: InterMISSION Residency Program: Respond first, finetune later
Discipline(s): dance, media arts, music, theatre, multidisciplinary

During COVID, we took the extended closure of the Fredericton Playhouse as an opportunity to collaborate with artists to develop and celebrate our local arts community. We adapted to the restrictions in mass gatherings by designing and executing InterMISSION (https://www.theplayhouse.ca/intermission/), a highly successful program of artistic residencies that allowed local performing artists to work and hone their craft, without audiences, in the Playhouse. Sixty-five artists, mentors, and videographers were paid to use our stage, equipment, and expertise in a series of twelve theatre, music, dance, and other creative residencies between September 2020 and March 2021.

Thanks to funding from the City of Fredericton, the Province of New Brunswick, the Fredericton Community Foundation, the government of Canada, and more than 75 private donors, InterMISSION provided much-needed financial assistance and a creative outlet for local performing artists and experts while their careers were on hold.

Special impacts:

InterMISSION was a resounding success. Our resident artists have been incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with our superbly experienced sound and lighting technical team, in our professional facility, with expert training from mentors with whom many of them have long sought to work. By supporting the artistic community in Fredericton and across New Brunswick during a time when most artists were out of work, this program created a positive social impact in our community by improving the mental health and quality of human life for not only the program participants but also the people who will share in the magic of their inspirational performances in the months and years to come. We aim to continue this program in future years and expand the engagement the Playhouse has with the artistic community in our region.

Source: Survey

Link to website

Zuppa Theatre Co.

Halifax, Nova Scotia Project: Collection of Innovative Shows
Discipline(s): theatre, arts education

Zuppa Theatre created a collection of innovative shows during the lockdown with community and school partnerships.

Source: Canadian Network for Arts and Learning

Link to website