INNOVATION & RESILIENCE
IN CANADA’S CULTURAL SECTOR

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

Vancouver Mural Festival

Vancouver, British Columbia Project: #MakeArtWhileApart
Discipline(s): festivals, visual arts

Over 6 weeks in April-May 2020, Vancouver Mural Festival teamed up with local artists, Business Associations, Vancity Credit Union, City of Vancouver and Goodbye Graffiti to create temporary murals on storefronts boarded up (to avoid break-ins and looting) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The result was 60 incredible murals to inspire hope, brighten streets, celebrate resilience and connect communities. With stores reopened, most murals have been removed and re-purposed.

Special impacts:

VMF and local artists transformed our downtown core from apocalyptic-feeling to inspirational with a coat of paint -- demonstrating the true power of public art and collaboration. When local businesses and local governments understand to the power of colour and creativity in public, we can move quickly and wear our shared cultures, values and pride on the outside. While importantly -- ensuring artists are well compensated for their skills and contributions.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples, Racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+
Source: Survey

Link to website

Carving On The Edge Festival

Tofino, British Columbia Project: Community-centred digital practices in a remote and Indigenous context
Discipline(s): visual arts

Digitized the festival as a result of the pandemic and reframed the way they think of themselves as an organization in the process. From their website: "It is our commitment to cultural bridge-building, supporting growth in the carving community and understanding the coastal traditions of carving that keep us focussed and inspired."

Special impacts:

The festival has grown to support relationship-building in the contemporary and traditional carving communities, with programs led by master carvers, and guided by First Nations values, blending tradition and history with contemporary relevance.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Research

Link to website

Hartmanns Community Centre

King Lake, Ontario Project: The Matter of Houghton Township
Discipline(s): multidisciplinary

It was a Y2K restart of a mid 18th century ballad archiving project with a original intent to preserve the culture and social artistic fabric of the people and land of Houghton Twp,Norfolk County.Its morphed over two decades to provide a accessible technology artform for viually impaired Canadian seniors living in long term care homes.

Special impacts:

After much revisions and experimentation the Matter of Houghton Township surfaced as a tactile graphics metaphorical Holocaust fairytale for 200 residents of Milton's Allendale Long Term Care.The life enrichment video technology is called Excaliber/Caliburn 5959 and is art for long term care residents to experience.The first of its kind with a aging blind woman in Allendale acting as Producer.In simple stark terms,it keeps old people alive.

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

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

SQx Dance Company (Trading), SQx Danza (Registered)

South Slocan (Regional District of Central Kootenay, RDCK, Area I). Castlegar is our postal address., British Columbia Project: Active Inclusion Program and creative techniques for online performances
Discipline(s): dance

1. AIP--A new socially conscious dance program--created to disrupt discrimination, intolerance, hate, & racism as a method for increasing awareness about:
-Canada's cultural diversity
-Issues affecting underrepresented populations in fully participating in society

DIGITAL ARCHITECTURE
-10 minute opening video performance
—Warm-Up
—Group Physical Engagement with e-book about the LANGUAGE OF CHOREOLOGY (see below) to raise awareness about how FUNCTIONAL HUMAN MOVEMENT can disrupt or promote negative BEHAVIOURS, ROUTINES, & BELIEFS
—SQx PHRASES & CREATIVE CLASS where participants devise & embodying short phrases
—Discussions
—Final Day: 10 minute closing STOP-ACTION VIDEO PERFORMANCE

Year 3 will culminate in a FINAL PUBLIC POLICY PAPER, which we'll use to lobby for Arts Education curricular augmentation. This will CREATE RESEARCH & EVIDENCE TO BUILD UNDERSTANDING OF THE DISPARITIES & CHALLENGES FACED BY RACIALIZED & RELIGIOUS MINORITY COMMUNITIES, & INDIGENOUS PEOPLES.

[We are currently in the midst of Year 2. This project was intended to be delivered in-person, but COVID derailed all of our plans. It has only ever been delivered virtually).

INSTRUCTIONAL HOURS/PARTICIPANT: 3-5 days x 75 minutes/day

SEE ATTACHED FOR VISION IMPACT SNAPSHOTS OF AIP & STAFF.

2. 3 Online Performances (below are excerpts): we're waiting for Canada Council funds to finish the works...funding pending. Each work will be about 45 min.

Canadian Identity Dance
https://vimeo.com/542825999
Password = identity

Light Dance
https://vimeo.com/542916401
Password = light

The Good Heart
https://vimeo.com/534673758
Password = goodheart1

https://vimeo.com/534683592
Password = goodheart2

-Productions of contemporary dance works that was originally intended to be a live-performances.
-Dissemination of the works will be entirely by virtual means ensuring the art is finished in a timely and safe manner, and we can provide work for artists in this especially precarious time.

We’re TAKING THE GENRE IN A NEW DIRECTION by working as we would in the studio in the development of choreography, but we're doing it safely at home. LEARNING TO ADAPT OUR ARTISTIC PRACTICE FOR REMOTE CREATION BECAUSE OF COVID ensures we can SUSTAINABLY create new work for as long as there are health restrictions.

STRATEGIC DISSEMINATION PLAN is a KEY UNDERLYING OBJECTIVE because how we intend to share the works is influenced by how we're making it—because of COVID. We intend to continue to meet our target audiences in NEW DIGITAL WAYS:
-PAY-PER-VIEW: With existing VIMEOPro on our website (ecommerce is already integrated for others uses on site).
-STREAMED from presenters (when theatres open). We're working with our local presenters to reach audiences safely.

SEE ATTACHED STAFF IMPACT SNAPSHOT.

TARGET POPULATIONS OF ALL OF OUR WORKS
-minoritized language groups (we deliver in French & English)
-minoritized ethnic groups & religions
-Indigenous communities
-remote & rural communities
-inner-cities (particularly those with high occurrences of gangs)
-newcomers
-LGBTQIA2S+
-people of diverse abilities
-multi-barriered populations

Special impacts:

REMOTE PRODUCTION STRATEGY: Some of the artists have met in person in previous work, because of COVID, we've never all met as a group. For the past year, we have worked completely remotely and created some of the best work the organization has ever created.
-COVID restrictions were an opportunity to deepen the aesthetics of our work.
-We used the distance between us as inspiration to showcase the diversity in Canadian communities & landscapes.

CAPACITY: We more than doubled the artists that work for the organization. We've also doubled our organization budget. Whilst other organizations are making cuts, we are increasing spending, and increasing renumeration to artists. We're creating more work, and better serving vulnerable populations.

BLENDED VALUE: How we balance the social and cultural value of our work in performances, programming, and policy initiatives. OUR MISSION: Use contemporary dance to promote kinship, collaboration, teamwork.OUR MANDATE
-Further the development of dance & public engagement through performance & outreach programming.
-Provide flexible touring series for arts venues, schools, conservatories to bring performances & interactive programming to both large & small communities.
-Use dance to make the world a better place.

REACHING OUR AUDIENCE IN NEW WAYS: Our dissemination plans will allow us to meet our audience in NEW DIGITAL WAYS by using multiple strategies (pay-per-view, streaming, & interactive programming).

GREEN MOBILITY: We’re using travel restrictions as a method to explore new sustainable benefits for touring that rely less on mileage on more on greener practices. Pre-COVID multiple vehicles would travel more than 50,000 KM / year to distribute our work. We're fundamentally adjusting what and how we are making art, so WHEN THE PANDEMIC IS OVER, WE ARE NOT MEERLY UNFREEZING, WE'VE DEVELOPED A NEW PLAN TO CREATE & DISSEMINATE OUR ART THAT WILL BALANCE IN-PERSON INTERACTION WITH ONLINE. WE WILL NOT BE RETURNING TO IN-PERSON PROGRAMMING UNTIL 2023 AT THE EARLIEST AS WE HAVE HAD SO MUCH SUCCESS VIRTUALLY, AND WE CONTINUE TO GROW THESE STRATEGIES. WE WILL NOT RETURN IN-PERSON UNTIL IT IS PERFECTLY SAFE TO DO SO.

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

Link to website

East End Arts

Toronto, Ontario Project: Doorstop Diaries, Anti-Oppression Bookclub, BYOBeads
Discipline(s): community arts

Highly impactful, local, innovative: Seniors online art diary. Book club addressing BLM and BIPOC readings and discussions. Partnership with Indigenous organization for online beading circle.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Research

Link to website

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Pimadjiwowinogamig

Maniwaki, Quebec Project: Virtual Pivot Internally, Chance to Archive
Discipline(s): heritage

With the ongoing pandemic, the Cultural Centre closed, and staff worked from home until mid-August. Despite these challenges, staff managed to enter collections into the database, photograph archaeological artifacts, catch up on administrative work and keep the gift shop going through email, e-transfer and curbside pickup. Despite not having access to internet at home, one of our employees still managed to attend Zoom meetings. If the meeting was lengthy, they would sit in their vehicle, outside the Centre using its Wifi. Our dedicated staff continued to persevere despite new challenges posed by not being able to gather in-person. The Language Department entered Anishinabemowin into CAN8, an online language learning website specializing in oral production. Photographs and sounds of nature were recorded to create our own royalty free material. They also maintained translation services and created language clips posted to Facebook and Instagram.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Capital Heritage Connexion

Link to website

City of Markham's Public Art Program

Markham, Ontario Project: Becoming Public Art: Working Models and Case Studies for Art in Public
Discipline(s): museums and galleries, visual arts

“Becoming Public Art: Working Models and Case Studies for Art in Public” is a nine-week virtual summit co-curated by Markham’s Public Art Curator Yan Wu and Principle of ART+PUBLIC UnLtd Rebecca Carbin. Conceived in the context of the City’s recently approved “Public Art Master Plan 2020-2024,” the summit aims to develop resources for those interested in the practice of contemporary public art, from the maker to the producer, from professionals of the field to general public. Initially planned as a three-day in-person event—including indoor presentations and discussions, outdoor guided public art tours, temporary installation, performance, and screening—in June 2020, due to the impact of COVID, the summit had to reconfigure itself swiftly and creatively into an online format with comparably dynamic content. After a few experiments of similar but smaller programs over the summer and a follow-up audience survey, the curators came up with the current model of presentation: weekly live webinars combined with bi-weekly publishing of written interviews and a constantly updated archival website.

In a series of online lectures, panel discussions, and interviews, an esteemed international group of 46 participants (artists, architects, curators, fabricators, planners, and administrators) present the broad range of perspectives that shape public art making today. Framed by current discussions happening at the intersection of contemporary art, public realm issues and urbanism, the summit features working models and case studies that address the challenges and opportunities faced by those working in this constantly evolving field. The entire program was free to the public.

Over the course of nine weeks, close to 1500 people attended the live webinars and the program has developed 800 followers who has subscribed to the summit newsletters. The audience includes artists and designers, curators and art consultants, administrators from other municipalities both local and international, government agencies, and cultural institutes, university researchers and educators, art students, and general public who is interested in the topic.

Special impacts:

Unfolding over the course of nine weeks, from October 13 through December 8, 2020, the core of “Becoming Public Art” is a series of nine webinars, taking place weekly on Tuesdays from 1:30 p.m. through 3 p.m. Each session was broadcast live through Zoom webinar. All programs are free and open to the public. Registration was required. Focusing on in-depth presentations and discussions on specific case studies and working models, the webinars were developed under nine themes in response to the present state of public art production, starting from Ken Lum’s keynote lecture on public artist as a working model itself, followed by Collaborative Process, A Civic Role for Artists, Art and Urban Planning, Accessibility, Placemaking and Public Art, Site-Specificity and Public Art, Temporary Programming, and The Digital Turn in Public Art. Recordings of all the sessions are made available on the project website, with subtitles.

In parallel with the live broadcast, four online interview series—"What is a Public Art Master Plan?”, “Public Art and City Planning”, “Public Art on Campus”, and “Public Art on Transit”—were launched through five summit newsletters, delivered to the subscribers on a bi-weekly basis. The newsletters also serve as the platform for the presenters to answer the questions that were not able to be covered during live sessions.

The project website is intentionally designed as a living archive—not only to document the entire summit, but an on-going online database for anyone who is interested in the production of art in public. We were told by some colleagues that they had used the summit as learning materials for internal discussion and team building activities. At least eight universities around the world have used the summit as teaching materials in related courses and programs.

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

Graham A. Brown

Vancouver, British Columbia Project: COVID19 ART CHALLENGE
Discipline(s): media arts, reading, writing, publishing, visual arts, multidisciplinary

The goal from the very outset was to keep the art group at Barclay Manor connected during the lock-down.

Special impacts:

The COVID19 ART CHALLENGE, may not be that innovated but it is important for the small group of senior artist to keep in touch even if they do not submit a work of art for that weeks newsletter as of now July 13, I am getting the Week 40 underway, yes that is 40 weeks we have been sending this art challenge to our members. But that is not totally true we have attracted some poets and haiku writers to participate. Over the last 40 weeks I have seen a different side of the artist, and poets submissions. For some they have become more expressive allowing their inner ideas to come to the surface, and come out of their comfort circle and for a few this also means going across their cultural boarders. Having the distance helps. And for many seniors the acknowledgement that they have something to contribute.
For other artist they could learn what is most important the why they create, and do they have the courage to expose themselves.
At times you only hear me screaming yes when I see what a member has done, that brakes their comfort level. Let the bells ring out, for they have made this all worthwhile.

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

Link to website

Small World Music

Toronto, Ontario Project: Small World Music 2020-2021
Discipline(s): festivals, music

This is less the story of a project, per se, but of the way our overall work evolved over the pandemic period. We expanded our org and our impact - arguably in ways that would have taken us many years to do, if we did it at all.

SWM is dedicated to connecting and working with and for artists, audiences, organizations, and professionals from equity-deserving communities. That happens through live events (annual festival, concerts across the Toronto area), as well as through our subsidized venue/studio (SWCentre), our artist development program for newcomer/refugee/emerging artists (eMERGEnce), our international showcase/conference (Global Toronto) and related outbound efforts to international events (Going Global), and being a resource to the various communities we serve.

Special impacts:

With the pandemic, we had a bleak first several weeks, like many organizations - to say nothing of the artist communities we were designed to serve. But through partnerships - with presenters such as Music Together, the National Arts Centre, Humber College, and many others - we were able to take advantage of both our growing network of artists/orgs and our Small World Centre, which continued to be enhanced with upgraded tech and gear to find performance opportunities beyond having folks set up their phone cams in their living rooms (though we also helped with that).
Until Ontario locked us out of the venue for most of the first half of 2021, we'd recorded/broadcast over 100 performances from the SW Centre for a range of artists from inside and outside the SW 'family', offering high-quality production and recording for a hugely subsidized rate.
Our artist development program for newcomer/refugee/emerging artists benefited from the re-think of the program already underway when things shut down. The online pivot of the program proved essential to the mental/emotional health and wellbeing of the cohort of 23 musicians; we continued, too, to offer professional development activities that will help their career. We were able to host some jam sessions - an essential part of the program - in the Centre, and 6 new bands developed; they, and other bands the cohort led, were the focus of our 2020 SW Festival, giving them an opportunity we never planned but will continue to affect the future of our work. All along, we sought the program participants' guidance to ensure we were on the right path together. Our next Cohort will benefit from this work.
Our conference, Global Toronto, also benefited from the re-think. Rather than doing it as usual (fly in a couple dozen delegates, put together meetings, the occasional panel), we leaned hard into the guidance we received from the global community of contacts, colleagues, friends, and counterparts, hosting consult sessions that told us we had an opportunity with Global Toronto to make an impact not just for the showcasing artists but for the sector. Participants of the event, which went online in late July, before most other conferences on the calendar, gave us incredible feedback. From feeling safe to share hard talk and experiences - unprecedented in the conference context - to a sense of a real international community, we were dubbed an 'activist conference' with the goal of making change in the industry, building an accessible, sustainable, and equitable sector.

There is more but I'll stop there, except to say we pride ourselves on our energy and desire to serve the community of artists, organizations, and professionals from equity-deserving communities and continue to find ways of making a difference despite (because of) the challenges faced as a result of the pandemic.

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

Link to website

ReeVay (Marc Rivest)

Vancouver, British Columbia Project: The Fall of Troy
Discipline(s): music

"The Fall of Troy" is the debut album from singer/songwriter ReeVay. This project tells the story of 2020 through the eyes of its writer; everything from the WWIII scare in January to spending Christmas in quarantine. The main goal of this album is to highlight the common factors of our pandemic experiences with a central message of unity during troubled times. The album began production in June 2021 and is expecting a late 2021 release.

Special impacts:

This story is impactful due to its theme of unity during troubled times. 2020 has been an incredibly strange year and many people have felt isolated and alone. Despite everyone feeling this way, it is rarely talked about due to attached social stigmas. By writing this record, I hope to start a dialogue about these issues and remind listeners that we truly are "all in this together" even in post-pandemic times.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples, Racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+
Source: Survey

Link to website

Alianait Festival

Iqaluit, Nunavut Project: Online Festival: Working through a rapid shift in landscape
Discipline(s): festivals

Northern festival (Nunavut) that successfully pivoted to online programming. In 2020, the Alianait team formulated an innovative plan, inspired by the success of their 2019 online experiences. Adapting through pandemic restrictions, Alianait decided to take their festival fully online for the first time ever.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Research

Link to website

The Canadian Design Resource

Toronto, Ontario Project: The Canadian Design Resource
Discipline(s): museums and galleries, design

We managed to completely rebrand and run a series of focus groups and user zoom calls - something we struggled w before the pandemic. The time out allowed us to regroup and really dig into our audience.

Special impacts:

We are the main hub for the creative community in Canada - we needed to get out front and listen to our fans. This process will continue after the pandemic. The lessons to share are many...but the main ones were to use this time to shift and get forward leaning, build tools to listen to your community, and to connect with makers who can help create new products and experiences.

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

Link to website

Romeo Honorio

Calgary, Alberta Project: Covid-19 Fundemic
Discipline(s): libraries, reading, writing, publishing, visual arts

A manuscript/book (poems, illustrations, sayings, wit, humor, musings, reflections and contemplations) dedicated to all frontline and healthcare workers.

Special impacts:

The book advocated for the declaration (as Covid-19 Pandemic Heroes) recognition and appreciation of frontline and healthcare workers (held on Dec 20, 2020 in Calgary)

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

Link to website

STEPS Public Art

Toronto, Ontario Project: CreateSpace BIPOC Public Art Residency
Discipline(s): libraries, media arts, museums and galleries, reading, writing, publishing, visual arts, multidisciplinary

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed inequalities that leave out marginalized peoples and voices, particularly within public spaces. While STEPS has been dedicated to providing opportunities for these voices in regular programming, we saw an opportunity to further these efforts. Over the last 10 years in the field and through our participation on many public art selection committees, we have witnessed the disproportionate disadvantage that Black, Indigenous and other artists of colour have had in accessing large-scale public art opportunities. These opportunities begin with access to small to midsize portfolio building commissions. Our CreateSpace BIPOC Public Art Residency offers its participants real world opportunities and experiences in creating public art works from conception through to realization. Through this unique program, STEPS celebrates creativity, diversity and inclusion through public art. CreateSpace builds the capacity of emerging BIPOC artists through a combination of technical skills training, targeted mentorships and networking.

Special impacts:

In 2020 STEPS launched CreateSpace, a national public art residency program providing emerging Black, Indigenous and racialized artists with the skills, relationships and practical experience needed to foster and develop skills in lasting public art practices. CreateSpace was open to early to mid-career Canadian-based visual and media artists working in public space. In total, ten artists were chosen from across Canada by a review panel composed of BIPOC members of the Canadian arts community. This first of kind program offered participants skill building, relationship fostering and networking opportunities, practical public art making experiences, introductions to new audiences and financial support.

As this is the pilot year of a multi-year program, the 2022 CreateSpace BIPOC Public Art Residency will build off the successes of its first year. The program strives to not only support individual artists, but to foster connections and cultivate conversation around social equity in city-building and design. It will foster solidarity amongst artists working in diverse contexts; between artists and their own communities, while also inspiring broader dialogue on representation in city-building processes.

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

Arts Council Wood Buffalo & St. Aidan's Society

Fort McMurray, Alberta Project: Art of Conversation
Discipline(s): media arts, music, reading, writing, publishing, visual arts

From May to December 2020, artists engaged in conversations over the phone with seniors or Elders. The artists created new pieces of art using that conversation as their muse. Arts Council Wood Buffalo then purchased those art pieces from the artists and gifted them to the seniors or Elders with whom they were made. Arts Council also offered seniors and Elders with an art supply kit for those who wanted to create art in addition to conversing with a local artist.

Special impacts:

The goal of Art of Conversation was to connect isolated seniors and Elders with local artists to have conversations, and then create art based on those conversations. Planned months before the pandemic became a reality, Art of Conversation was meant to be a face-to-face workshop between artists, seniors and Elders. COVID-19 prevented those in-person meetings from happening, but the pandemic has made the program more important than ever.

Arts are critical to connecting people and filling them with mental, emotional and physical well-being. Art of Conversation is intended to support good health, while also providing paid opportunities for artists to create their work. This project also served a a reminder of the important role of seniors and Elders in the community.

The program’s inaugural run created 29 art pieces that included songs, paintings, poems and even a balloon sculpture. Some of the stories told through the artistic pieces were new even to volunteers at St. Aidan’s Society, many of whom had known the seniors for years.

To celebrate this project, Arts Council created an online virtual gallery which features the artwork created through the Art of Conversation. The project was so successful that we secured funding from Suncor Energy and the federal government’s New Horizons program to run Art of Conversation again in 2021.

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

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

Visceral Visions Society

Vancouver, British Columbia Project: CultureBrew.Art
Discipline(s): multidisciplinary

Database for Indigenous, Black, and racialized artists to connect and be considered for opportunties with a strong focus on digital connection and promoting artists during COVID.

Special impacts:

Focus on IBPOC Communities and supporting them through the COVID lull of work in the arts and how to ask artists to expand and think creatively

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples, Racialized
Source: Research

Link to website

International Indigenous Music Summit

Ottawa (base); national and international scope, Ontario Project: Online pivot and expanded reach
Discipline(s): festivals, music

Online summit to amplify and celebrate Indigenous voices and artistic excellence around the world

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Research

Link to website

Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society, Keiko Honda

Vancouver, British Columbia Project: Project Terakoya
Discipline(s): media arts, reading, writing, publishing, multidisciplinary, community arts

The project Terakoya is an intergenerational learning and collaboration that is a unique approach to bridging the generational gap. Students (high school to university) and older adults to get a chance to form connections through shared experiences and projects. Older adults will play a vital role by sharing their wisdom and life stories, while students will learn valuable practical and emotional skills from working with older adults, such as group co-leadership, self-confidence, and emotional maturity. The older adults may also learn social networking skills and etiquette from the students.

Special impacts:

After harvesting the goodness and challenges of 2020 and this year, I would like to keep coming back to Goethe’s participatory method that allows us to see a thing that is perhaps hiding in plain sight all along. And go out to nature more. Our true legacy for further generations is to leave nature accessible to the next generations so that they can actively participate to come into being. And in that, I see what is art for.

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

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

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

Woodland Cultural Centre

Six Nations, Ontario Project: Preserving and promoting Indigenous history, art, language, and culture through popular virtual tours
Discipline(s): heritage, museums and galleries
Read the story

Virtual tours, guest speaker, resource packages, Q&A sessions, online workshops, etc.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Research

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

Michelle Thevenot

RM of Corman Park, Saskatchewan Project: Portal of Healing
Discipline(s): visual arts

A portal-frame sculpture carved from sustainably salvaged log wood using chainsaw and power tools. Two eagles fly together – one adult, one juvenile. This is the Portal of Healing.

The artwork was created with inspiration observed in nature and the firsthand account of an empowered storyteller.

Enza and I connected with the purpose of interpreting human experience into art. She chose to share her story of intergenerational trauma through Indigenous lineage and the effects it has on personal, family, educational, financial, socio-economic, and career dynamics.

My artistic intent is to serve as a channel to deliver interpretation, healing, and connection to others through the artwork. I opened myself to receive inspiration from nature to create a meaningful artwork that is relevant and honoring to the topic.

The eagles presented themselves as inspiration and the “Portal of Healing” emerged.

Special impacts:

The future lies ahead framed through a passageway. It honours those flying forward together in the direction of intergenerational hope and healing. It is a transition from one side of history to the other, leading the way for others to follow.

Healing starts here by telling your story.

Healing starts here by listening to others’ stories.

The “Portal of Healing” is intended to be a publicly accessible monument that honours those with stories to tell and invites other to listen. A place where healing can take a step forward into the future, together.

The artwork is currently available and seeking a suitable location for permanent installation.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Survey

Link to website

Aanmitaagzi

North Bay, Ontario Project: Ice Follies, Gathering our Medicines Workshops
Discipline(s): community arts, multidisciplinary

"Slowly the creatures emerged from the pressure cracks jutting out of frozen Lake Nipissing. They danced about as Nipissing First Nation’s Penny Couchie recited Pressure Cracks. Blue light shone on the creatures as they moved to the amplified composition by Jacob Dayfox. Hundreds walked the ice path lit up with whimsical light installations to witness the performance of Mkomiiwi.

Aanmitaagzi produced the performance Mkomiiwi showcased at Ice Follies 2020 on Lake Nipissing at Marathon Beach in North Bay."

Special impacts:

Online culture-specific workshops, which might be relevant to many other organizations and communities.

Equity seeking: Indigenous Peoples
Source: Research

Link to website