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Arts Research in Canada – Insights and Absences

March 15, 202215 March 2022

Thanks to the 100+ people who joined us on March 15 to explore and reflect upon the pilot year of the Arts Insights Canada (AIC) initiative.

Presenters Cynthia Lickers-Sage, Parmela Attariwala, and Kelly Hill identified highlights and key findings from the AIC reports released to date, including an examination of their gaps and limitations. The session was hosted by Jason van Eyk of the Azrieli Foundation. (Bios below.) The webinar included a robust Q&A session on the state of arts research in Canada.

A number of resources from the webinar are available for download:

More information on this topic can be found in this blog from Hill Strategies.

The questions asked during the Q&A session are listed below. We did not have time to address them all:

  • Has there ever been consideration to break out information from Indigenous to First Nations, Métis, Inuit? (Arianne Mulaire)
  • In the last Budget, the Department of Finance has announced an initiative to better measure quality of life in Canada. Has anyone in the cultural sector been approached to participate in this?  If not, perhaps it might be worth pursuing. Certainly, we do need better qualitative data with regard to culture. (M. Sharon Jeannotte)
  • Cynthia – can you speak more about the baseline you mention – what specific data elements would you like to be included? (Michael Trent)
  • What role can critical and social theories play in helping us understand “why” certain patterns or trends are observed in data? (Scott Carey)
  • Re: touring and environment. I just interviewed 40 Canadian musicians, all pro policy change re: environment, carbon offsets etc. Please check out Canada Council’s Strategic Initative Fund re: greening the arts. They told me to share with people. (Amelia Merhar)
  • When the government makes policies and decisions about arts funding, they often base it on quantitative data which continues to promote a capitalist agenda – where all their decisions are based on economic growth. Doesn’t that continue to uphold the status quo? (Brenda Leadlay)
  • Re: freelance vs full-time positions in the data, this is a big challenge. How can we attempt to get this data? And can we go beyond to include culture bearing work and other non-paid work? (Jessica Taylor)
  • Is there any data regarding audience participation in the arts over the pandemic? Have they been engaging with zoom performances? Are they opting out? Are they switching to non-performance art to fill the void? (Debby Reis)
  • Has the recent REMC report been mentioned? (Apologies if so – I arrived late.) Some great thoughts about data collection and baselines to aid representation in the screen sector that may be ported to other fields. (kris erickson)
  • Gathering the data is great — but connecting together some of the (often smaller?) organizations that are working for social change with the larger institutions is an important issue. Would love to hear about that! (Vanessa Blais-Tremblay)
  • In 2021, the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture, in partnership with SFU post-doctoral fellow Carolyne Clare and Global Public Affairs, started a conversation with British Columbians — about creativity. We sought to answer two key questions: 1) How did BC residents use creativity and the arts during the COVID-19 pandemic? To answer this question, we created and distributed a survey to a representative sample of the BC population. 2) How did arts organizations support their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic? To answer this question, our team interviewed 40 arts organizations based across the seven regions of BC. We are pleased to present our report: Everyday Creativity & COVID-19 in BC. (Brenda Leadlay)


Dr. Parmela AttariwalaViolinist and ethnomusicologist, Dr. Parmela Attariwala interweaves life as a performer-creator, researcher and music educator. In addition to interpreting traditional Western art music, Attariwala’s creative work explores the liminal space between musical genres, artistic disciplines and identities. Through the Attar Project, she has developed an avant-garde repertoire for violin and tabla (highlighted on three critically-acclaimed CDs), and bharata-natyam influenced works for choreographed violin. Attariwala uses her multi-faceted platforms to promote contemporary Canadian artistic creation as well as to examine systemic inequity in the Canadian musical ecosystem in order to advocate for equity, ethics and redistribution of resources.

Cynthia Lickers-SageCynthia Lickers-Sage is a Mohawk, Turtle Clan visual artist from Six Nations. Following her graduation at the Ontario College of Art and Design she co-founded The Centre for Aboriginal Media, imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival and is the sole proprietor of Clickers Productions. She has spent the last two decades working in the not-for-profit arts sector and is currently the Executive Director at the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance.

Photo of Kelly Hill, President of Hill Strategies ResearchKelly Hill has 25 years of arts research experience in Canada, including nearly 20 years as President of Hill Strategies Research, a Canadian company devoted to providing research insights on the arts. With Hill Strategies, Kelly has prepared over 400 research reports and presentations, giving him a unique perspective on the Canadian arts sector and arts-related statistics. is a widely-used and respected resource on important areas of research on the arts, including topics such as the situation of artists, arts participation, and benefits of the arts.

Jason van EykWhile Jason van Eyk’s first love is music (B.Mus, M.Mus), his professional practice has been aligned with education and administration activities for over two decades. Following graduate training in arts management, he has demonstrated a passion for expanding the role of the arts in Canadian life. You only have to look to the Canadian Music Centre, where he served as Ontario Regional Director, or to the University of Toronto, where he was the Founding Director of U of T ArtsZone, to find examples of his impact. Add in his classroom experience for the Regent Park School of Music, the University of Toronto and Centennial College, and it becomes clear why Jason went on to tackle senior positions in arts education, including Executive Director of ArtsSmarts and Managing Director of the Royal Conservatory’s Learning Through the Arts program. Jason currently serves as the Azrieli Foundation’s Manager of Music Initiatives, where he divides his time between grant-making, managing the biennial Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) and co-developing initiatives such as the Sistema Canada Network and Arts Insights Canada.

Recent Resources
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Graph 1: Decrease in hours worked, 2019 to 2020, All workers, Artists, and Self-employed artistsLogo of the Statistical Insights on the Arts series by Hill Strategies