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Creating a Collaborative Learning Community for
Indigenous and Ethno-Racial Artists in Ontario.

1. CPAMO: The Story so Far ... 1
2. Background Research ... 6
3. Current Environment & Policy Context ... 9
4. Moving to a Collaborative Approach:
Why a Shared Learning Platform? ... 16
5. Models for Collaborative Support Structures ... 20
6. Preferred Collaborative Model for CPAMO ... 24
7. Conclusion/Recommendations ... 35
8. Acknowledgements ... 38
9. References/resources ... 39

Paper prepared by: Jane Marsland
In consultation with: charles c. smith, CPAMO Board & Advisory Committee
Graphic design by Victoria Glizer

We would like to thank our funders, the Canada Council for the Arts
and the Ontario Arts Council, for their support.



Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) began officially
in 2009 as a movement of Indigenous and ethno-racial artists seeking
opportunities to engage with presenters across Ontario and to enable
presenters to develop constructive relationships with Indigenous and
ethno-racial artists.
However, there was much that happened before then to get to this point.
In 2002, the now Executive Director of CPAMO, charles c. smith, began
meeting with artists and presenters to get a sense of the issues, challenges and
concerns in the arts communities and to understand what might need to
be done to promote more diverse performances on stages across Ontario.
At first he met with representatives of the SONY Centre, Community Arts
Ontario (no longer in existence), the Hispanic Development Council,
CAHOOTS Theatre, Modern Times Theatre, Nathaniel Dett Chorale,
Community Cultural Impresarios (CCI and now Ontario Presents), Creative
Trust, Centre for Indigenous Theatre and others.
He then met with representatives of funding agencies, including the
Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto
Arts Council.
In this process, it was clear that all consulted felt there was an urgent
need for some focus to increase the access of Indigenous and ethno-racial
artists to presenting venues. Artists had worked for years to both create
work and present it themselves and many found that the latter was taking
away from what their main interest was, i.e., creation and performing.
Some of these artists did not have strong, or any, capacities to market
and promote their work and often worked in venues that were not the
best sites for their performances, e.g., in community centres, religious
institutions and other non-arts spaces.


Presenters were seeing the dramatic demographic changes in their
communities and were not very familiar with whom these new and rapidly
growing communities were, how to communicate with them and the
kinds of cultural productions they were interested in seeing. Funders
were concerned about the equally rapid growth in grant applications and
how best to address these in terms of available funds, criteria for assessment,
jurors who could assess the work and how successful funded artists might
be in an environment of rapid demographic change.
“ Pluralism, collaboration, and new methodologies for cultural
production are central tenets of CPAMO’s mandate. What better
way to manifest these principles than a shared platform? Combining
energy and resources will assist Aboriginal and ethno-racial
organizations, allowing them to share expenses, exchange skills and
knowledge, co-mentor, combine marketing campaigns, collaborate
on audience engagement strategies, and so much more. Coming together in this manner will help create an energetic engagement
with diversity and relationships based on understanding across
lines of artistic and cultural difference, and that can only help
to bolster artistic innovation and the vitality of Canada’s cultural
- Rebecca Burton, Membership and Professional Contracts Manager,
Equity in Theatre Co-Organizer, Playwrights Guild of Canada

While the process to build CPAMO into what it now is started in 2002,
it wasn’t until a partnership developed between Ontario Presents that
CPAMO received its first grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and
the Canada Council for the Arts. Following this, CPAMO was successful in
receiving grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Ministry of Citizenship,
Culture and Recreation (as it was then). These funds, mostly administered
by Ontario Presents, were for projects to support building a relationship
between Indigenous, ethno-racial artists and presenters – a process that
started in January 2010.

At the centre of CPAMO’s work is the belief in pluralism as a way to move
beyond simply acknowledging culturally diverse arts organizations which
can still leave cultural groups isolated with little interaction among them
and those responsible for more established arts venues that represent European
cultural productions. CPAMO seeks to achieve an energetic engagement
with diversity and actively seeks to build relationships based on understanding across lines of artistic and cultural difference as well as engaging
the Eurocentric culture, so we get to know and more fully understand each
other. CPAMO works to establish a new paradigm of pluralism where we
do not leave our identities and beliefs behind, instead we hold our genuine
differences not in isolation, but in relationship to each other. This level of
understanding is achieved through dialogue, a process of talking and listening
to each other to reveal our common understandings and authentic differences.
An example of this is evident in CPAMO’s work in the dance community.
The Canadian Dance Assembly/L’Assembléecanadienne de la danse has
developed a short piece on pluralism which is appended to this report. A
very helpful element of this piece is the differences between diversity and
pluralism which is extracted below.
Pluralism is a positive response to diversity.
Diversity (in the absence of pluralism)

Pluralism (in response to diversity)

Tolerates differences

Values differences

Creates exclusion

Promotes inclusion

Elicits division

Encourages cooperation

Creates passive observance

Nurtures active engagement

Risks conformity

Encourages mutual exchange

Exists in isolation

Requires compromise

Is a reality

Is a choice


In this context, CPAMO has functioned as a network of Indigenous
and ethno-racial artists involved in theatre, music, dance, visual and
literary arts. They are members of CPAMO’s Roundtable and include
representatives of Sampradaya Dance, Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Little
Pear Garden Theatre Collective, Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Kaha:wi
Dance, b-current, urban arts and backforward collective, TeyyaPeya
Productions, Culture Days, Lua Shayenne and Company, Obsidian Theatre,
the Collective of Black Artists, CanAsian Dance and others.
CPAMO has been very effective in developing
relationships and partnerships to achieve many
of its goals. CPAMO has worked very closely with
Ontario Presents, Canadian Dance Assembly, the
IMPACT Festival in Kitchener-Waterloo, cultural organizations in Ottawa and their members
to build their capacities, cultural competencies
and understanding of pluralism in the arts so
that these members engage artists from these
communities and, thereby, enable audiences
across Ontario to access artistic expressions from
diverse communities on a regular basis.

CPAMO workshop at Flato Markham
Theatre in 2011. Photo by Pam Lau.

CPAMO’s overarching goal is to help foster the creation of high quality art
from diverse backgrounds and support its presentation on all stages in
Ontario. To move this work into spaces where it can be seen and enjoyed
by everyone who is interested in the performing arts and the stories of
all the people of Ontario.
To achieve this, CPAMO is committed to a grassroots approach, always
shaping its programs and activities from the members needs.
Over the past five years CPAMO has engaged a significant number of arts
organizations, artists, facilitators to provide very successful workshops.


CPAMO has been involved in six principle activities:
1) coordinating public forums/Town Halls on pluralism in the arts;
2) providing showcases of Indigenous and ethno-racial artists;
3) coordinating professional development opportunities;
4) engaging in networking activities within the arts;
5) conducting research and promoting member activities;
6) delivering presentations at conferences and other forums.
(For more detailed information on this and the CPAMO history, see
CPAMO has recently incorporated as a non-profit organization. CPAMO felt
this was a necessary step to more effectively respond to the changes in the
arts ecosystem. CPAMO believes it must be a catalytic entity to support
change for Indigenous and ethno-racial artists and arts organization, in the
arts sector and in the broader community as well.
It is at this point that CPAMO commissioned this report to research possible
shared platform models and provide recommendations for moving forward.

CPAMO Worskhop at CSI Spadina, Toronto, 2011. Photo by Kevin A. Ormsby


Over the past six months I examined the available literature on the concept
of shared platforms in their broadest context – from simply sharing office
space to the ideas of charitable venture organizations. A particular emphasis
of my research was to investigate new collaboration systems in both the
for-profit sector as well as the arts.
Over the same period there have been two focus group sessions, two
board meetings and three advisory committee sessions to gain a better
understanding of what Indigenous and ethno-racial artists want and
require in order to achieve their artistic visions. CPAMO has also surveyed
its membership on several occasions to learn what its members wish to
participate in and the level of relationship they wish to have with their
Shared Charitable Platforms:
In my Metcalf Foundation paper, Shared Platforms and Charitable Venture
Organizations, I examined the current state of the arts funding system and
its impact on the development of arts organizations and artists.
“The number of arts organizations is growing faster than available
funding, so the existing funding resources have had to be more thinly
apportioned among a greater number of organizations. This leads to
severe under-capitalization among all arts organizations, no matter
their size or age. But the most pressing concern is that there is no
longer sufficient growth in public arts funding to allow emerging artists to enter the system in any significant way.”


The two key factors that I felt were contributing to the impasse in the arts
funding system were:
1) “Growth in the numbers of arts organizations seeking government
funding has far outstripped the growth of funds available.
2) Retaining status as a stand-alone, charitable, non-profit organization
requires too many resources and is no longer an efficient model for
producing art.”
That paper went on to examine the role that shared charitable platforms/
charitable venture organizations could provide to enhance support to the
arts sector, especially for small and emerging arts entities.
For the purposes of this Report, I continued my research into shared
charitable platforms. There have been a few interesting additions to
the topic. As part of their Sector Signals series, Mowat NFP published,
A Platform for Change, written by Elizabeth McIsaac and Carrie Moody. The
report provided some examples of current shared platforms in the non
profit sector and examined some of the successes as well as the challenges
facing the development of shared charitable platforms. The Report made a
number of recommendations on developing the concept, investing in it and
the importance of continuing the learning.
The Ontario Nonprofit Network is currently producing A Guidebook for
Shared Platforms for Nonprofit and Charitable Organizations. This Guidebook is primarily looking at Shared Charitable Platforms and “will provide
practical information and resources to support organizations in how to
structure and implement the model”. It is anticipated that the Guidebook
will be released at the ONN’s Conference in October 20/21, 2015.
The Metcalf Foundation along with the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium
Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts recently issued a Request
for Proposals for a Shared Charitable Platform for the Arts. The funding
partners will jointly contribute up to $200,000 per year for a three year

period to establish a shared charitable platform for the arts. While there
is no guarantee of ongoing funding, the proposal did indicate that should
the platform require ongoing funding support it may be eligible to apply to
regular programs after the pilot period.
CPAMO submitted a Request for Expressions of Intent and was invited to
the June session which was intended to:
• further the conversation around shared charitable platforms,
• help shape the process to apply for funding for both funders and potential
applicants, and
• invent some possible collaborative activities.
After some consideration, it was decided that the timing was too premature
for CPAMO to try to establish a Shared Charitable Platform at this time and
so CPAMO did not submit a Request for Proposal for a Shared Platform for
the Arts. However, the concept of a shared charitable platform is still a part
of CPAMO’s future thinking.
“In 2000 I met a woman who said to me: “In this new century it
is vital that we learn to work together”. It has only been in the
last few years that I have really understood those words. Aluna Theatre is a small independent company with limited funding
and human resources. Collaborations have become the key to
our growth and artistic success. They permit us to reach more
artists and audiences, but more importantly still, they allow us to
understand who we are as artists and what our role is within the
Canadian ecology. Further, they show us how to connect Canada
to the rest of the Americas. Shared Platforms help us reach those
- Beatriz Pizano, Artistic Director, Aluna Theatre


The Current Environment:
“The world we have created has outstripped our capacity to understand it. The scale of interconnectivity and interdependence has
resulted in a step change in the complexity of the operating environment. These new conditions are raising fundamental questions about
our competence in key areas of governance, economy, sustainability and consciousness. We are struggling as professionals and in
our private lives to meet the demands they are placing on traditional
models of organisation, understanding and action. The anchors of
identity, morality, cultural coherence and social stability are unravelling and we are losing our bearings. This is a conceptual emergency.” 1
The volatility of the current environment caused in part by the very rapid
technological change has outpaced our capacity to fully understand it. We
need to be constantly prepared for unpredictable, disruptive change. Our
old mental model of trying to create a self-sustaining organization that can
find the resources it needs to operate independently is no longer viable.
We need to develop collaborative and systemic approaches to survive. We
have to shift the lens from scarcity to abundance, from self-contained
organizations to networks, from stable to flexible/adaptable.
A key aspect of the research was to gain an understanding of the rapidly
changing environment for the arts. In particular, to try to determine the
impact of the arts funding system’s inability to keep pace with the exploding
number of artists coming into the system.
1. Graham Leicester and Maureen O’Hara. “Ten Things to Do in a Conceptual Emergency”.
International Futures Forum, 2009.


The theory and foundation on how arts organizations are structured and
managed that was developed in the 60’s and 70’s no longer works in
an environment of rapid change and instability. The nonprofit corporate
foundation model that was imposed on artists because there was no
other model for accountability available at that time. It is a linear,
hierarchical and mechanistic structure. It also can be influenced by class
structure as boards tend to come from the upper middle class and utilize
those networks to develop resources for the organization. Indigenous
and ethno-racial arts organizations are being hampered in their ability
to determine the appropriate formats they need to create their art by
the need to apply these structures and methods. At this point in time,
Indigenous and ethno-racial arts entities also need to be able to develop
and work within a structure/frame that is not filtered through the mainstream, privileged mindset.
Many artists who incorporated as nonprofit organizations and entered the
arts funding system after 1990 have not been able to develop the resources
to be a fully operational model with adequate staffing. They are generally
under-capitalized so are always in a precarious position. Many artists coming
into the system after 2000 have not even been able to develop an ongoing
organizational structure. Many have had to continue to rely on income from
unrelated work while struggling to find the resources to produce their own
work. And the most disturbing aspect of this current state in the arts funding system is that even project funding has not kept pace with the cost of
producing art. Added to this is the challenge to emerging and artists from
diverse backgrounds of the very competitive nature of the funding system
due to the lack of resources in the arts funding system.
However, there has been an explosion in the expansion, range, diversity,
productivity of artists working in non-formal, non-institutional formats.
These artists are working new in formats by choice, not just waiting until
they can grow into traditional organizations. Many of these organizing/producing models embrace the collaborative nature of the creative process.


This crisis of funding has been particularly challenging for the development
of the Indigenous and ethno-racial artists and arts organizations that had
encountered systemic barriers to arts funding prior to the establishment of
the Equity Office and the Aboriginal Arts Office at the Canada Council for
the Arts in the early 1990’s. To begin to address this historical inequity, the
Canada Council established the Capacity Building Initiative, which ran from
2001/02 to 2013/14.
“In 1999, the Canada Council recognized that culturally diverse
organizations were far from receiving an appropriate level of
funding equal to that of their peers in the mainstream arts milieu.
The capacity-building program was created as a sunset initiative
to address this gap. This priority was reflected in its 2002-2005
Corporate Plan.
To strengthen and sustain the creativity of Canada’s culturally diverse
artists and organizations by ensuring they receive an appropriate level
of funding and support in the form of grants and services.
The Capacity Building Initiative had four key goals to strengthen the
capacity of Indigenous and ethno-racial arts organizations across
Canada: to develop the administrative infrastructure of organizations;
to better support artistic productivity and professional development
of personnel, and to increase impact on the organization’s identified
communities.” 2
“Artists are like running water, they will find a path. Funders need
to embrace their creativity in finding a new path.”
John Ryerson, Board Chair, CPAMO

2. Fernandez, Sharon. “Outcome Assessment of the Canada Council’s Aboriginal and Culturally
Diverse Capacity-Building Programs”, 2008.


While organizations participating in the Initiative seemed mostly satisfied
with the funding provided by the Capacity Building Initiative and felt that it
should be continued, the program ended in 2014.
The impact of the end of the Capacity Building Initiative means Indigenous
and ethno-racial arts organizations will continue to experience difficulty
developing the resources they require to build organizations to support
their artistic visions. As a response to this, Canada Council for the Arts
began its ‘Cultivate’ Program in 2014 and this program is being offered
again in 2015. However, it is unclear what will happen with this program
in the Council’s scheme to revise all of its grant programs into four major
categories for 2017.
More locally, while the Ontario Arts Council has an Aboriginal Office and
specific funding programs in some of its disciplines for ‘culturally diverse
artists, e.g., dance and visual arts, and has recently developed a program
for deaf and disabled artists, it does not have a distinct overarching equity
program like the Canada Council for the Arts. Further, aside from the recent
creation of an Indigenous Arts Program, the Toronto Arts Council does
not have any specific policies or programs to address these artists and
arts organizations
To move forward, we will need to move beyond the exclusive focus
on formal organizations as there are no longer the resources to build
them. The new era will need to focus on networks and infrastructure,
both internal and external. The focus will need to be about building
an ecology of shared resources. In particular, we must develop a collaborative mindset. Collaboration is defined as a mutually dependent and
reciprocal relationship, which fosters interdependence and reliance on
others within the group. Successful collaboration acknowledges that
everyone has ideas. This principle is a foundation for the development
of a shared vision from which access to information, trust, respect, and
participation flows. We will need to establish how to effectively support
such a collaborative vision.

As I conducted the research for this paper I came to the realization that
just sustaining the existing infrastructure will not necessarily ensure a
healthy and vital arts ecology. This is a bigger societal issue that demands
big questions so clearly posed by Diane Ragsdale in her paper, Holding
Up the Arts: Can we sustain what we’ve created? Should we?:
• “If governance largely means board members and leaders looking
out for the future of their own institutions, then who is looking out
for the interests of the community-at-large?
• Who is able to recognize when we may be trying to sustain one arts
institution at the expense of another, or many others?
• Or trying to sustain an arts sector at the expense of other amenities
or social services?
• Or trying to sustain opera companies, orchestras, theatres, and
dance companies at the expense of sustaining artists, creativity, culture
and broad and deep engagement with the arts?”
As we work our way through these challenging times, developing the right
questions might be more important initially than having the answers.
In our report, Seizing Permission: The TLC Toronto Initiative, we noted the
increasing challenge of the resource distribution problem in the arts sector:
“These are challenging discussions as everyone is inclined to be
protective of what they have, even in a dysfunctional system. It has
been easier, and less contentious, to focus on the challenges of
being under-resourced as a sector and assume that a solution to
that challenge would automatically address the resource distribution
inequities. But the traditional ‘trickle down’ structure in which
large institutions receive the bulk of the resources with the expectation
that these resources will be infused throughout the sector is out
of step in a world in which exciting, dynamic and significant work
is emerging in places disconnected from traditional power structures.
Further, the entrenched model of resource distribution sustains

historic patterns, which prevent the sector from realizing genuine
equity and diversity.” 3
Some additional questions that might be posed from a pluralistic perspective
for the future of the arts ecology are:
• Who is making the key decisions on who gets what resources in this time
of constraint in the arts funding system?
• Where do we start the conversation about pluralism and what that
means in an arts ecosystem?
• Is there a willingness on the part of the arts institutions to examine their
mission and goals of the institution from a pluralistic perspective?
The Policy Context:
As part of my research, I tried to find examples of arts and cultural policies
that reflected a pluralistic perspective. The diversity strategy developed by
The Arts Council England best supported a pluralistic concept.
The Arts Council England has developed a diversity strategy which they have
framed as “The Creative Case”.
“The creative case is based upon the simple observation that diversity,
in the widest sense, is an integral part of the artistic process. It is
an important element in the dynamic that drives art forward; that
innovates it and brings it closer to a profound dialogue with contemporary
We need to recognise that art placed in the margins through structural
barriers and antiquated and exclusive approaches has to be brought
to the centre of our culture and valued accordingly. The Arts Council
3. Seizing Permission: The TLC Toronto Initiative, written & compiled by Anne Dunning, Jane
Marsland & Nello McDaniel, ARTS Action Research, p.19


believes that the creative case approach demands three interlocking
progressions: Equality, Recognition, A New Vision.
There has to be a continued drive for equality to remove barriers in the
arts world, releasing and realising potential and helping to transform
the arts so that they truly reflect the reality of the diverse country that
we have become but still do not fully recognise.
There has to be a new conversation that attempts through various
means to resituate diverse artists, both historically and theoretically, at
the centre of British art – whether that is the performing arts, the visual
arts, combined arts, music, literature or film.
A New Vision
We need a new framework for viewing diversity, one that takes it out of
a negative or ‘deficit’ model and places it in an artistic context. Diversity
becomes not an optional extra but part of the fabric of our discussions
and decisions about how we encourage an energetic, relevant, fearless and challenging artistic culture in England and the wider world.” 4

CPAMO in Markham, 2012. Photo by Eric Lariviere
4. The Creative Case for Diversity in Britain website


What do Indigenous and Ethno-Racial Artists and Arts Organizations
As part of the process of developing this report, I reviewed the member
surveys CPAMO conducted in 2013 and 2014 as a basis to develop a
strategy for consultations with artists and others interested in this project.
Based on this this initial research, CPAMO held two board meetings, two
focus group meetings and two advisory committee meetings to discuss
what the artists wanted/needed to continue to create their work and
how other participants who are committed to working in a pluralistic
environment could be involved.
The predominant desire expressed by
the artists and arts entities who participated in these sessions was to not
pursue incorporation as a non profit,
charitable arts organization to support
their work. The organizations that had
already incorporated felt that they
were always struggling to find the
resources to sustain that organizational model. They all needed more
resources and support to be able to
produce the work they aspired to.

Social Media 101 workshop in 2013.
Photo by Kevin A. Ormsby

There was, however, strong agreement that a shared learning platform
was required, along with the belief that working collaboratively would
help them achieve the quality of work they wanted and a willingness to
actively participate in the shared learning platform.





The key reasons to establish a shared learning platform were:
• To promote an inclusive arts ecology that engages with historically
marginalized arts practices – to live our values in the world.
• To share our abundance – support, skills, pooling of resources.
• To establish conditions for learning and opening creativity – peer
to peer learning, engaging in process & principles.
• To stimulate peer support, networking and mentorship.
• To develop relationships between audiences, artists, and
• To showcase our work – a new definition of Canadian contemporary
art making.
• To promote leadership for change in the arts sector/arts practice.
• To provide a safe space/environment (not a building) for art
making, learning, sharing, advocacy.
• To be an active clearing house – how to disseminate best
practices, and how everyone can contribute.
• To open up the space for Indigenous and ethno-racial artists
and arts organizations and ensure inclusion into the whole arts
• To provide individuals from Indigenous and ethno-racial arts
entities the opportunity to enjoy a sustainable career in the arts.
• To aspire to equity, balance, and opportunity.

“Collaboration in the arts is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity.
But productive collaboration requires that the partners are truly
engaged in the shared process. Token collaboration is rampant,
but fruitful collaboration is rare. Marsland’s report is eagerly anticipated to help guide the arts sector forward.”
- Kate Cornell, Executive Director ~ Directrice Exécutive, Canadian Dance Assembly ~ Assemblée canadienne de la danse


Principles of collaboration/shared platform:

Respect – understanding - open dialogue
Peer to peer – lateral learning
Willingness to share resources
Collaboration and transparency
Commitment to making it work and to the values
Spirit of inquiry
Collective roles/responsibilities



Participants – who are committed to the values:



Artists/arts organizations who engage with the shared platform
Arts service organizations
Presenters – volunteer and professional
Volunteers in the arts
Businesses who share the same intrinsic values


Possible structure or organizing framework:



Groups invested in a particular area/various hubs based on interests
Constellation model or concept
Fluidity based on needs – collectively shared
Virtual vs. physical – hot office/online meet ups
Branding and mandate – philosophical statements – why we
want to work this way
Facilitation (collectively convening)
Documentation of processes
Agreement vs. free membership
Free vs. paid






Practices – acting on the principles:

Understanding of collaborative practices – collaborative art making
Shared marketing, funding, fundraising information/expertise/contacts
Support mentoring, facilitating needs
Harnessing collective resources
Create learning opportunities
Peer to peer networking promotion
Best practice guides
Shared database
Skill sharing
Value system around how we work and participate
How do we show commitment/evaluate participation of others
Catalyst for everyone
Documentation/sharing of processes

Community Engagment Workshop, 2013. Photo by Kevin A. Ormsby.


Shared Space:
In researching the possible models for collaboration, I examined the various
configurations for shared platforms. Some like the Centre for Social
Innovation provide a collaborative hub where small, innovative groups can
share space, launch their initiatives, have the opportunity to connect with
other groups that share similar values or just rent a hot desk wherever they
need one. While their model is shared space, they believe that that sets
the environment for new relationships, new projects and unexpected
outcomes. They are also trying to build a movement of social innovators
to build a better world.
Shared Services:
There are a number of shared service providers assisting artists and arts
organizations. Some are nonprofit organizations such as DUO and STAF as
well as small agencies that manage/produce a few companies such as
Meredith Potter Arts Management. Eponymous in Vancouver functions
like a production house for several performing arts organizations.
A variation on this model has been developed in New York and is detailed in
the paper, Collective Insourcing: A Systemic Approach to Nonprofit Arts
Management by Guy Yarden & Sarah Maxfield. (Link in Web Resources) It
is a slightly different approach as it functions as “a shared, self-sustaining
agency owned by its clients”. They have realized that collaboration works
well in the arts as what differentiates artists and arts organizations is
the creativity and individuality of the content they produce, not the
procedures required to maintain a nonprofit company.


Other variations on the shared services model:
• An Incubator – assist emerging artists to access the skills and support of
the network with financial and programmatic support. Lean Start Up or
Lean Arts are examples of this approach.
• Co-location – provide shared space and services for mature organizations
with large back office needs, such as office space, finance & accounting,
technology/shared databases, human resources, legal, etc.
• Shared back office services only – provide shared non-core back office
services remotely for organizations that could realize improvements in
efficiency and effectiveness such as, financial, technology, human resources,
Examples from the For-Profit Sector:
In response to the highly disruptive environment caused by the rapid
advances in technology, for-profit corporations and businesses have realized
that collaborative approaches are now required, that the old command
and control model can no longer know enough, or move fast enough to
respond to such rapid change.
The first efforts were developing an internal capacity for collaboration,
based on a team approach to problem solving and developing technological
tools to support the collaborative work.
Internal organizational collaboration:
• The introduction of smarter ways of working together across the extended
enterprise enabled by new innovative concepts and technologies.
• The focus is on ways of working together and how to find better ways of
working that make better use of individual and collective time and capacity.
• Stresses that new technologies are core enablers, but also new concepts
such as crowdsourcing, collective intelligence, social networking and
cloud computing.
• Scope of collaboration is not always limited to teams or organizations –

there is a recent understanding that a collaborative effort can potentially
involve any stakeholders.
• Traditional collaboration technologies and ways of working focused on
team collaboration within the organization.
Moving to external collaborations and networks:
In the current highly dynamic, fast paced and inter-connected environment,
businesses – including arts entities - can no longer be static, linear organizations.
Tomorrow’s organizations will have to be more like a flock of starlings or
a school of fish, that can take new shapes when required. Instead of
relying on long-term planning, organizations have to be prepared for the
unexpected, to become more adaptive and resilient. Decisions must
be made wherever and whenever they need to be made, by people
who understand the environment, while at the same time keeping the
shared purpose and artistic vision in mind. This cannot be done if we
continue to work in silos and blindly follow detailed strategies crafted
by consultants and boards of directors.

Together In Dance Forum at Flato Markham Theatre in 2012. Photo by Eric Lariviere.


Although technology is a core enabler for this kind of collaboration, the
artistic vision/mission, people, and technology have to be balanced.
People are the engine of any enterprise, and such things as purpose, culture
– values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours – along with skills and engagement
determine how well the engine runs. The artistic vision/mission sets the
direction, defines what needs to get done, by whom, for whom, when and
why, and evaluates how we are performing. Technology as the core
enabler, provides us with an environment and tools to achieve things
together without being limited by distance or other barriers to communication and coordination.
Unfortunately, in the arts, we have not kept pace with developments
in technology, mostly because of lack of resources, and are now at a
disadvantage. Microsoft just released its Windows 10, which is a mobiledominant enterprise architecture. Its release could enable arts entities to
implement a social collaboration platform…if they know about it.
Much of the sharing economy such as Airbnb, Snapgood and Uber only exist
because they are enabled by technological advances. Owners can rent out
goods they are not currently using to strangers. SpaceFinder Toronto is an
example of using technological tools for sharing information/space, but
the arts are still way behind the rest of society in the sharing economy.

“This is a challenging time for arts organizations who are seeking
new ways of creating work. In our age, collaboration among the arts
organizations is key to remaining innovative. Just being insular and
working with the same people in the same way doesn’t function any
longer. Artistic and organizational collaboration between arts organizations is the secret to the survival of arts in this country.”
- Soheil Parsa, Artistic Director, Modern Times Stage Company


Collaborative Learning Community:
Consistent with CPAMO’s surveys and interviews done in 2013 and 2014,
the results of the consultations through focus groups, CPAMO Board and
Advisory Committee meetings as well as the programs that CPAMO has
offered to date, strongly indicate that the associates of CPAMO want to
establish a collaborative learning community.
Some work would be required to create a stronger community first. A facilitated
process might be required to help the participants develop a shared sense
of purpose and a set of principles that ensured a commitment to ongoing
participation. Role clarity among board, staff and associates/members would
also be important to achieve at the beginning.
Technology would be a core enabler in this model as well. A web-based
platform would be required to support and share collaborative learning,
common interests, skills, tools and knowledge to accelerate new knowledge
in the areas of:
• Artistic practice
• Collaborative creation
• Marketing/audience development/engagement
• Resource development
• Social networking/new media
• Capture shared information
• Facilitate development of ‘toolkits’
• Administrative capacities
Anchoring the collaborative learning community is the commitment to


An important aspect of the Collaborative Learning Community is the ability
to capture what individuals know and make it accessible to others. In the
corporate world, organizations now see high performing teams as far more
effective than the brightest individuals. In the arts we’ve always understood that, the creative process is a collaborative journey to realize an
artistic vision. But now we need to start using new learning processes and
technologies to cultivate collective intelligence. This could provide an even
more powerful capacity-building program for Indigenous and ethno-racial
arts entities.
Humans have always focused many minds on a problem to make progress.
What has now changed is the scale at which diverse individuals can connect
into a global mind to learn faster and deeper. Collective intelligence unites
the strengths of what educator Howard Gardner has defined as multiple
intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, kinesthetic,
naturalist, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and existential.
The concept of pluralism supports collective intelligence with its reliance on
dialogue. James Surowiecke states in the Wisdom of Crowds that crowds
are wise if they have diverse opinions, sufficient independence to avoid
groupthink, access to local knowledge, and a mechanism for aggregating
their opinions into a collective decision.

Social Media 101 workshop. Photo by Kevin A. Ormsby


Peter Senge outlines extraordinary group processes in his book, Presence:
An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations or Society,
where people listen deeply to one another and are open to new knowledge
and transformation. People can make better decisions in the face of
uncertainty and complexity when they challenge each other’s assumptions
about reality.
“Our actions are most likely to revert to what is habitual when we
are in a state of fear or anxiety. Collective actions are no different.
Even as conditions in the world change dramatically, most businesses,
governments, schools, and other large organizations, driven by fear,
continue to take the same kinds of institutional actions that they always
This does not mean that no learning occurs. But it is a limited type
of learning: learning how best to react to circumstances we see
ourselves as having had no hand in creating. Reactive learning is
governed by ‘downloading’ habitual ways of thinking, of continuing
to see the world within the familiar categories we’re comfortable
with. We discount interpretations and options for action that are
different from those we know and trust. We act to defend our interests.
In reactive learning, our actions are actually reenacted habits, and
we invariably end up reinforcing pre-established mental models.
Regardless of the outcomes, we end up being ‘right’. At best, we
get better at what we have always done. We remain secure in the
cocoon of our own world-view, isolated from the larger world.
All learning integrates thinking and doing. All learning is about how
we interact in the world and the types of capacities that develop
from our interactions. What differs is the depth of the awareness
and the consequent source of action. If awareness never reaches
beyond superficial events and current circumstances, actions will be
reactions. If, on the other hand, we penetrate more deeply to see the


larger whole that generate ‘what is’ and our own connection to this
wholeness, the source and effectiveness of our actions can change
The key to the deeper levels of learning is that the larger living wholes
of which we are an active part are not inherently static. Like all living
systems, they both conserve features essential to their existence and
seek to evolve. When we become more aware of the dynamic whole,
we also become more aware of what is emerging.” 5
Collective intelligence arises out of respecting and incorporating different
knowledge and experience. It is based in inclusion: uniting difference to
create a higher order of capacity. Collective intelligence is drawn from
different disciplines, cultures and generations.
What is the Operating Model of a Collaborative Learning Community?
The purpose of this model is to create a body of information and knowledge
on which to build a resilient community of ethno-racial and Indigenous
artists and arts organizations who can develop their capacity to create and
present quality works of art through collaborative processes and shared
How does it work?
It would start in phases. In the beginning the core activities will be a series
of workshops on how to build collaborative practices:
• How to make successful artistic collaborations
• How to collaborate with presenters
• How artists can share resources for mutual benefit
5. Presence: An exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society, by Peter
Senge, C.OttoScharmer, Joseph Jaworkski, Betty Sue Flowers, SoL (Society for Organizational
Learning) Doubleday, New York, NY 2005, pp. 10,11


The Objectives for this are to:
• Develop a Lean Start Up approach – prototype several scenarios – select
one – act/fail fast – learn
• Set Workshop schedule
• Determine web platform for communication. Exploit new communications
technologies to promote connectivity
• Invest in building relationships with a minimum five- to seven-year time
frame, focusing on support for creative work as well as organizational
capacity building
• Build programs from the ground up, rather than the top down, with frequent
consultation, sharing of information, and consensus building about tactics
CPAMO has already received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts
and the Ontario Arts Council for this step and is currently engaged in setting
up a series of seven (7) full day workshops involving award-winning artists
and presenters who will facilitate these sessions. CPAMO will also conduct
research on collaborative artistic practices to be shared with those attending
these sessions.
Out of these workshops, CPAMO anticipates that the participants will gain
an awareness of the value of collaborative practices, learn about evidence
-based practices currently in the field, share their knowledge with each
other and design a collaborative practice to pursue.
Based on these results, in the second, third and fourth years CPAMO will:
1) support the artists and presenters who have agreed to work in and have
developed a collaborative practice in year one. This support might take
several forms to address practices that may vary from artistic collaboration,
sharing administrative resources and capacities, marketing and promoting
a specific activity, engaging diverse audiences or some other form of


2) provide a series of workshops similar to those offered in year one.
This will allow new participants to become involved. It will also build
the collaborative learning community as participants in the first year
may become involved as facilitators and resources for these new
participants. In this way, CPAMO seeks to build the artistic milieu by
supporting peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing, skill development and
common action that expands the capacities of artists and arts organizations
committed to pluralism.
3) convene Town Halls and artistic showcases to promote the concepts of
pluralism in artistic collaborations. These forums have been an ongoing
feature of CPAMO’s work and have been very successful at enabling the
engagement of artists, arts organizations, presenters, funders and other
interested in promoting pluralism in the arts.
4) disseminate information through its newsletters, social media, web site;
5) conduct research into contemporary issues in the arts related to promoting
pluralism and collaborative practices; and
6) continue its engagement in the broader arts community by supporting
its Advisory Committee as well as contributing to broader sectoral
dialogue on shared platforms, with national and provincial arts services
organizations and with arts organizations that share common goals and
objectives, e.g. the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, the IMPACT
Festival (Kitchener-Waterloo), the Equity In Theatre Project (Playwrights
Guild of Canada), the Canadian Dance Assembly Pluralism Committee,
the Canadian Arts Coalition.
If I want to participate, how would I go about it?
CPAMO is always open to new interests and people and/or organizations
that want to get involved in its work. There are several ways this can happen:
a. Apply as a member. CPAMO membership is always open and there is no

charge. Most of CPAMO members are Indigenous and ethno-racial artists.
However, some members are supporters of these artists. All members
must subscribe to CPAMO’s goals. To become a member, simply write an
email to and ask how you can join.
b. Express interest as a presenter. CPAMO encourages presenters – venue
operators, publishers, galleries – to become involved. CPAMO believes
that presenters are a critical part of the arts ecology and want to assist
making connections between presenters and artists and engaging both
in dialogue related to pluralism in the arts and how to advance it;
c. Be on the list-serve. There are many individuals and organizations who
are interested in what CPAMO is doing and wish to receive updates,
newsletters and other materials CPAMO disseminates.
CPAMO’s collaborative projects will be open to its members and others
who are committed to the principles outlined earlier in this report.
All of the above receive CPAMO updates and publications regularly. The
CPAMO newsletter comes out quarterly and CPAMO publishes the information
shared at its events. CPAMO has also produced annual reports for the
past three years, published 25 newsletters and maintains an active website ( and social media (Facebook:
C u l t u ra l - P l u ra l i s m - i n - t h e - A r t s - M o v e m e n t- O n t a r i o - C PA M O 103338769715371 and Twitter:
As a recently incorporated body with its first full year of operational funding, CPAMO’s core staff is an Executive Director, Program Manager and
Program Assistant. This is a lean administrative model which enables
CPAMO to both provide certain core services with these resources while,
at the same time, contracting artists, presenters and other professionals
for short-term projects and activities, e.g., facilitating a workshop, conducting
research, engaging in fundraising, etc.

CPAMO has recently incorporated and is governed by a Board of







CPAMO has also established an Advisory Committee to:
• Support and act as goodwill ambassadors for CPAMO. As
ambassadors the members will help develop awareness and
advance the vision for the program within their own respective
• Act as ‘door openers’ to key individuals within their own
community, company, industry or institution where CPAMO
may be seeking participation and support.
• Give advice and guidance to CPAMO where needed, and may
be invited to participate on working committees.
The current members of the Advisory Committee are:
• Kathleen Sharpe, Executive Director, Ontario Cultural Attractions
• John Ryerson, former Director Cultural Services, City of Markham
• Patty Jarvis, Executive Director, Prologue to the Performing Arts
• Ronnie Brown, Oakville Centre for the Arts
• Eric Lariviere, General Manager Flato Markham Theatre
• Alicia Rose, Timeraiser
• Kate Cornell, Executive Director, Canadian Dance Assembly
• Bruce Pitkin, Executive Director, Theatre Ontario
• Warren Garrett, Executive Director, Community Cultural
Impresarios/Ontario Presenters Network
• Helen Yung, Independent Artist and Former Co-Coordinator
Canada Council Stand Firm Network (Ontario and Manitoba)
• Mimi Beck, CanDance Network
• Cindy Yip, Little Pear Garden Collective
• Anita Agrawal, Consultant and Former Co-Coordinator Canada
Council Stand Firm Network (Ontario and Manitoba)

• Charmaine Headley, Collective of Black Artists
• Rebecca Burton, Playwrights Guild of Canada
• Millie Knapp, Executive Director, Association of Native
Development in the Performing and Visual Arts
• Sheniz Janmohamed, IGNITE Poets
• Soheil Parsa, Artistic Director Modern Times Theatre
• LataPada, Artistic Director Sampradaya Dance Creations
• Sara Meuller, PACT
• Bea Pizano, Artistic Director Aluna Theatre
In addition, as a resource to plan and coordinate its activities,
CPAMO has set-up a Roundtable comprised of ethno-racial
and Indigenous creation-based arts organizations and individual
artists from these communities.
The members of the Roundtable are:
• Anahita Azrahimi, Visual Artist
• Denise Fujiwara, Canasian Dance
• Charmaine Headley and Bakari Eddison Lindsay, Collective
of Black Artists (Dance)
• Lata Pada, Sampradaya Dance Creations
• Nova Bhattacharya, Nova Dance
• Seema Jethalal, Manifesto Festival of Community and Culture
(Multi/Youth Arts)
• Phillip Akin, Obsidian Theatre
• Brainard Bryden-Taylor, Nathaniel Dett Chorale
• Emily Cheung, Little Pear Garden Collective (Dance)
• Spy Denome-Welch, Aboriginal Playwright (Music/Theatre)
• Sedina Fiati, Actor
• Sinara Perdomo-Rozo, alucine latino film festival
• Shannon Thunderbird, TeyaPeya Productions (Performance,
• Olga Barrios, Olga Barrios Dance
• Santee Smith, Kaha’wi Dance Theatre










MenakaThakker, Menaka Thakkar Dance Company
Sandra Laronde, Red Sky Performance
b-current (Theatre)
Cahoots Theatre
Bea Pizano, Aluna Theatre
Korean Canadian Dance Studies of Canada
Millie Knapp, Association for Native Development in the
Performing and Visual Arts
Harvey Weisfeld, wind in the leaves collective (Multidisciplinary)
Lua Shayenne and Company (Dance)
Sheniz Janmohamed, Ignite Poets

Sponsorship and Fundraising workshop. Photo by Kevin A. Ormsby


Developing awareness and getting the word out to possible participants:
CPAMO has an extensive email list of the ethno-racial and Indigenous
artists and arts organizations in Ontario. It has also developed a brochure
which describes its work and encourages participation in its activities.
Business Model of the Collaborative Learning Community:
Based on its mission and mandate, CPAMO’s business model is supported
by its resources in order to support its activities. In this context, CPAMO’s
resources are aimed at promoting its value proposition on the importance
of pluralism and collaboration in the creation of the arts ecology across
Ontario and Canada. With its lean administrative resources, CPAMO has
a virtual office environment and, while its staffing can and does support
its main activities, CPAMO has built a community of resources it can call
upon for specific projects. These resources are either part of the CPAMO
Board, Roundtable and Advisory Committee or are experts in the field
who share the same value proposition.
In concrete terms, this indicates that:
i. CPAMO’s core staffing carry out and coordinate its ongoing activities,
i.e., project development and implementation (pending funding approval),
delivery of projects and/or contracting the expertise to do so, conducting
research and disseminating information, and, promoting activities that
are engaged in pluralism in the arts;
ii. CPAMO’s Board, Advisory Committee and Roundtable members may
be invited to facilitate CPAMO services and projects, participate with
CPAMO staff in conducting outreach and awareness raising activities,
identifying opportunities for CPAMO to be engaged in within the arts


As I’ve worked closely with CPAMO during the research and preparation of this report, I understand that it’s Board, staff and Advisory
Committee are in full support of this report and the directions noted
in the section “Preferred Model for CPAMO”. In this regard, CPAMO is
convening a series of seven (7) full day workshops starting in September
2015 and continuing into April 2016 on the concepts, strategies and
evidence-based practices to build collaborative practices between artists
and between artists and presenters. With funding from the Canada
Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, these workshops will
seek to enable participants to develop their knowledge of collaborative
practices, their benefits and strategies, and how to get them off the
This area, however, is new ground in the arts and, to be successful, will
need the support and encouragement of funding bodies to achieve.
After spending considerable time researching this paper I have two key
recommendations that will require additional support:
1. The need for more substantive research:
I was not able to find any comprehensive research on the scope of the
ethno-racial and Indigenous artists and arts organizations. While there is
information on arts funders websites as to who is getting grants in Equity
and Aboriginal offices, there does not seem to be any compiled information on the field.
Canadian Actors’ Equity Association has undertaken a survey on diversity
on Canadian stages – The Equity Census – the results have not been
publically released as yet. While this is a very important initiative, it is
still just one aspect of the arts sector.


Hill Strategies’ report, A Statistical Profile of Artists and Cultural Workers
in Canada, based on the 2011 National Household Survey and the
Labour Force Survey, Oct. 2014, provides some statistical/demographic
information on the numbers and percentages of visible minority, immigrant
and indigenous artists.
This is certainly not enough information to give any sort of picture of the
scale, development and contribution of the artists and arts organizations
who self identify as ethno-racial and Indigenous.
Without substantive research and information on the sector, how will we
really know what the enabling conditions are that will allow the growth,
health and sustainability of these artists and arts organizations.
Funders require better information to develop better policy frameworks to
support this sector. To know and understand how the arts work in society
and in the economy. The Arts Council England’s Creative Case was developed
from substantial research. I was not able to find any comparable research
in Canada.
2. The need to develop an online platform that provides easy access to a
range of tools for creative collaboration:
The Collaborative Learning Community recommended as the model for
the CPAMO initiative will require online collaborative tools which draw
on peer-to-peer decentralized practices, infrastructures for building
communities of interest, developing new kinds of narratives and synergies
that add depth to artistic practice and contribute to a true sharing
There will need to be investment in the design of these digital tools for
communication, artistic collaboration, and the sharing and co-creation
between artists. They need to be designed from the bottom-up as offthe-shelf programs are most often built on corporate infrastructures.


Time and resources will be required to figure out:
• how to design a shared digital platform for collaboration that empowers
the emergence of communities of interest, and that are not part of the
generic social media platforms;
• how to use these shared digital platforms to overcome the lack of
resources and possible future funding-cuts in the arts funding system;
• how to produce, through emergent creative practices, models for
collaborative and sharing economies that can be facilitated by digital
cultures, e.g. open-source software, file-sharing, etc.
These digital tools will need to be developed as the Collaborative Learning
Community begins to establish what kind of projects and artistic practices
they want to undertake. Over time it will become apparent what collaboration
and co-creation means to the associates/members in an online networked
Part of the work that will be essential will be understanding and resolving
issues around privacy, ownership, anonymity or multiple identity.
It will also be critical to find the right partners in the technical field to help
design such a digital tool.
Finally, this report should be regarded as a work in progress, to be updated
from time to time as the environment changes and the learning advances.


This report was made possible by grants from the Ontario Arts Council
Compass Program and the Canada Council for the Arts Leadership for
Change Program.
I am most grateful for the support and guidance of charles c. smith, Kevin
A. Ormsby, the CPAMO Board and the Advisory Committee throughout
the research and writing of this report. The artists and arts organizations
that participated in the focus groups as well as the newly formed Board
of Directors of CPAMO were especially helpful and very generous of the
time they provided to offer their insights, concerns, and recommendations
which formed the direction and basis of this report.


Web Resources
What is Pluralism?
The Big “P” in the Field of the Arts
The Creative Case for Diversity: Innovation and Excellence in the Arts
This site has a number of excellent reports in its Resource section:
Hassan Mahamdallie sets out the Arts Council’s Creative Case for Diversity
in What is the Creative Case for Diversity?
The Role of Diversity in Building Adaptive Resilience, a paper by Tony
Nwachukwu and Mark Robinson commissioned by Arts Council England,
Beyond Cultural Diversity: The Case for Creativity compiled and edited by
Richard Appignanesi, commissioned by the Diversity Team of Arts Council
England, and produced by the art journal Third Text.
Highlights of Capacity Building Initiative, Equity Office, Canada Council for
the Arts, Oct. 2014
Aboriginal Arts Research Initiative, Report on Consultations, prepared by
France Trépanier


Sharing Space, edited by Falen Johnson, published by Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, 2013
Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything
Seizing Permission: The TLC Toronto Initiative, written & compiled by
Anne Dunning, Jane Marsland & Nello McDaniel
Choreographing our Future: Strategies for Supporting Next Generation
Arts Practice, by Shannon Litzenburger
Shared Platforms and Charitable Venture Organizations, by Jane Marsland
The blogs below have frequent articles on diversity and the arts.
You’ve Cott Mail, curated by Thomas Cott
HowlRound, A knowledge commons for and by the theatre community
Diane Ragsdale on what the arts do and why

Print Media:
Pluralism in the Arts in Canada: A Change is Gonna Come, by Charles C.
Across Oceans: Writings on Collaboration, Artists of the At HOME Project,
edited by Maxine Heppner
Published by Across Oceans, 2008

Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations,
and Society, by Peter Senge, C.OttoScharmer, Joseph Jaworkski, Betty Sue
Flowers, SoL (Society for Organizational Learning) Doubleday, New York,
NY 2005
The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki, Anchor 2005
The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative
Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, by Jeremy Rifkin, St. Martins
Press, 2014