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Emerging Trends in The Arts

Partnering for Change
Report For The Annual NASO Meeting, 2016

Table of Contents
1. Introduction

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2. Structure of the Report

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3. Plenaries and Small Group Discussions

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3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5

First Plenary Session
CADAC Presentation
Section Heads Sessions
Second Plenary Session
Issues from the Workshops
3.5.1 Process for NASO Grants and Funding Cap
3.5.2 Role of NASOs in New Funding Model
3.5.3 Research Required To Advance the Field
3.5.4 Indigenous Arts, Equity and Diversity
3.5.5 Summary of Consultant’s Report

4. Consultant’s Report

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1.

Introduction:

The annual meeting between Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) and the National Arts Services
Organizations (NASOs) was held on Thursday and Friday, February 18 and 19, 2016. The meeting
was held in the winter since there was the federal election held in the previous October, the
month when this meeting has been traditionally held.
Coordinated by a group of NASOs and administered by Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement
Ontario (CPAMO), this gathering was also qualitatively different than previous meetings. This was
attributable to:



CCA no longer played a role in the coordination and administration of the annual meeting;
A Coordinating Committee comprised of diverse NASOs was empowered to develop the
agenda for the annual meeting;
Several members of the Coordinating Committee were called upon to be resources for
workshops held during the gathering;
With the approval of the Coordinating Committee, an arts services organization, CPAMO,
took on the administration of the annual meeting instead of CCA staff.

Comprised of a diverse group of individuals and artistic disciplines, the Coordinating Committee
began its work in September 2015 and met monthly to address matters related to the program
and agenda. The minutes of the Committee are attached as Appendix A. While the Coordinating
Committee made all decisions regarding the program, CPAMO carried out the required tasks,
including:






coordinating all Committee meetings;
maintaining dialogue with CCA staff;
preparing all minutes for the Committee and correspondence to both NASO groups and
CCA;
preparing all promotional materials;
coordinating speakers and workshop resources;
managing the connections with specialized resources, e.g., translators, interpreters, food,
meeting space, technical support, research support and consultancies;
coordinating hotel accommodations and expense reimbursements.

This report provides an overview of the annual NASO meeting and includes information from the
following sources:
i. the report on the 2014 NASO annual meeting and the 2004 consultant’s report on the role
of NASO’s in the arts ecology and relationship to CCA;
ii. the materials approved by the NASO Coordinating Committee, i.e., correspondence to CCA
and NASO representatives, programs for the meeting, minutes of meetings;
iii. notes from the plenary sessions, meetings with CCA disciplines and the workshop notes as
prepared by the workshop facilitators;

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iv. notes and a report from the consultant retained by CPAMO to support the annual meeting
and to provide insight into how the meeting transpired and what might be logical next
steps;
v. a research document prepared to provide timely information to the NASO representatives
related to the themes addressed at the meeting;
vi. the post-meeting survey of those who attended the meeting.
Based on these sources, as well as previous reports submitted to address NASOs relationships to
CCA and between themselves, the Coordinating Committee is putting forward several
recommendations to guide the follow-up to the February 18-19, 2016 meeting and to build on the
aforementioned relationships. These recommendations are that:
1. the transition period noted by CCA (2016-2018) be used to convene annual meetings
between CCA and NASOs as coordinated by the NASO Coordinating Committee in
consultation with CCA and administered by CPAMO and that the next meeting be held on
October 23 and 24, 2016 with subsequent meetings held in October 2017 and 2018;
2. the CCA provide the financial support for the administration of the October 2016 meeting
and commit to funding the annual meetings for 2017 and 2018 with funding based on the
actuals for the February 2016 meeting;
3. the upcoming meetings between CCA and the NASOs continue the process of partnership
between CCA and NASOs and amongst NASOs. To develop this approach, the Coordinating
Committee invite NASOs to share their initiatives – e.g., research, strategic initiatives,
special projects, etc. – to be compiled and shared with NASOs and CCA and that CCA
provide the same in terms of matters that affect the field in which NASOs work and that
both of these exchanges are focused on the CCA New Funding Model and its implications;
4. the recommendations in the attached Consultant’s report be considered as the starting
point for developing the agenda for the NASO-CCA annual meeting in October 2016;
5. the CCA provide a clear definition and methodology on its approach to diversity, equity and
inclusion and how this will directly impact NASOs, particularly those emerging from the
communities discussed at the February 2016 meeting, i.e., women, the deaf, disabled and
mad, Official Language Minorities, Indigenous and racialized peoples;
6. to prepare for the 2018 meeting between NASOs and the CCA, in addition to the funding
noted in #2 and the focus noted in #3, that the CCA provide $10,000 for the Coordinating
Committee to contract a consultant in consultation with CCA to prepare a report on the
role and functions of NASOs in the new CCA funding model and the format for the ongoing
relationship between CCA and the NASOs, particularly related to the themes put forward in
the February 2016 meeting related to partnerships and the CCA New Funding Model.
To support the implementation of these recommendations, the NASO Coordinating Committee
will:
i. continue meeting regularly to develop an agenda for the October 2016 meeting;
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ii. request an analysis of NASO funding from CADAC to provide insight into the funding NASOs
receive and to identify any trends that need consideration in preparation for the
implementation of the CCA New Funding Model and for future meetings between NASOs
and CCA;
iii. canvas NASO representatives through a survey to identify issues relevant to the proposed
October 2016 agenda and consistent with the items raised at the February 2016 meeting;
iv. provide updates to NASO representatives on items related to the field and to further the
dialogue between NASOs that was centered in the February 2016 meeting.

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2.

Structure of the Report:

The annual meetings between CCA and NASOs began in 2006. These meetings represent an
opportunity to develop and sustain a dialogue between CCA and the diverse organizations that
support artists through the years of their practice with opportunities for:







professional and/or organizational development;
personal services, e.g., dental plans, health care packages;
networking, research and peer support;
strategic and/or operational planning;
public awareness, community engagement and audience development;
policy and program development, marketing, promotion;
engaging artists directly, through block bookings and supporting touring; and
speaking on behalf of the discipline/sector.

These services are consistent with the June 1995 “Report on the Funding of Arts Service
Organizations,” where the CCA provided a clear working definition of what a NASO is, i.e.:
“...organizations founded and directed by their members, who are professional creators,
interpreters, producers, distributors/disseminators and/or conservers in the arts and cultural
sector, to serve the collective interests of the membership, the constituency, and the public. They
may be discipline­specific or multi­disciplinary.” 1
In this context, these annual meetings have been beneficial to not only the growth of diverse
sectors and disciplines in the arts ecology, but are they lso vitally important to receiving from, and
providing to CCA information, challenges, ideas, research, strategies and recommendations aimed
at improving the vitality of their members and enhancing their capacities to engage communities
in supporting the arts.
The February 2016 meeting used the format and issues of the 2014 annual NASO meeting as a
starting point, particularly in the context of the Director and CEO of the CCA, Mr. Brault, and his
comments where he noted the importance of NASOs coming together in an annual meeting to
share knowledge, insights and best practices and said: “Coming together within and beyond the
arts community is imperative, now more than ever with the absence of a federal umbrella group. It
is in this strong web of interconnections, where diverse strengths, perspectives, and voices meet
and where innovation grows.” 2
Based on the above, this report is divided into the following sections:
i. The report on the meeting’s proceedings. This includes reporting on the plenaries and the
workshops;
ii. An analysis of the exchanges during the meeting as informed by the sources noted above;
1 See Roy MacSkimming's 2004 Report for CCA "Policy in Action: A Report on NASOs," quotes an earlier report from

1995 containing the CCA definition: (page 9 of MacSkimming 2004, quoting an earlier CCA report from 1995)
2 http://canadacouncil.ca/council/blog/10/2014/remarks-of-Mr.-brault

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iii. The report of the independent facilitator/consultant and her recommendations;
iv. Appendices that include the notes of the various workshops, the process for coordinating
this meeting, the power point presentations and the evaluation survey conducted shortly
after the meeting. (These are available on request).

3.

The Plenaries and Small Group Sessions:

Both the dialogue at the meeting and the post-meeting surveys indicate that the meeting was very
generative and that there was an energetic attitude throughout, e.g., thoughtful questions and
critiques regarding CCA’s New Funding Model and the Strategic Plan process; excellent content
from the sessions with Heads of CCA Sections and staff, as well as plenaries on collaboration and
digital technology platforms, and sessions on equity in the arts. Participants generally felt that the
items for discussion determined by the Coordinating Committee engaged participants across
artistic disciplines.
Based on the dialogue during both the plenary and workshop sessions, a number of key issues
were raised at the February 18/19 meeting. These were:
i.
ii.
iii.
iv.
v.
vi.

The Process for NASO Grants and the CCA Funding Cap;
The Roles for NASOs in the Future and the New Funding Model;
Research Required to Advance the Field;
Indigenous Arts, Equity and Diversity;
The Importance of Collaboration and Digital Technology;
Future Meetings Between NASOs and Canada Council.

These are discussed below in more detail following an overview of the meeting.

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3.1 The First Plenary Session:
The first presentation by Mr. Brault provided an important context for the meeting as a whole.
Participants were attentive and interested to hear all responses to the Coordinating Committee’s
questions for Mr. Brault, before engaging in general questions and discussions. Comments from
the floor included questions on the relationship between CCA and Department of Canadian
Heritage; on funding for the new generation; and on equity, specifically with regard to deaf,
disability and mad arts, racialized arts and on how this item will be included in jury assessments of
applicants for funding, including NASOs.
There were also particular concerns raised about the cap on funding and how that was
determined.
Other issues addressed in this plenary session included:








Discussion about the new funding model and how it will influence individual members of
organizations and those who work in specific disciplines (writers, publishers etc);
How the peer assessment will function and what resources will be required for the jurors
to make the assessment;
Discussion about NASOs roles to address challenges in the sector which other organizations
don’t address and how this can be shared with CCA to provide independent insight into
consideration of ongoing and emerging issues in the arts ecology;
How NASO meetings will be when CCA switches into the new model, e.g., will we sit in
discipline specific sections as in the past or will there be internal changes at CCA that will
impact on this?
While NASOs are mirrors to the disciplinary programs at the CCA,it is sad to see them go
away but also exciting to see the emerging multi-disciplinary trend;
As organization with considerable influence in the arts, in the Fguture NASOs can be an
opportunity to be part of the multi- disciplinary field, creation of new multi- disciplinary
body of knowledge. Given the many details in the new funding model, how doNASOs
understand its potential for such transformation?
What are the distinctions between inclusion and equity at the CCA and how is it being
articulated?
The new way of reporting financials for CADAC - how will this relate to the new funding
model and how does CADAC collect data on diversity and equity?
How do NASO’s practice equity? Also how do equity seeking NASOs practice equity?
Are there NASOs from Indigenous and equity groups? And, if so, how well are they
supported to do their work? And in comparison with other NASOs?
On the strategic plan: What focus is paid to new generations and how to clearly clarify the
category to include many representations of what new generation is?
Can there be a multidisciplinary focus for the future NASO meetings to support the shift in
the funding model?

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3.2 CADAC Presentation:
Operational since 2008, CADAC staff made a presentation that provided an historical perspective
on its purpose, role and function that included:
i. “informing assessment processes, research, policy and program development,
performance measurement and evaluation; and
ii. “providing data that helps demonstrate the value and reach of public funding of the arts.”
The presentation noted that in 2013 ASO’s had asked for both aggregated and disaggregated and
that now CADAC can provide such data once a year. Such data can be helpful to individual NASOs
who may now compare their members’ data with permission from their members and with their
members’ CADAC ‘IDs’.
NASOs can now also seek aggregated data that compares multiple years of data for organizations
with the same criteria or with diverse criteria, e.g., geographic, discipline specific, practice, not-forprofit v. for profit, and those with or without a charitable status.
This was seen by NASOs as a good opportunity to explore the range of projects and supports
across the field and to examine trends related to various criteria.

3.3 Sessions with Section Heads:
Following the CADAC presentation, there were small group sessions with CCA Section Heads.
While it is unclear how discipline-specific items will be considered in the future, these sessions
provided a useful opportunity for NASOs to address current and transition issues relevant to their
disciplines. Some of the key issues addressed included:

In the Aboriginal Arts session, there was a sense of a positive development, but also
caution. Also, it was recognized that there needs to be both an Aboriginal Arts Office, and
the integration of Indigenous artistic practices throughout programs of the CCA. Further,
in terms of projects that are initiated by non-Indigenous arts organizations or
collaborators, but that involve Indigenous artists, the issue will be how to move beyond
token initiatives, and, how can jury composition and terms of evaluation support the
recognition of initiatives that are truly grounded in Indigenous perspectives and support
the advancement of their practices.

Regarding equity, it was noted that there is a problematic categorization in the granting
system where traditional practices need to be given more than aesthetic acknowledgment.
It was unclear what the difference is for CCA between inclusive versus equity and this must
be addressed.

Equity seeking artists need to be more in touch with each other to reform the system of
stigma and assumptions. There was a need to revisit the language of equity that will
require advocacy at all levels.

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As national arts service organizations we may need to take more responsibility in changing
the practices of the arts nationally and internationally,

How are NASOs sharing resources? Are those resources generative or productive? And how
will CCA support dialogue with the NASO community?

NASOs have also generally mirrored the structure of programs/policies of funding bodies in
defining issues of concern. What will they mirror when the model of funding becomes nondisciplinary?

The heart of the CCA is its staff; will there be a sufficient number of program officers?
What are the skills that they require? What training and support will they receive? These
questions also apply to jurors.

3.4 Second Plenary Session:
The second day began with presentations by five individuals who have been working on
collaborative practices and/or digital technology. These focal points were placed on the agenda by
the Coordinating Committee to demonstrate developments in each of these areas and to respond
to one of the major concerns of CCA as written into its New Funding Model, particularly related to
digital technology for various purposes.
The presentations were made by: Jane Marsland, Jennifer Smith, Frederic Julien, Emma Quin and
Stephanie McAllister and are summarized below.
Jane Marsland provided an overview of her recent work for CPAMO entitled Thinking
Collaboratively, Acting Collectively: Creating a Collaborative Learning Community for Indigenous
and Ethno-racial Artists in Ontario (https://www.scribd.com/doc/289617413/ThinkingCollaboratively-Acting-Collectively). Based on this work, she addressed several issues she believed
relevant to NASOs in the context of the New Funding Model and emerging trends in the arts.
Some of her concerns noted the following:





Volatility of current environment – rapid change has outpaced our capacity to fully
understand it;
Increasing interconnectivity and interdependence – complexity of operating environment;
Mental models – traditional frames of reference no longer relevant for new context
Shift lens from scarcity to abundance, from self-contained organizations to networks, from
stable to flexible/adaptable;
What does sustainability really mean in the arts sector and what exactly is it that we are
trying to sustain? Are we ready to admit that ‘permanence’ may not be the right goal for
arts entities?
There has been tremendous activity and evolution in the Indigenous and Ethno-racial arts
sector – but it’s either not captured or compiled in available research so we don’t have a
clear picture of exactly what is happening or how to make sense of it;

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Also a sense that Canada is falling behind other countries in scope of research to assist the
sector to understand itself;
Current environment for the arts ranges from volatile to hostile and Arts entities coming
into the arts funding system since 2000 severely undercapitalized – facing historical
funding inequities – new funding models required;
If we as a sector want to develop a ‘sharing economy’ what will be the principles that drive
it? Equity, community and connection; Shared resources and shared ownership; Share
solidarity;
How can we work together to resist the pressure for more ‘earned revenue’ are we in this
to make money or make art/social change;
By sharing programs and tools we create reciprocal value – creates larger impact –
contributes to sustainability;
Ideas spread quickly if information and resources for replicating them widely available –
not guarded by single organization;
If we are working more collaboratively, are the funders able to resolve any emerging
challenges – need for additional granting deadlines, micro-loans, concern over ‘double
dipping’?
Will the grant application process be able to support collaborative ways of working? Based
For example, ensure peer assessment process understands new models;
What kinds of support do the emerging leaders who want to work collaboratively need?

Marsland’s presentation set the context for the next panelists who addressed both collaborative
projects now in development and uses of digital technology for audience and administrative
development. These presentations were structured by the Coordinating Committee for NASOs to
consider both the challenges and opportunities in this transitioning process and to shifting
emphasis towards cross-sectoral models and social enterprises that engage with the full spectrum
in the arts.
Jennifer Smith followed Marsland and provided insight into the development and promotion of a
collaborative project involving media arts organizations. Developed out of film and video
distributors’ roundtable discussions and studies on the potential role of the CCA in supporting the
livelihood of those in the media arts and improving accessibility to artists’ works, Vucavu, this
project involves eight organizations serving media artists and provides a platform for promotion,
education, public awareness and distribution of artists creations.
Smith provided a detailed summary of how this project came together, the importance of it as
seen by the collaborating arts organizations and artists and its potential impact in the
aforementioned areas. She pointed out that Vucavu:


is committed to increasing the visibility of Canadian independent film and video across
multiple platforms and across communities, while innovating in how we access, curate,
research and engage with film, video and exhibition works;
showcases auteur-driven media artworks by renowned and emerging artists, in both
French and English;
combines the collections of eight media arts distributors from across Canada. The robust
catalogue spans more than 45 years of creation and includes film and video works created

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at the inception of Canadian moving-image art, as well as contemporary works that
provoke, challenge and excite; and
The collaborative partners in the project are: Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre; Les Films
du 3 Mars; SPIRA; Video Out Distribution; Video Pool Media Arts Centre; Groupe Intervention
Video; and Winnipeg Film Group.
Emma Quin’s presentation was based on a current collaborative practice encouraged by the
Canadian Craft Federation (the NASO for contemporary Canadian craft) involving provincial and
territorial Craft Councils who combined efforts to promote craft nationally and to provide outlets
for craft practitioners to promote their works. In addition to demonstrating elements of the
campaign, Quin focused her comments on three main issues: (1) The Marketing Challenge; (2)
What the Craft Council’s Did; and (3) What the Craft Council’s Found Out:

In regard to the Marketing Challenge it was learned that it was important to: Increase
comprehension and relevance – clarify/deepen the public’s understanding of what craft
really is; Create a new public face for craft including look and feel that can be utilized
nation-wide to broaden awareness and understanding; and Create tactics for use by
associations to promote craft regionally and nationally;

Regarding actions the Craft Councils took: They looked at existing research here in Canada
and around the world, talked to stakeholders – makers, academics, gallery owners,
patrons, looked at similar fields – through case study and research and tapped into the
depths of knowledge of those on the Coordinating committee who have been involved in
Canadian craft for decades. They also looked at existing research here in Canada and
around the world.

Through this process, the collaborative partners discovered that defining Craft is a global challenge
as is broadening the audience for Craft. As such, a collaborative approach was seen as a timely
and important approach to addressing this issue.
Steph McAllister closed out the morning plenary
session with a focus on the uses of digital
technology for programming, engagement and
administration. She touched on several digital tech
tools – cloud-based applications, open APIs and
integrations, alternatives to email, shareability,
automation and data collection/analysis.
In
reviewing these tools, she suggested the following:




Forget about efficiency and focus on experience;
Aesthetically minded people are good at these technologies;
Administrative systems can reflect the organization’s principles;
That we should be inspired by the necessity of change;
Potential users should recognize their needs and plan accordingly, particularly looking at
starting with a pilot project or developing a collaborative project to share with another
organization.
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There were a number of issues that arose in the discussions following the presentations. These
include:








In ever-changing technological field, are there concerns about longevity of a platform? Or
is accepting that it is presence/time-based part of the strategy?
Bigger impact on the future is where we should spend more time;
Transparency in process is critical, while engaging in community is important to deliver
impact. Citizens are also a part of the artistic mandate for the future;
Understanding the way it works through processes important, particularly aving a high
awareness of the political process;
NASOs must demonstrate the impact in the future of the arts with a clear understanding of
the field and how it will be assessed by others;
Maturity in approach is needed in this transitional stage, one that embraces demographic
and creative change. For example, how do arts organizations demonstrate equity, diversity
and inclusion;
NASOs must re-imagine how arts organizations understand their role in the securing of
funding to understand scale;
Fragmentation in the field from the past 15 years problematic in the progression of
Canadian art making moving forward. This is something NASOs can address; and
Understanding change in process and in the future that can offer more nimble and direct in
the future will be needed.

3.5 Issues Arising from the Plenaries and Workshops:
While the commentary above provides an overview of the issues raised at this annual meeting,
there were several recurring matters that seem to require further investigation and dialogue
between CCA and NASOs, and between NASOs that were discussed in the February 19 afternoon
workshops. The following provides a summary of the common issues raised:





Clear definitions of equity and who is an equity-seeking group
Need to look at what appears as the under-resourcing of equity-seeking arts services
organizations;
Need to establish critical connections between equity-seeking arts services and between
these services and Indigenous arts services organizations
Need to explore and substantiate the degree of diversity in Indigenous and equity-seeking
groups and to challenge the homogeneity of funding categories, e.g., disabled, visible
minority, Aboriginal, etc;
Need to build relationships between equity-seeking arts services and established NASOs
Need to build understanding in the field and the public about the importance of Indigenous
and equity-seeking arts services to the overall health of the Canadian arts ecology.

While each workshop had its particular issues, these issues were seen as overarching and having
the potential for impact and development of collaborative approaches across the sector, with CCA
and with Indigenous and equity-seeking arts services.

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3.5.1 The Process for NASO Grants and Funding Cap
There were several concerns raised about future funding for NASO’s that relate to the New
Funding Model both with respect to the proposed funding cap and to discipline-specific v. or in
tandem with interdisciplinary assessments that seem to be how future grant applications will be
reviewed and funding determined.
A. Funding Cap. While it is acknowledged that this affects approximately 8% of NASOs funded by
CCA, there seems to be no rationale provided for why this is the case. Further, while it is
appreciated that there will be a two-year transition process before this takes effect, it was seen as
important to explain the reasons for this and to ensure that, if such a cap is put in place,
organizations affected will have the support needed to manage this transition. For example, what
are the kinds of organizations/disciplines most affected by the 60% cap? Why is their situation
different from other NASO’s? Does the CCA intend for the 60% cap to present a
challenge/opportunity for the development of new models for revenue generation and
sustainability? What are the implications of the 60% cap for new NASO’s and particularly NASO’s
that may arise specifically to address equity concerns in different disciplines or across disciplines
since there are no NASOs for various equity-seeking organizations – e.g., racialized peoples,
deaf/disabled and mad – and CCA may need to consider relaxing this approach to enable such
organizations to develop. This may be because the Income Tax Act, Section 149.1(6.4)National
Arts Services Organization: Section 149.1(6.4) of the Income Tax Act states the following:
“Where an organization that applies in prescribed form to the Minister of National Revenue for
registration, that Minister may register the organization for the purposes of this Act provided
the organization:
1. has, on written application to the Minister of Canadian Heritage describing all of its
objects and activities, been designated by that Minister on approval of those objects
and activities to be a national arts services organization
2. has, as its exclusive purpose and its exclusive function, the promotion of the arts in
Canada on a nation-wide basis,
3. is resident in Canada and was formed or created in Canada,
4. complies with prescribe conditions. Where the organization so applies or is so
registered, this section, paragraph 38(a.1), sections 110.1,, 118.1, 168, 172, 180 and
230 and Part V apply, with such modifications as the circumstances require, to the
organization as if it were an applicant for registration as a charitable organization or as
if it were a registered charity that is designated as a charitable organization, as the case
may be.”3
3 The activities of the organization must be confined to one or more of:

1. promoting of one or more art forms;
2. conducting research into one or more art forms
3. sponsoring art exhibitions or performances;

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While it is possible for a NASO to receive funding from CCA even if it hasn't obtained the
designation of Registered NASO under the Income Tax Act, many CCA-funded NASOs do
have Registered NASO status and as such, are subject to the legal requirements of the
Income Tax Act including being limited to the 11 types activities listed above. In this
context, it is a concern that CCA's expects NASO's to diversify their funding to include
significant levels of self-generated revenue as that may be incompatible with their
continuing to respect the criteria prescribed under the Income Tax Act.
B. Discipline Specific Issues. Several NASOs provide support to individual members – e.g.,
Playwrights Guild of Canada, Writers Union, etc – and many NASO’s deal with a specific discipline –
e.g., music, visual arts, dance, etc. Several concerns were raised regarding this and how such
NASOs will be able to continue to effectively support their members since CCA will no longer have
specific disciplinary funding;
C. Interdisciplinary Assessments. There was considerable concern about how assessments would
take place in the absence of specific disciplines. Some organizations have expressed concern that,
if they remain focused on a particular discipline, that it will be negatively affected in jury reviews
that are assessing across disciplines and possibly favouring interdisciplinary approaches.
D. Equity and Diversity. Now that this issue is to be applied across all funding streams, many
NASOs expressed concern about the definitions and metrics that will be used to guide such
assessments. Given the history of definitions and approaches to equity, there was not much
comfort in the position put forward in the CCA plenary that would support juries in arriving at
specific definitions and metrics. Many felt there should be a standard definition of equity based
on how the term and concept has been developed and that such should include clear goals and
timetables and clearly defined metrics, and that all juries and CCA staff should be well educated on
these. Further, since the Equity Office will no longer be a funding office, CCA needs to consider the
location of and support for equity-seeking groups that come from historically marginalized
communities and ensure that such groups are able to access funding to develop and sustain their

4. representing interest of the arts community or a sector thereof (but not individuals) before legal or governing
bodies;
5. conducting workshops, seminars, training programs and similar development programs relating to the arts for
members of the organization where such activity results in the members including the value of the program in
their income under paragraph 56(1)aa) of the Act;
6. educating the public about the sector represented by the organization;
7. organizing and sponsoring conventions, conferences, competitions and special events relating to the sector
represented by the organization;
8. conducting studies and surveys of interest to members of the organization relating to the sector represented by the
organization;
9. acting as an information centre by maintaining resource libraries and data bases relating to the sector represented
by the organization;
10. disseminating information relating to the sector represented by the organization;
11. paying amounts to which paragraph 56(1)n) of the Income Tax Act applies in respect of the recipient and which
relate to the sector represented by the organization.
Obtaining Registered NASO status under the Income Tax Act is a two-step process: first you get the designation from
the Minister of Heritage, then it's approved by the CRA. This allows you to operate as a charitable organization.

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work as catalysts in an evolving field, particularly as catalysts making major contributions to the
growth of the arts in Canada.

3.5.2 The Roles for NASOs in the Future and the New Funding Model
The February 2016 meeting with CCA was the first time that the NASOs, through the Coordinating
Committee and administered by CPAMO, set up the agenda and coordinated the process. This
was done in ongoing discussions with CCA staff and the annual meeting was presented as
Emerging Trends in the Arts: Partnering for Change, a topic that was both to provide space for a
conversation with CCA on the New Funding Model, CADAC about data and CCA Section Heads
about transition issues. This meeting also provided important forums for NASO representatives
for professional/organizational development on subjects that are both contemporary and that
directly match some of the directions CCA has announced as cornerstones for its New Funding
Model.
In this regard, the meeting was promoted as building ‘partnerships’ both with CCA and
between/amongst NASOs. In this context, there were several issues raised regarding:
A. Partnership With CCA. This meeting was purposefully titled Emerging Trends in the Arts:
Partnering for Change. In this context, the Coordinating Committee was intent on
furthering the relationship between CCA and NASOs as a partnership in which there would
be ongoing exchanges of research, strategies, concerns in the arts milieu and so on. At the
same time, the Coordinating Committee sought to provide opportunities for further
professional and organizational development of NASOs around shared critical issues. For
both, a structural approach is needed to ensure such can take place and that the
relationships are developed to support constructive movement forward. For CCA and
NASOs, it is critical to remain contemporary on issues impacting the field so as to provide
more effective support and services to NASO memberships and for applicants to CCA
funding. Between NASOs, it is important to share data, research, strategies that have the
potential to assist each other and to support artists both within and across disciplines.
B. Dealing with Relative Privilege and the Historically Marginalized. A key part of the
agenda for the February 18/19 meeting was the location of historically marginalized artists
and communities in CCA funding and in the arts ecology. Now that CCA has placed a
significant value on Indigenous arts, and equity and diversity, one issue that emerges
rather clearly is the relative disadvantage these groups face in developing identities,
programs and initiatives and, through these, providing important information on issues
emerging in the arts ecology. Of the groups present for the annual meeting, only six were
representing historically marginalized arts practices and communities. At the same time,
the arts practices these organizations represent are growing exponentially.
C. The importance of collaboration and organizational models, including mergers, to
address inter-disciplinary issues and the new funding model. In a moment when
disciplines are being collapsed, the annual NASO meetings provide an invaluable
opportunity to: (i) exchange models across disciplines; (ii) understand why certain models
of professional development, membership/services/resources/networking, etc. have

16

evolved in some disciplines and not others; and (iii) to share limitations imposed by a
discipline’s ecology.
D. Future Meetings Between CCA and NASOs.The CCA has articulated its intent, even before
the institution knows entirely how to turn it into a reality. This may create confusion and
anxiety, but it also opens an opportunity. NASOs have faced similar questions about the
changing ecologies of their artistic fields: changing demographics, aesthetics and
discourses, models of collaboration, technologies, audiences and communities, spaces and
site. The soundings that NASO’s may engage in to understand their role and relevance in
their communities might correspond in some ways to the CCA’s. For example, one
participant observed that discussion between CCA and NASOs has the potential to become
more expressive when it shifts away from funding, towards the question of how to
represent one’s community or ecology. These unresolved questions are an excellent
indicator of what may be worth pursuing. For example: What is the role of NASO’s in
animating discourse, in generating more specific, more urgent questions; and connecting
different levels of discourse across the country and across disciplines?And how can NASOs
share such information with CCA and with each other? It would seem that this can most
readily be done through the format of annual gatherings between CCA and NASOs and
structured similar to the February 2016 gathering.4
These issues seemed to be underlined by the following critical questions and concerns:

What is the role of NASOs in an ecology defined by the New Funding Model? How can
discipline-specific NASO services and resources be structured, in relation to a nondisciplinary funding model? NASO’s have generally waited for artists and arts organizations
to come to us; how do we go to them?

What will be the basis for relationships between artists/arts organizations and grants
officers in the New Funding Model? Interactions with the grants officers provide the
opportunity to gain perspective on what is happening in the ecology are important
feedback on unsuccessful (or successful) applications functions as professional
development opportunities for artists.

How do we encourage meaningful dialogue, from the jury, to the grants officer to the
artist, to contribute to the development of the art form? How do we do this in a way
without leading?

How do we maintain the ideal of a non-disciplinary, equitable funding model connected to
reality of artists’ practice? These questions apply to both the CCA and NASOs themselves.
For the CCA, the question may be, what is the potential of the jury to be not only an
evaluative body but a discursive, critical hub. Likewise, for NASOs, the question may be,
what is the potential for NASOs not only to set standards for the field, but to describe the
practice in as detailed and nuanced a way as possible.

4 The concepts explored here are based in part on notes prepared by the workshop facilitators as well as the report

prepared by Soraya Peerbaye.

17

3.5.3 Research Required to Advance the Field
The annual meeting identified several areas where research is needed to assist in moving the field
forward and providing shared data for ongoing dialogue between CCA and NASOs and between
NASOs. These areas are:
A. CADAC Data. The importance of this has been noted in Section 3.2 above;
B. Collaborative Practices and Digital Technology. In addition to the presentations and
workshops on February 19, further research on these two issues was conducted in a
separate report to be shared with CCA and the NASOs. As Marsland and McAllister had
noted in their presentations, there is much to learn from research on collaborative
practices and the use of digital technology to support them.
C. Impact Measures. There is increasing concern across the arts about its impact. Over the
years, there have been several attempts to set frameworks in which this can be measured,
e.g., economic, audience, community engagement, advancement of the arts practice.
These various frameworks have led to some confusion about what data is to be gathered
and how it is to be collected to provide evidence of impact. Further, it is unclear as to the
resources NASOs have to develop mechanisms to gather and report out on such data.
D. Official Languages, Equity/Diversity and Indigenous Issues. As Marsland pointed out in her
presentation and as was evident in the February 19 afternoon workshops, there is much
work to do in this area so that the arts community can engage in and develop a shared
analysis of issues related to these communities and their artistic practices, how they have
been treated historically and the promise they hold to the development of Canadian arts
and culture.

3.5.4 Indigenous Arts, Equity and Diversity
One of the challenges repeated over the two days focused on the way the CCA seems to use the
term “equity” as interchangeable with “diversity” in both the New Funding Model and the
strategic planning process. Mr. Brault has stated the CCA’s belief that “equity is now part of the
DNA of each program,” and certainly the emphasis on equity throughout the New Funding Model
is clear and reflects a wide range of discussions taking place across the arts as well, e.g., the
challenge to the lack of diversity in the 2016/17 seasons of major institutions such as CanStage.
But what “equity” is was not answered directly. Nor was a strategy discussed. While it is
understandable that the CCA is working on its systems, it is somewhat surprising that the CCA did
not put forward an approach to equity beginning with a statement of principles followed with how
those principles will be applied and implemented, how disparities will be identified and addressed,
how accountability will be ensured and the timelines to achieve equitable outcomes so that the
resources CCA makes available to the arts contributes to a transformation in our understanding
and appreciation of the diverse expressions that make up this land. The technologies to provide
the data and other required evidence to support this are subordinate to these principles.

18

Further, there are many models of equity implementation that the CCA is likely aware of since the
concept and practice of equity policy and implementation is a uniquely Canadian construct
ushered in during the mid 1980s and the report by (now) Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella
who not only defined the concept but also indicated its particular focus on historically
marginalized groups, i.e., Indigenous and racialized peoples, Francophones, women and persons
with disabilities. Given that there is no evidence to support that equitable outcomes for these
groups has been achieved, it would be important for CCA to acknowledge this at the outset of
setting the parameters for the New Funding Model and, based on this, indicate that it will develop
and implement strategies, including the designation of targeted resources, to achieve this.
In this regard, it is rather difficult to understand why the CCA has decided to move away from
targeted funding, excepting the Indigenous communities, for historically marginalized artists. It
raises several questions as to the basis for such, including:

What evidence does CCA have that equity in its programs has been achieved? If equity is a
collection of strategies/resources to ensure equality of outcomes, then there must also be
a clear objective for equality and indicators as to where we stand at this moment. If there
is such data, it has not been shared in the context of CCA’s funding and resource allocation
both in terms of the impact of previous funding programs now run out of the CCA’s Equity
Office and how these communities fare in discipline-specific categories;

Without the evidence noted in the previous point, why would the CCA move away from a
catalytic approach to support historically marginalized artists? This is critical since a
movement away from a catalytic approach should indicate acceptance in the field and a
shared analysis that CCA staff, juries and the arts communities would have to support the
further implementation of equity initiatives. From the presentations and conversations
during this annual meeting and ongoing conflicts in the arts communities on this, it is all
but certain that this has not been achieved. Further, as noted in the reports from the
February 19 afternoon workshops, there is much to be done to both support the
development of historically marginalized arts practices and to develop a shared analysis
within these communities as well as across CCA staff and prospective juries.

Another matter is the absence and/or relative underfunding of NASOs in various artistic
communities, i.e., deaf/disabled and mad, racialized, Indigenous. This is compounded by
the challenges these same artists and arts organizations face in developing relationships
with established NASOs. How will the New Funding Model address this and what does the
CCA consider at this time as an equity-seeking group and its relationship to an equity
strategy?

Finally, in returning to Marsland’s observation about the lack of data in Canada with regard to
ethno-racial diversity and equity, there are several outstanding issues that need attention,
including:

What is the status of CCA data with regard to Indigenous and racialized peoples, women,
deaf/disability/mad arts, Official Language Minorities etc.?

19

If the CCA will be collecting data on staff, board composition, programming,
audience/access etc. from applicants, how will this data be analyzed and who will do the
analysis? Will the data be shared publicly to demonstrate challenges or success in
implementation of the New Funding Model? How will organizations be treated if they do
not undertake appropriate actions on these now core criteria?

What is the role of Equity Office in all of this? How will it function as a way of framing
larger discourseon equity issues and how does it interact with each discipline so that there
is a discipline-specific understanding of equity, particularly given that different artistic
disciplines may vary in significant ways depending on their modes of training, creation and
production? Will that data be reported upon on aggregate level and publicly?

These are important matters to consider as NASOs move forward into the future and begin to
work with the CCA New Funding Model.

3. 5. 5 Summary of the Consultant’s Report:
To assist in facilitating the February 2016 meeting and to provide an independent perspective on
the issues raised at this meeting and possible ways to follow-up, CPAMO retained an external
consultant, Soraya Peerbaye, whose report is attached in its entirety at the end of this section.
Some of the key issues from that report are summarized here:
1. “Mr. Brault acknowledged that the inclusion of equity as an assessment criteria is a
significant new step that will be challenging for both the Council and the organizations it
supports. The question of how to apply this criteria, he said, will evolve in part through
peer assessment committees themselves. He also described plans for equity to be
activated not through targeted grants, but integration across all disciplines and programs;
the Equity Office will focus on policy and ensuring that Council programs are meeting their
objectives, and data will be made public and more accessible.
2. “In spite – or perhaps because – of the high degree of uncertainty about the model’s
implementation, what was most striking at the meeting were the reflections by NASOs on
their identity, their relationship to their field, and to the Canada Council, in a critical
moment. This was evident in the sessions that immediately followed Brault’s presentation,
when heads of sections and key staff of the Canada Council met with their constituents in
small groups.
3. “The New Funding Model is a potential contributor of research to the field; a cultural
product for potential artistic development. How can the New Funding Model engender a
feeling of community: of belonging, of abandoning silos and initiating conversations about
collaboration?
4. “How can NASO’s not duplicate services but provide services and resources that reinforce
each other? How do we build our sustainability?

20

5. “Is the 60% cap for NASO’s a limitation or a means of stimulating innovation? How can
NASO’s in turn support sectoral innovation for the field? The 60% cap may have a
significant influence on equity-driven NASO’s.
6. “Clear definitions and understanding are required: equity, diversity and inclusion are not
synonymous. Also, there needs to be professional development for jurors to address the
dynamics of inequity in assessment and allocation.
7. “Based on the presentation by Jane Marsland, “What does sustainability really mean in the
arts sector and what exactly is it that we are trying to sustain? Are we ready to admit that
‘permanence’ may not be the right goal for arts entities?”
8. “Marsland’s questions are broadly addressed to the sector, but in the context of the NASO
meeting they point to the role of NASOs as an essential partner to defining and building an
equitable infrastructure:





If we as a sector want to develop a ‘sharing economy’ what will be the principles that
drive it?
i. Equity, community and connection
ii. Shared resources and shared ownership
iii. Share solidarity
How can we work together to resist the pressure for more “earned revenue” – are we
in this to make money or make art/social change;
By sharing programs and tools we create reciprocal value – creates larger impact –
contributes to sustainability;
If we are working more collaboratively, are the funders able to resolve any emerging
challenges – need for additional granting deadlines, micro-loans, concern over “double
dipping”?
Will the grant application process be able to support collaborative ways of working?For
example, ensure peer assessment process understands new models;
What kinds of support do the emerging leaders who want to work collaboratively
need?

9. “Policy has often disempowered disabled artists: power that was built by disabled artists
through community networks was transferred to advocates who are non-disabled artists.

The equity framework can be limiting; can restrict the issue to one of access. In other
words, an equity identity can institutionalize a perception of disabled arts as incapable;
creating dependency on another group to correct the issue, rather than ceding power to
disabled artists to teach, lead and change understanding.
Different kinds of disability arts approaches: artists with a disability; disability-inclusive
arts; and career-tracked disabled artists producing disability-identified arts. How do we
develop a more expansive definition of excellence, so that we can recognize the
evolution of these practices?
The need for funding and the articulation of deaf/disability/mad practices into the core
of the arts ecology: integration.”

21

In this context, Peerbaye puts forward six recommendations. These are:





NASOs should address issues arising from the New Funding Model and the Strategic Plan.
NASOs should sustain and expand the theme of collaborative practices and digital
strategies.
NASOS should define their role in advancing equity in the sector.
CCA should define public objectives in establishing equity and diversity as an assessment
criteria; to identify quantitative and qualitative measures of progress towards equity; and
to identify means of public reporting.
CCA should define the mandate of the Equity Office.
CCA should collaboratively examine its role in supporting broader research on equity and
diversity.

Peerbaye provides a rationale for each of these recommendations in her report that follows in the
next section.

22

Consultant’s Report
2016 Meeting of the National Arts Service Organizations
Emerging Trends in Canadian Arts: Partnering for Change
Prepared for:
Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario
&

NASO Coordinating Committee:
Maegen Black - Canadian Craft Council
Kate Cornell – Canadian Dance Assembly
Michele Decottignies – Deaf, Disabled and Mad Arts Alliance of Canada
Emmanuel Madan – Independent Media Arts Alliance
Kevin A. Ormsby – Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario
Moira McCaffrey – Canadian Art Museums Directors Organization
Carol Ann Pilon – Federation Culturelle Canadianne Francaise
Charles Smith – Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard – The Ad Hoc Assembly
Clayton Windatt – Aboriginal Curatorial Collective
Submitted by:
Soraya Peerbaye

April 8, 2016

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Introduction
The 2016 Meeting of the National Arts Service Organizations was coordinated by Cultural Pluralism
in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) and the NASO Coordinating Committee, and held at the
Canada Council for the Arts, February 18 – 19, 2016. I was engaged by CPAMO to co-facilitate the
meeting with CPAMO Executive Director Charles Smith and Program Associate Kevin Ormsby.
CPAMO and the NASO Coordinating Committee are authoring the primary report on the meeting;
this secondary report is intended as an independent perspective on themes that could be
developed at the next NASO meeting, scheduled to take place in October 2016.

The New Funding Model
The New Funding Model of the Canada Council for the Arts, currently in development, was the
touchstone of conversations throughout the meeting. Mr. Brault, Director and CEO of the Council,
addressed the participants in the opening session, responding to a set of 12 questions prepared by
the Coordinating Committee regarding the New Funding Model, the Strategic Plan, and the
anticipated increase in funds from the Government of Canada.
Brault emphasized that the increase was potentially “exceptional”, and that the objective is for its
impact to be felt across a generation. He was mindful of the discussions on equity and diversity
taking place across the arts sector. He also noted that the development of the New Funding Model
has led to “substantial” discussions comparing practices across disciplines. The model is intended
to reflect the profound changes that have taken place in the sector, both demographically and
creatively.
While the logistics of implementation are still being determined, Brault’s comments on the
model’s strategic foundation provided key points for NASOs to consider. Brault highlighted the
Council’s commitment to Indigenous artistic practices, one of the six streams in the New Funding
Model. He also returned often to the theme of knowledge exchange, through peer assessment
committees, reporting by artists and arts organizations, best practices, new organizational models
and interdisciplinary dialogue.
Brault acknowledged that the inclusion of equity as an assessment criteria is a significant new step
that will be challenging for both the Council and the organizations it supports. The question of
how to apply this criteria, he said, will evolve in part through peer assessment committees
themselves. He also described plans for equity to be activated not through targeted grants, but
integration across all disciplines and programs; the Equity Office will focus on policy and ensuring
that Council programs are meeting their objectives, and data will be made public and more
accessible.
NASO’s will receive funding through the Supporting Artistic Practice stream. The decision to cap
grants to NASO’s at 60% of their revenue affects 8% of NASOs supported by Council clients; there
will be a 2-year grace period before the cap is enforced. Brault noted that the Council will support
NASOs for the programs and services they provide and that the Council is seeking a renewed
relationship with NASOs, said Brault, informed by a renewed relationship between NASOs and
their members.

24

NASOs in the New Funding Model
In spite – or perhaps because – of the high degree of uncertainty about the model’s
implementation, what was most striking at the meeting were the reflections by NASOs on their
identity, their relationship to their field, and to the Canada Council, in a critical moment. This was
evident in the sessions that immediately followed Brault’s presentation, when heads of sections
and key staff of the Canada Council met with their constituents in small groups. The reports from
these sessions were presented in plenary, and yielded a rich set of considerations and questions.
Kevin Ormsby later reorganized these comments by theme rather than discipline; I have followed
his lead here, with some adjustments.
New Funding Model:
 The New Funding Model is a potential contributor of research to the field; a cultural
product for potential artistic development.
 How can the New Funding Model engender a feeling of community: of belonging, of
abandoning silos and initiating conversations about collaboration?
 How will peer assessment take place? What resources will peers receive to assess in a
multidisciplinary context?
NASOs: Identity & Community
 What will NASO meetings look like in the future?
 NASO’s have traditionally mirrored the disciplinary programs at the Canada Council. What
could they mirror in the future?
 A sense of anxiety and loss, but also of excitement. What does this represent as an
opportunity for NASOs? What can we contribute to a new multidisciplinary body of
knowledge? What are the new possibilities for innovations and collaborations across
NASO’s? What role can NASOs play in advocacy and the development of best practices?
NASOs can identify changes and evolutions within the field.
 A shift that requires presence and engagement.
NASOs: Sustainability
 The discussion is limited when one focuses on the issue of money, but becomes more
expressive when it shifts to how to represent membership.
 What is the state of the discussion around membership fees? What is the meaning of a
fee? Does it represent significant revenue, or a gesture of solidarity from the community?
 How can NASO’s not duplicate services but provide services and resources that reinforce
each other? How do we build our sustainability?
 The root of the word “curation”, “curatus”, “care”. How does Canada Council care for a
NASO organization in the New Funding Model?
 Is the 60% cap for NASO’s a limitation or a means of stimulating innovation? How can
NASO’s in turn support sectoral innovation for the field?
 The 60% cap may have a significant influence on equity-driven NASO’s.

25

NASOs & Artistic Practice
 How to conduct interdisciplinary, intercultural and intergenerational conversations? How
to ensure the transference of knowledge?
Aboriginal Arts Office:
 A step has been taken to recognize Indigenous arts as a strong and active sector. A sense of
a positive development, but also caution; wait-and-see as to how new funds will be
distributed to Indigenous arts programs.
 Importance of both an Aboriginal Arts Office, and integration of Indigenous artistic
practices throughout programs of the Canada Council; the need for a shared analysis.
 Collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists: issue will be how to move
beyond token gestures; how can jury composition and assessment support the recognition
of initiatives that are grounded in Indigenous perspectives, and the advancement of these
practices.
Equity Office:
 Clear definitions and understanding are required: equity, diversity and inclusion are not
synonymous.
 Continuing issues with restricted notions of “professionalism” in artistic practice.
 There needs to be professional development for jurors to address the dynamics of inequity
in assessment and allocation.

An Equity-Based Model for Funding and Infrastructure
Development
Jane Marsland’s presentation, Thinking Collaboratively, Acting Collectively: Creating a
collaborative learning community for Indigenous and Ethno-racial artists in Ontario, opened the
second day of the meeting, mapping the discourse that has evolved about the arts sector and its
relationship to funding models. Marsland outlined her now widely accepted analysis, which
connects artistic practice, cultures of organizing, and emerging technologies, and made clear how
deeply that analysis is rooted in an equity-based perspective. She asked: “What does sustainability
really mean in the arts sector and what exactly is it that we are trying to sustain? Are we ready to
admit that ‘permanence’ may not be the right goal for arts entities?”
Marsland advocates for the necessity to develop “fluid and adaptable” processes, and an
infrastructure to support shared/collaborative practices. She sees opportunities in the Canada
Council’s New Funding Model and Strategic Plan, as well as the Metcalf Foundation’s collaboration
with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council and the
Canada Council to establish a Shared Charitable Platform, and initiatives led by arts venues.
But she also points to gaps in the research which need to be addressed to maintain the integrity of
an equity foundation for any model of funding or infrastructure, notably the lack of research on
the “tremendous activity and evolution in the Indigenous and Ethno-racial arts sector.” As a result,
she says, “we don’t have a clear picture of exactly what is happening or how to make sense of it.”
More broadly, she suggests that “Canada is falling behind other countries in scope of research to

26

assist the sector to understand itself.” She proposes a think-tank or institute approach to remedy
the situation.
Other challenges she identifies include the lack of funding for digital innovation and the need to
develop arts, technology and research partnerships to develop shared/collaborative platforms; the
need for more management providers; and the need to develop producers whose mindset is
entrepreneurial rather than institutional.
Marsland’s questions are broadly addressed to the sector, but in the context of the NASO meeting
they point to the role of NASOs as an essential partner to defining and building an equitable
infrastructure:






If we as a sector want to develop a ‘sharing economy’ what will be the principles that drive
it?
- Equity, community and connection
- Shared resources and shared ownership
- Share solidarity
How can we work together to resist the pressure for more “earned revenue” – are we in
this to make money or make art/social change
By sharing programs and tools we create reciprocal value – creates larger impact –
contributes to sustainability
If we are working more collaboratively, are the funders able to resolve any emerging
challenges – need for additional granting deadlines, micro-loans, concern over “double
dipping”?
Will the grant application process be able to support collaborative ways of working?
For example, ensure peer assessment process understands new models
What kinds of support do the emerging leaders who want to work collaboratively need?

Deepening the Discourse around Equity
The sessions in the afternoons brought extraordinary nuance to issues of equity, challenging the
often homogenizing notion of “inclusion” and working through more complex issues of equality,
engagement and discourse. The discussions here point to the work that is necessary in the field, in
peer assessment committees, and in policy and program delivery.
Racialized peoples: led by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard and Kevin A. Ormsby
 The need to differentiate acknowledgement of diversity from engagement with equity.
Language is intimately connected with our intentions.
 How to we gather data and trace discourse so that we can evaluate progress and
achievements? How to expand the discourse from equity to issues of post-colonialism and
contemporaneity? Can the dialogue on equity address the binaries and hierarchies in
understandings of “traditional” v. “contemporary” artistic practices?
 Important for NASOs to fully understand the potential of equity, both in the Canada
Council’s New Funding Model, and in the field. NASOs can act as bridges.

27

Women: led by Rebecca Burton & Sophie Le Phat
 A perception that gender equality has been achieved, but sexism and patriarchy work at
different levels and scales: society, sector or discipline, the workplace.
 Women are underrepresented in positions of artistic leadership, and overrepresented in
administrative roles and precarious jobs.
 There is little discussion of pay equity and working conditions.
 Gender equality needs to be on the agenda of equity, including the Canada Council’s New
Funding Model.
 Gender equality needs to be approached with an intersectional lens, also looking at race,
sexuality, class, ability etc.
 Collaborative models work against precarity.
Indigenous people: led by Cole Alvin & Clayton Windatt
 Dismay that the potential of increased resources for Indigenous arts at the Canada Council
coincides with the cessation of grant programs through the Equity Office, and the lack of
clarity on how equity issues will be monitored.
 What are the implications of building the profile of the new funding model on
reconciliation and engagement with Aboriginal artists/arts organizations? Indigenous arts
organizations are now being approached to engage in cross-cultural partnerships; the
challenge of differentiating between approaches that are genuine, and those that are
opportunistic.
 Discussion on terms such as “decolonization”; the principle that this is meant to hold, vs.
the reality: settlers aren’t returning to their country/continent of origin. How do we hold
terms such as “decolonization”, “Indigenization” etc.? Terminology is fluid; a moment
where we are attempting to name a process; the term as a placeholder while we recognize
the dimension of the problem.
Official Language Minorities: led by Carol Ann Pilon and Blanche Israel
 A review of the major strategies: Official Languages Act, La Feuille de route pour les
langues officielles 2013 – 2018, and Entente de Collaboration pour le développement des
arts de la culture des communautés francophones en situation minoritaire du Canada.
 A review of current demographics.
 A review of current initiatives in different disciplines and parts of the sector (marketing,
training and professional development).
Deaf, Disability & Mad Arts: led by Susan Lamberd and Michele Decottignies
 Decottignies described this as a NASO-to-NASO conversation, and appealed for networking
and information-sharing to assist her in developing a NASO for deaf/disability/mad arts.
 Policy has often disempowered disabled artists: power that was built by disabled artists
through community networks was transferred to advocates who are non-disabled artists.
 The equity framework can be limiting; can restrict the issue to one of access. In other
words, an equity identity can institutionalize a perception of disabled arts as incapable;
creating dependency on another group to correct the issue, rather than ceding power to
disabled artists to teach, lead and change understanding.
 Different kinds of disability arts approaches: artists with a disability; disability-inclusive
arts; and career-tracked disabled artists producing disability-identified arts. How do we

28

develop a more expansive definition of excellence, so that we can recognize the evolution
of these practices?
The need for funding and the articulation of deaf/disability/mad practices into the core of
the arts ecology: integration.

Impressions
We are at a moment when the Canada Council for the Arts has articulated a vision, but is still in
the process of turning it into a reality. This may provoke anxiety, wariness or frustration, but it also
opens an opportunity for NASOs and the artists and arts organizations they represent. NASOs face
similar questions as the Council about the changing ecologies of their fields: changing
demographics within artistic communities and audiences; changing aesthetics and discourses;
models of collaboration; spaces, sites and technologies. As one participant observed, while one
may wish to secure the sustainability of NASOs through continuing and increasing funding, the
dialogue becomes most expressive when it returns to the question of how to relate to one’s
community. Can the Council and NASOs act as reciprocal filters for self-reflection, critique, and the
development of potential? How can this inform the New Funding Model? How can this inform
NASOs’ contributions to the infrastructure of the arts?
The Canada Council for the Arts appears to be moving towards an equity-based model of funding;
it is profoundly influenced by contemporary considerations of sustainability that are grounded in
ethics of diversity and mutuality. If this is a model we want to realize as a sector, then we must
step beyond questions of distribution of funding or even representation at the table: we need to
move to a deeper discourse on how we reflect the richness of Canadian culture. It is in this spirit
that the recommendations below are made.

Recommendations for Fall 2016 NASOs Meeting
The following recommendations are intended to contribute to the development of the agenda for
the fall 2016 NASOs meeting; conducting a formal or informal sounding of NASO’s will ensure that
these themes align with the interests of all participants. The Coordinating Committee will also
need the collaboration of the Canada Council for the Arts to contextualize issues related to the
New Funding Model and the Strategic Plan.
i. Address issues arising from the New Funding Model and the Strategic Plan.
Key issues include:
 Peer assessment in the New Funding Model: how will non-disciplinary peer assessment be
facilitated? How will diversity be applied as an assessment criteria? What resources are
needed, internally and externally, to support peers and officers? What training? How can
NASOs assist?
 The new maximum for core funding to NASO’s of 60% of total revenues: what kinds of
NASOs will be affected, in what disciplines, and why? What are the implications for new
NASOs and NASOs that may arise specifically from equity-seeking communities?
 Membership representation and outreach: what issues are NASOs facing regarding
expanding and/or diversifying membership? What are other models of representation
29

besides paid membership? What are the opportunities and limitations presented by NASO
mergers?
ii. Sustain and expand the theme of collaborative practices and digital strategies.
The presentations by Jennifer Smith of Video Pool, Frédéric Julien on behalf of The Audience
Agency, Steph McAllister of Framework Foundation and Emma Quin of Craft Ontario all provided
valuable case studies and stimulated much discussion. Both the themes of collaborative practices
and digital strategies are key, and should be sustained and expanded to themes that reflect other
innovative practices in the sector. These include: interdisciplinary arts; intersectoral arts (health,
environment, science etc…); community-engaged arts; alternative models of organization, e.g.,
social enterprises, cooperatives, collective ownership, etc.
It is also worth noting that the presentation by CADAC staff on the new capability to access data
on the membership of NASOs sparked much interest; a demonstration that focuses on how to
generate and interpret this kind of data could also be valuable to NASOs individually and
collectively. This could be further developed with working sessions that allow participants to
imagine both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary research collaborations.
iii. Define the role of NASOs in advancing equity in the sector.
The discussion on equity issues should be sustained and developed specifically as they pertain to
NASOs. These include: equity, membership, representation and outreach; developing a disciplinespecific understanding of equity in the development of infrastructure (training, creation &
production, dissemination, community dialogue, public/critical response etc.); and innovative
strategies to advance equity in the arts. Resources for the latter could include Promoting Diversity
of Cultural Expression in Arts in Australia: A case study report.5
The integrity of an equity-based model depends on a sustained and multi-faceted attention to
equity. The participants’ critique of the Canada Council’s vague use of the term “equity” in the
description of the New Funding Model and Strategic Plan is important. But the corresponding
question to consider is, what is the role of NASO’s in informing this issue? There are many current
examples of the struggle to achieve equity in different fields, as evidenced by recent flares on
social media: the reaction to Canadian Stage on the lack of playwrights and directors of colour in
the company’s 2016/17 season; the reaction to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on the absence
of women composers in the 2016 New Creations Festival; or community arguments on misogyny
and homophobia in literary criticism. Further discussion could contribute to developing knowledge
and perspectives on equity issues as they are currently expressed in different artistic fields, and
could be supported with working sessions that allows participants to imagine initiatives that
address these issues. The issue of equity is a vital example of the Council’s and NASOs’
interdependency. The Canada Council is in a position through the New Funding Model to gather
data; but both the Council and NASOs are in critical positions to survey the evolution of the
discourse.

5

Promoting Diversity of Cultural Expression in Arts in Australia, by Dr. Phillip Mar &Distinguished Professor Ien Ang,
Australia Council for the Arts, Sydney, 2015.

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Recommendations for Action
The following is a recommendation for action by the Coordinating Committee arising from the
winter 2016 NASOs meeting:
1. Recommend to the Canada Council for the Arts to define public objectives in establishing
diversity as an assessment criteria6; to identify quantitative and qualitative measures of
progress towards equity; and to identify means of public reporting.
This need was emphatically stated by participants, emerging from a critique of both the language
and the design of the New Funding Model. Clarity on this issue benefits the arts community as a
whole, but also NASOs themselves in understanding assessment, and the sectoral objective they
are contributing to. Examples that should be critically examined as models for public reporting on
equity include the Arts Council of England’s Equality, Diversity & The Creative Case.7
2. Recommend to the Council to re-define the mandate of the Equity Office.
Participants stressed the potential of the Equity Office to function as an agent to frame a larger
discourse on diversity and equity; and to interact with each discipline so that we also gain a
discipline-specific understanding of challenges and solutions. It is worth noting that in the context
of the winter 2016 NASOs meeting, equity-seeking groups were defined along a spectrum that
does not exactly mirror the role of the Canada Council’s Equity Office. The Equity Office was
originally established to house discourse on racial equality in the arts; the expansion to include
strategic programs for Indigenous arts communities and deaf/disability arts communities, and to
advice on policy for official language minorities, is very recent. The NASOs meeting also included
women as an equity-seeking group on the agenda. These fluxes should be considered and made
intentional, especially in light of the current discourse on intersectionality; it will be essential to
(re)align the Equity Office’s mandate with the objectives of the New Funding Model.
3. Collaboratively examine the role of Council in supporting broader research on equity and
diversity.
Gathering data is more than an evaluation of success or failure; it is a contribution to a literature
and a field of study, and a reflection on our own evolution. It is worth remembering Jane
Marsland’s observation in this regard: “Canada is falling behind other countries in scope of
research to assist the sector to understand itself.” With that in mind, the Coordinating Committee
should recommend to the Canada Council that it examine Marsland’s suggestion of a think-tank,
and the role that Council could play in supporting this approach.

6

“Canada Council’s diversity focus brings new opportunities, challenges.” J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail,
January 15, 2016.
7
Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case: A data report, 2012 – 2015, Art Council of England, 2015.

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Conclusion
Mr. Brault has elsewhere expressed a desire for peer assessment committees to serve as means of
gathering knowledge on the sector, and not only assessment and allocation; or for final reports to
define learning, and not only success or failure. Likewise, one participant asked, how can NASOs
do more than set standards for the field, and instead describe the practice in as detailed and
nuanced a way as possible?
This is a pivotal moment, and not only because of the introduction of the New Funding Model. The
model is the landscape. How, then, do we maintain the ideal of an equitable funding model and
infrastructure connected to the reality of artists’ practice? How do we encourage meaningful
dialogue to contribute to the development of the art form? How do we do this in a way without
leading? NASOs are a potential hub to generate more specific, more urgent questions; and
connecting different levels of discourse across disciplines and across the country. These are the
ways that we can nurture dialogue, exchanges and partnerships, both for NASO’s themselves, and
for their members.

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