When the Foundation was first approached by the editors of The Philanthropist to curate a series of articles on arts and culture philanthropy in Canada, Metcalf President and CEO Sandy Houston was immediately intrigued. In the first article, Setting the Stage: A New Series on the Public Value of Arts and Culture in Canada, Sandy outlines the purpose of the series, stating that he sees it as an “opportunity to highlight the current state of the field, to animate some of the pressing questions it is facing, and to illuminate the impacts and the benefits that flow from arts and culture”.
Author Kelly Wilhelm, an Ottawa-based strategist who has worked with organizations such as the Canada Council for the Arts and the Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, brings a wealth of knowledge to the second article, A Balancing Act:Supporting the Arts in Canada. Kelly begins with a brief historical outline of support for the arts in Canada, moves on to contrasting the Canadian funding model with those found in the United States and Europe, before summarizing the challenges the sector currently faces. She concludes by arguing that the sheer growth in the number and diversity of art forms and organizations necessitates the evolution of complementary new collaborations between public and private partners.
The Art of Impact: Reflections from Five Canadian Artists, our third article, is a collection of personal and evocative statements from a group of artists reflecting on the value that their art brings to their communities. Those featured include artistic director and playwright Marcus Youssef, playwright Hannah Moscovitch, actor and director Antoni Cimolino, cellist Cris Derksen, and dancer and choreographer Mélanie Demers. The article provides an intimate look into how these artists imagine that their work resonates with the public, why they feel it matters, and how they sense their intentions will be received; unfiltered sense-making from the artist’s perspective.
The fourth instalment, Performing Artists Speak, features a series of three two minute videos with artists and administrators from three extraordinary and diverse companies: The Musical Stage Company, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, and Why Not Theatre. In these short films, we hear from the artistic and administrative leadership. They address questions such as: What role has philanthropy played, and what role does it continue to play in adding value to their creative visions? How do these artists and managers see the connection between their art, their audiences, and their relationships with philanthropy? And finally, what advice would they give to philanthropists about how to engage with the arts? Cutting between interviews and performance footage, these compelling videos go straight to the heart of these questions.
In Whose Art is it Anyway? cultural journalist Kate Taylor looks at how organizations from Halifax to Vancouver wrestle with the impacts of the digital revolution that is shaking up both the front and back of the house, and impacting the bottom line. Both creator and destroyer, technology is evolving at a faster and faster pace, creating profound challenges for the performing arts. “Artists who ignore these changes do so at their peril,” Taylor writes.
The series concluded in mid-November 2019 with an article from Metcalf’s Performing Arts Director Michael Trent. In the article A Leading Role: How Philanthropy Can Support Arts and Culture in Canada, he examines how we can better harness the power of philanthropy to enhance the public value of the arts in Canada and further unleash our creative potential.