- Posted by Terry Rock on January 27th, 2011
For about 3 years, the words “Lead with Culture” have been popping up in my notebook, on presentations, in speeches, on our annual report, and finally, as the title of our latest draft strategic plan (by the way, the shiny, designed, edited, public, version of that draft plan will be made available as soon as possible… the essence of it you’ll find in this blog series… ). For us, this phrase serves as a kind of mantra, a reminder of the potential of the sector we work for: the potential to define our city, to humanize the day to day, to engage young minds and keep the spark alive for those of us who are young in spirit, to generate economic returns in new and exciting ways, and to regenerate tired neighbourhoods. It is also no stretch to say that Calgary artists are making tremendous contributions to the cultural canon of the world on a consistent basis. If Calgary decides to lead with culture, the returns will reach every corner of the city, and the ripple effects will be felt in every sector, reaching well beyond our city.
The other three words give a flavour of how this all comes together: a thriving art scene, resonating in Calgary and around the world, energizing our citizens and communities. That’s why we do what we do. And if you look around the world, you’ll find that most interesting cities are investing in the arts for this reason. The differentiator is how they go about it. That’s where we come in.
What is an Arts Development Authority Good At and Good For?
Our approach to what we do has always been reflective. We know what we don’t know, and we’re always questioning what’s working and what isn’t. We’re big on analysis, reflection, debate and discussion. Because we’re consciously working to change the landscape to make it more fertile for the growth of the arts sector, if we’re successful, our programs and activities need to adapt to the new reality. If we’re not successful, then we should be changing our programs and activities to get better results. Bottom line: self-reflection is built into our organizational DNA.
What have we learned? The biggest insight is this: Calgary Arts Development is an enabling organization. We create the conditions for success: of Calgary and its citizens and of the arts sector and its organizations and artists.
Here’s a little admission: being an “enabling organization” is often a tough sell. The majority of the payoff for the work we undertake comes long into the future. Sure, we can point to short-term, direct outcomes, but we’re most interested in what happens in the long term.
That core insight is supported by several statements that we think capture nearly everything you need to know about our organization, how we work, and what we think we’re good at and good for:
- We view the arts sector as an ecosystem in which individuals are as important as the largest institutions.
- Our intent is always to add capacity, build foundations, and create connections. Through this work, we build and leverage an informed and unified voice, inside and beyond the arts sector.
- Increasing the capacity of Calgary’s arts sector is a complex undertaking that requires taking calculated risks, trusting and earning the trust of our community, employing new methods that may not have precedent anywhere in the world, and doing all of this with wisdom, enthusiasm and vigor.
- We strive to be wise investors with a view to the long-term future, whose privileged perspective, deeply rooted in an understanding of our community, is our greatest asset.
- We are willing to take risks on Calgary’s artists, because we believe in their ability to transform our city.
- Our investments, which we recognize as interventions in a system, can take many forms, including funding, facility provision, training, marketing, facilitation, and advice.
- When we make investments, we do so knowing that other orders of government and actors in and out of the sector are making similar investments. We respect their mandates and do what we can to ensure our investments are synergistic.
- Bringing an informed perspective to our partners and The City of Calgary is a vital responsibility of ours.
- When we are successful, when our investments pay off, the environment changes. We must therefore remain agile, adaptable and responsive while keeping our eye on the long-term future.
In my next post, I’ll review our first 5.5 years of activity, which was about “first things first,” and setting the stage for inspiring growth in the future.
- Posted by Terry Rock on January 27th, 2011
It’s been far too long since I’ve used this channel to talk about what Calgary Arts Development is up to. As a result, I’ve got a whole bunch of news to share. Some big news. Some not so big. Some observations. Some requests. Mostly, I hope you consider this series of blog posts an invitation to join us as we step forward into new, exciting and uncharted waters for the arts in Calgary!
Community Engagement is a State of Being
About a week ago, I sent a tweet that read “community engagement is a state of being, not an event.” This is a quote from a presentation I made at a conference in Ottawa in 2008 regarding the processes we used to create our Art Spaces Strategy and Capital Plan. The tweet was widely circulated, well outside my usual network. When that happened, I knew I had to put my money where my tweeter is: is Calgary Arts Development actually “engaged with the community?” Do we really understand the top priorities of the arts and culture sector in Calgary? Do we really understand the unique value of the Calgary arts scene to the lives of Calgarians? Are we really set up to deliver on those priorities? Answers: Pretty sure. Pretty sure. Not yet.
The best way to test whether we really know our stuff is to tell you about our latest strategic plan and the team we’re building to deliver on that plan. In doing so, I’ll try to throw in some observations about why we’re moving in the directions we’ve chosen. I’ll also tell you how you can get involved in refining those directions through some new initiatives that I think will ensure that Calgary Arts Development remains “engaged with the community” in deeper and more meaningful ways going forward.
As a quick preview, there are three main changes you’ll notice in what we do:
- A strong move into advocacy: we will use our platforms and perspective to tell a compelling story of the impact of the arts on life in Calgary, and on the impact of our investments on the capacity of the arts sector to perform at ever increasing levels of excellence. You’ll see research initiatives, policy development, white papers, events and compelling writing about the arts in Calgary. All of that will be open to your participation.
- Proactive art space development: In 2010, we hired Reid Henry to head up our Art Space Initiatives portfolio, and by the end of the year, had opened Seafood Market Studios in partnership with CMLC. In 2011, Reid’s team will grow, along with our capacity to ensure that there are more affordable multi-tenant facilities for small organizations and individual artists. Artist-focused housing will also be a new part of our thinking, including our support for policy change that makes housing for artists more affordable.
- Proactive resource development: During the past 4 years, as we’ve seen our granting portfolio grow from $2.3M to $4.4M, we’ve come to realize that our primary value is in developing new sources of resources that can then be invested into the arts sector. It is time to up the ante on this work, and so Karen Ball, our former Director of Community Investment, is now our Director of Resource Development. Karen's key roles will be to improve the positioning of our programs to City Council, and to provide leadership to encourage more people and more corporations to invest in the arts.
Those are the things I think you’ll notice right away. Of course, we’re always aiming to refine and improve what we already do. And there’s a really exciting set of strategic goals that provoked these changes. I’ll start sharing those in future posts. Meanwhile... check out the new job postings that we're releasing today!
- Posted by Lauren Simms on January 10th, 2011
Here is a great opportunity for theatre artists and organizations to gather information on programs offered by The Canada Council for the Arts:
Information Session for Professional Artists and Arts Organizations of Alberta
The Canada Council for the Arts is pleased to invite professional Theatre artists and Theatre arts organizations to attend free information sessions and meet a Canada Council Program Officer for Theatre.
- Posted by Terry Rock on November 25th, 2010
"I’m proud of the investments our government has made in the arts and the cultural community to support those folks who are our greatest ambassadors. Bands like Great Big Sea and The Once. Shows like The Republic of Doyle. Writers like Kevin Major. These are the people who tell our stories better than any politician ever could."
I know only a few things about Newfoundland... but soon-to-be-former Premier Williams references the majority of how I've formed my impression of it. The only province in Canada I haven't visited. Yet.
- Posted by Lauren Simms on July 7th, 2010
Often individual artists contact Calgary Arts Development with questions regarding the resources and support offered to artists locally, provincially, and nationally. We are happy to get these questions, and to help point out programs that may help an artist fund his or her project.
I would like to point out this CJSW blog post. It is worth checking out. The post offers a centralized listing of resources offered specifically to musicians. However, it does have worthwhile information that crosses all disciplines.
- Posted by Karen Ball on June 22nd, 2010
I have really fond memories of my last trip to Williamsburg 10 years ago. The vibe was one that only a strong grass roots artist run culture can create. Unfortunately, New York, like many cities does not have a strong track record of preserving the artistic core of its neighbourhoods, think Soho and the Village. So I was prepared to experience a very different Williamsburg if I ever was to return.
This article in today's New York Times was heartening. It tells the story of one Williamsburg Landowner and his appreciation of the value that artists have brought to the nieghbourhood and the need to preserve artist space in order to preserve what it is that is making that small New York suburb so vibrant.
- Posted by Karen Ball on June 17th, 2010
At Calgary Arts Development we often get asked about the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a non-profit organization. We are always happy to chat about it at any time, but for those self-service oriented folks out there, here is the best resource I have ever come across for the steps and process in becoming and working as a non-profit. https://www.1stcalgary.com/Business/PlanningAndAdvice/StagesInYourBusiness/CreatingANonProfit/
Thanks to the wonderful people at First Calgary Savings for providing this invaluable resource. This site contains such information as Registering The Non-Profit Organization, Selecting the Board of Directors, Developing a Vision, Liability and Directorship and Fundraising.
- Posted by Karen Ball on May 11th, 2010
This annual survey from the CCVO is a valuable tool to guage the current state of Alberta's non-profit sector, including the arts. Please contribute your voice, it takes about 10-15 minutes.
Alberta’s Nonprofits & Charities:
The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) is once again working together with other partners across the province to take a quick “temperature check” on the state of the nonprofit and voluntary sector. Please take some time to complete Alberta's Nonprofits & Charities and the Economic Climate - Spring 2010 Survey.
Your responses to this survey are critical to obtain the broad picture of the sector in Alberta. The results of the 2009 surveys were widely used by media, government and the sector. As we continue with ongoing monitoring of the sector, this survey helps to build understanding and awareness of Alberta’s nonprofit and voluntary sector.
Results of CCVO’s latest survey will be reported back to the voluntary sector, government, media and the public. Watch for the report in June. Information and analysis contained in the report can be a useful tool for your organization’s efforts in planning, promotion and engagement with community, government and media.
The survey closes May 14.
- Posted by Terry Rock on April 10th, 2010
This article from the NY Times was passed on to me by two CADA board members this past week.
It seems Calgary isn't the only city in North America experiencing challenges related to art spaces... but we're clearly on to something with our long-term strategic approach to ensuring art spaces not only respond to need, but also stimulate redevelopment and community vitality.
- Posted by on March 18th, 2010
First of all, it's been a while since I posted a blog entry, I know - Shame on me!
But the good news is that we've been busy developing our art space program at Calgary Arts Development! We have been in the street seeking out art space opportunities and trying to match artists and arts organizations to these spaces. Identifying space opportunities involves keeping an ear to the ground, tapping into knowledge networks, and actively brokering relationships.
Anyway, enough about us; the purpose of this blog is to bring attention to the wonderful developments, stories and inspiration related to space development in Calgary, Canada and the world!
Congratulations to Comrad Sound and Local Library!
It is extremely exciting to see the development of these two new all ages spaces (or every-age space, as denoted in the attached Local Library invite). As a local musician I have been following the all-ages music scene in Calgary for some time - through peaks and troughs - and am very excited to see artists and musicians creating their own spaces. First the New Black Centre was established and then Comrad Sound and now Local Library!
The music is only one of the highlights of these two new multi-disciplinary spaces! Comrad Sound has hosted a music gear trade day, movie nights, and even a guitar set-up workshop! Local Library will have a visual art component to go along with the all ages music programming.
This is great news for a downtown Calgary that has seen the closure of spaces and the expulsion of all ages music programming from the premises. There was the Multicultural Centre (a mecca for the all ages music scene for a time) and the Carpenter’s Union Hall. One problem with sustaining space for the all ages music scene is that a few wreck it for all, which creates a stigma that is often unfairly attached to all ages shows and their patrons. Well Calgary can be proud of our new all ages space-makers who - young and not-so-young, have taken the initiative to open space where kids can partake in art, culture, community and creativity.
Visit Local Library this Saturday at 6 - 11 pm for their grand opening celebration!! (Local Library is housed at Central United Church at 131 7th Ave SW and is accessible by the alley entrance between 7th and 8th Ave.)
In case you missed it, here’s an article with the same theme from the FFWD a few weeks ago: click
Here’s the Comrad Sound calendar: www.comrad.ca
Also check out the New Black Centre: www.thenewblackcentre.com