Watch the 2022 Report to Community

Watch the 2022 Report to Community

If you missed our in-person Report to Community event on June 13, 2023 at cSpace Marda Loop, you can now view the presentation online. Watch the video to hear our President & CEO Patti Pon talk about our arts activities in 2022 and what’s needed next. You can also read the full report at

You can also find other research and reports referred to in the presentation here.

Read the transcript of this year’s Report to Community below:

Patti Pon: Welcome, everybody. For those of you who may not know, I’m Patti Pon, I’m the president and CEO for Calgary Arts Development, and this is our report to community for the year that was 2022. Many thanks for all of you joining us. As is our way here at Calgary Arts Development, whenever we have an opportunity to speak in community, with community, we acknowledge who we are and where we come from.

So today, this proceeding takes place on the ancestral lands of the people of Treaty 7. The signatories comprised of the Nitsitapi, the Blackfoot people comprised of the Kainai, Siksika and Piikani First Nations. We also it is the home to the Tsuut’ina Nation, the Îyârhe, Nakoda Nations comprised of the Chiniki, Bearspaw and Goodstoney First Nations.

And this place is also home to the Métis people of Region 3, Alberta Region 3. And all of us who call this place home, and in particular, for those of us who are creatives, who are the artists and the storytellers and the people who help connect us to this place, it is especially significant and especially important. And some of you who I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with or meeting with in the past know that I really invite artists and creatives to think about this place, not as a place that has 160 some odd years of a history known as Canada, but is a place that is thousands of years old that is Mohkinsstsis. And I think that when you look at it in that way and know that as someone who calls this place home, as someone who is building a connection to this place, you are part of a history that is thousands of years old in terms of who’s been on this land, who’s been tasked with the stewardship and the care of this land. And that is an extraordinary gift. You know, I know we’re facing tremendous challenges in terms of fires and floods and like super hot weather early, much, much earlier than we’ve had in the past. And even so, we are very, very lucky to get to call this place home.

And so in acknowledging who we are and where we come from I also invite you to just consider that in terms of not only that you are a steward of this place, but also think about how lucky you are to be a steward of this place versus many, many others that people are caring for and really feeling challenged for in this day.

So thank you all for being here. As I said, I’m Patti. I also have the great honour of to some people in my community being known as (Chinese name) which is Goddess on the Moon. It’s the name that my dad gave me, my Chinese name. And then in September of 2021, I also had the great honour of being gifted a Blackfoot name: Mistimamo Yaki (Blackfoot name) Two Standing Headdress Woman. And those three ways as Patti, as Flomo??? as Mostamo Yaki (Blackfoot) guide me in who I am and how I am in this world, as well as all the many ways of being and knowing that our team at Calgary Arts Development, both the board and the staff, undertake their work. So many thanks to all of you on the team for all that you do.

And in the words of our Wisdom Circle member JD Derbyshire, thank you for all the things you do, both seen and unseen. It’s a, it’s a wonderful gift that you bring. So we did our annual shareholders meeting today at City Council, and the slideshow that you’re going to see is the slideshow that members of council saw today. I wanted to share with you the information that we shared with City Council that made our case and we were talking about it afterwards and just saying, Oh wow, we really did a lot. We at CADA did a lot. We were able to do as much as we did because of what you do, because of all the things you create. You exhibit. You undertake and craft the stories to tell. So as I’ve said so many times before, we don’t get to be us if you aren’t you. And I really want to emphasize that in this conversation today.

So we’re going to talk a bit about 2022 and the year that was. And then looking forward, I have our our wonderful colleagues and friends here to share a bit with you about what life looks like going forward and then invite some questions and then get to the really important part, which is all going out into the foyer and having a chance to socialize and have some sistership and fellowship with each other.

So ’22 started to show signs of recovery from a small thing called the worldwide pandemic. And it was slow and it will still take time. We are still in recovery, although some wonderful things happened in ’22, our in-person activity increased by 38% and attendance was up 23% from, see it was up 23% from 2022 because that’s what my notes say, Greg. It should be up from 2021 because we’re talking about 2022. And so that was an error I made earlier this morning. And it’s up 9% from 2019. This is in part due to more opportunity for organizations who participated in large scale community events and new events like Chinook Blast, which I know many organizations were a part of, and a big thanks to those of you who were pillar partners on that.

We had almost half a million people take part in events during Chinook Blast over three weekends. So when you think about Calgary is 1.4 million, you know, just shy of half of the community took part in events over that time in the coldest part of the year. Many of you know that audiences have not been returning in the same numbers as the pre-pandemic for indoor performances in particular, and events due to concerns about COVID, costs and crowds.

You’re going to hear me say COVID, costs and crowds a lot. Those are things still top of mind for Calgarians when they think about what they’re going to attend and what they’re going to take part in. And that can be a challenge for those of us who are trying to sell tickets or admissions or increase participation and attendance.

The number of arts education activities for youth was up 10% from 2021, but still not as high as it was in 2019. It’s still 40% down from 2019. And again, we know that schools, slow to return to undertaking participation in live events and allowing outside programming from in the classroom. So while programming is up slightly since last year, youth attendance is down by 24% and we think it’s partially due to a reduction in online participation. We had less online and more in-person, but then that impacted attendance. One of the great things, and we’ll touch on this a little bit later, is the number of artists that were hired was up 32% from 2021. And that resulted, that was just over 10,400 artists in 2022. And the number of paid staff was up 9%. The number of volunteers was up 13% with volunteer hours increasing by 44%. All of this growth is a good thing, right, as we were listening to what was being shared by leaders in the community that we need to get jobs back, we need to create more opportunities, we need to connect to each other in more ways, the arts did that handily and readily so congratulations and thank you to all of you who were a part of that.

In ’22, from a granting perspective, that’s really one of Calgary Arts Development’s core businesses. We granted $13.6 million, which was 606, no, why can’t I get that number right? 676 grants to 220 arts organizations and 328 individual artists and arts collectives in 2022. So organizationally, that was $10.4 million and then $3.2 million to those individuals and other collectives. On this next slide here, you can see how that $13.6 million was divided up. So it isn’t that all the $13.6 goes in one bucket and away we go. We do try to have a number of different programs available so that it isn’t about one size fits all, that we’re able to articulate and identify opportunities for artists and organizations that make sense for who they are and who your mission is, what you’re trying to achieve through the artistic practices that you include in your mission or your mandate.

Just FYI, so all of you know, all of these numbers and datas are in our accountability report. We don’t have a lot of hard copies, but we have an awesome digital copy at so you can also find all of this information in its entirety through that website

So our largest programs, the operating grant program, right through to our individual grant and microgrant programs. So again, back to that one size fits one, we also took a particular focus on some of our programs emphasizing and encouraging equity-deserving communities and artists like the Original People’s Investment Program and Art Share, grant investment programs that promote cultural activation and tourism like the Cultural Activation Fund and grants supporting arts for social change like the Changemaker Grants, which include our partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts.

We are the second jurisdiction in Canada to launch the new creative Green Tools Program as a way for participating arts organizations to measure and improve their carbon footprint. Some of you here today might even be a part of the cohort that is piloting this program in Calgary. So we are the second in Canada. Canada is an early adopter, this is a program that originally started in the U.K., some of you may be heard of Julie’s Bicycle, so it’s — I think it’s going to be really interesting. And again, it’s a different way for the arts community to be ahead and an exemplar as we live in a city where a climate emergency was one of the first things that this elected council in October of 2020 undertook as a policy and an initiative.

So, again, really trying to position the arts as leaders, not only within the arts community, but as cities nationally. We sit as an exemplar on a variety of fronts in that way. And how do we know this? And also asking Calgarians, right? So when I talk about CADA, that’s a public agency stewarding public dollars for public benefit and public good, which includes artists, by the way.

And every two years we engage a firm called Stone Olafson to conduct a Calgarian engagement survey to measure Calgarians’ engagement and perceptions of the arts. And while the original versions of the survey were fielded biannually in 2016 and 2018, pandemic resulted in a little bit of a delay for us and the next version of the survey was fielded in April and May of 2022.

Notwithstanding the disruption that was caused by COVID, this most recent survey confirmed that Calgarians’ engagement with the arts is still high, but it’s changed. And this change is something that I think from a community perspective we should be mindful of. The ways that Calgarians are engaging with the arts is by observing, listening, by attending or by creating art. Those who engage in two or more ways has declined since 2018. So there’s something in that, on that engagement/participation, and the observing listening, which is media based, is now the most common form of arts participation in Calgary. So for us, one of the things we looked at and right away that we thought about is, okay, so media based, what does that mean? What does that look like? How does that impact those of you who are in artistic practice in a time when in 2022, you’ll remember I just said our online participation went down and the live experience went up, but that the number one thing that art, that Calgarians described is the way they engage with the arts is through observing, listening and media-based formats.

So there’s something in that that we have to pay attention to and think about. And then, as you’ve heard me say earlier, the primary concerns for not attending live events are COVID, cost and crowds, and that includes economic hardship that Calgarians are facing that is affecting their ability to purchase tickets. And so that accessibility piece is now very front of mind for many Calgarians.

Reduced income and the rising cost of living have resulted in lower disposable income, that’s what Calgarians told us, to spend on live experiences, 26%. That’s one in four. Calgarians indicated that their income resulted in them not being able to afford the same events as before. And 34% of Calgarians indicated that they didn’t go to events because they were too expensive.

Now, I know many of you, and I’ve had this conversation and our team has had this conversation with you, you either froze your prices or you reduce them coming out of COVID because we knew we were trying to get audiences back. So there’s something in that. There’s something there that is, you know, and I was remarking to somebody who came out of COVID and six-figure salary, and they figure their salary went down by $50,000, but they were still in the six-figure salary, and because of that, they had to start shopping at Walmart. So there is something there about loss, about less, even if the less still keeps you in six figures. And so, again, that’s a wave that we have to ride as a community who relies on disposable income. And so what does that look like? What does that mean? How do we group experiences together, maybe, that offer opportunities that people might see as value as we go forward and think about offering these opportunities going forward?

We also know subscriptions are off 30% and that includes like the major sports teams, Calgary Flames, Calgary Stampeders, they’re all experiencing it, the Calgary Surge is the only one that isn’t because they’re a brand new team, it’s a brand new sport coming into the community, so so there’s something in this that we’re contemplating and I raised with you in particular as as we go forward. In spite of all of that, all of those challenges, back to the engagement survey, Calgarians said that even if they’re not highly engaged with the arts, they value the role of the arts in creating a vibrant city. And the quote is “Making the city a better and more beautiful place to live” is one of the top arts benefits to Calgarians. I’m not so sure that would have been the sentiment 10 years ago.

So again, we’re seeing a perception of Calgary as an arts city and it’s a value, it’s positive contribution coming into the minds of Calgarians, which is not an easy thing to do. So that’s important. 92% of Calgarians feel that developing local artists is a good thing for Calgary. Now this is, again, in spite of one in three Calgarians reporting a weaker connection to the arts in the last 12 months, yet 88% believe that it’s important that there are organizations dedicated to the development of the arts in Calgary. There were only 6% of Calgarians who do not believe the arts offer real benefit to the city as a whole. And that’s my job. My job is to turn those 6%. In the meantime, you worry about the 94% and getting them to the events and the experiences that you produce, present, curate, exhibit. That’s a huge opportunity for us. And it’s again, these are things that I think sit as possibilities and we need to figure out the ways that maybe we have to enter into a different way of talking about these or grouping these together. Now, when it comes to public art and some of you may be aware, we took on the City of Calgary’s public art program in March of 2021, and we surveyed Calgarians views on that. And despite the negative media stories in the past, over two thirds, 67% report that they enjoy the public art available in our city.

Now Stone Olafson’s also been running the research on the live experience economy and how ready Calgarians are to return to live in-person events. That’s different research than what I just presented, but you can find it on our website. I know that many of you have been following that research. I think we are seven iterations or more than that, we’re more than seven. So we’re constantly going out into market and testing that audience perception. But COVID, cost, crowds continue to be the challenge that people, that are preventing people from indoor experience. This summer, for those of you who do summer programming outside, market the crap out of it. They want to, Calgarians want to take part — if you were at Lilac Fest, like it’s always crowded, it was like uber crowded. This year there is an eagerness to socialize and be together in space.

So out of it, the conclusions that you can see here are even with the reduced participation rates, Calgarians continue to have a positive attitude about the role of arts and culture in our community and the importance of youth having access. And then that fewer people reported the feeling that arts and culture weren’t for them. So those are really good possibilities and good things for us to think about. And you know, as you’ve heard me say over and over, if ever there were a group of people who could solve a problem — artists. Artists are problem solvers, they are not problem makers. That is really important. And because we need a lot of problem solvers in our world these days.

So you all know about vibrancy. You all know how the arts contribute. I’m talking to a group of the converted, but when I was speaking with members of council today, I really emphasized this particular slide. The total number of people who participated or attended, 4.461 million. We are a city of 1.4 million. And I just wanted to take a pause here for a moment, because this is a number that our team collects from the 169 organizations that received an Operating Grant. So remember when I said we gave out 676 grants, a total $13.6 million of those 676, $4.4 million comes from 169 organizations that get an operating grant from us where we ask for this kind of reporting back. There’s still 300 and some odd other organizations out there who also provided experiences. This is a huge number. It competes with Toronto and Vancouver and Montreal for arts experiences. And this is not the marching band reporting that 1.5 million people saw them in the Stampede parade. These are like legit, for real numbers. So those small pieces like for those of you who may come with smaller companies who perform in this space, for example, you are a part of that number. And so you cannot ignore this when an economic development tour goes out or a tourism authority is going to Destination Canada, which is a giant marketing trade show, and we see that, that number is based on 26,000 performances, exhibitions, experiences that all of you present, produced or curated in some way in a year. This is huge. And, you know, and as I said, like back to the $13.6 million, it’s not even $13.6 million that supported that 4.4 million. And 3.8 is actual attendance. And then the balance of that is based on people doing conference attendance at youth and arts education activities.

So it’s like, I just really want to stop for a moment and just, you know, pat yourself on the back because this is also 2022 where we came out of a three year pandemic. So that’s substantive. And if you receive an operating grant investment from CADA, you are a part of that. That is your success that’s coming through. So good on you for that. In spite of it all, in spite of a worldwide pandemic, in spite of an economic downturn worse than the Great Depression, in spite of a 100 year flood, all of which has happened in the last 10 years — which for me 10 years is the blink of an eye — and then the in the history of a place that goes back thousands of years, it’s this much of a history and you have weathered it to make that happen. So good for you. Good for us, Calgary.

So I’ll go to the part that really piqued city Council’s interest and that was the economic impact and economic diversity. And then, eyeroll please Helen, she’ll do the eyeroll because it’s like, why do we have to talk about the economic diversity when everything I just told you, 92% of Calgarians believe that the arts matter, 4.4 million attendees, people are engaged, arts for youth, arts for social change, equity-deserving communities were representing. Our funds are being invested in communities that look like Calgary in a representational way. We’re getting closer. We’re not exactly there yet. But this part matters too for a lot of people. And so we count and we look at that and you can see the job growth again, as I said already, that we contributed to jobs, we contributed to put more people at work, albeit sometimes in gigs, the revenue of the organizations, $130 million, $136 million, and the output, the direct benefit was $137 million. So again, in the not-for-profit community, I would say because you’re not for profit doesn’t mean you’re for loss, thank you Mark Phipps for that, it’s that the money is going back into the community. It’s not like you’re hoarding it, that you’re keeping it inside, it goes back into the community to the benefit of, of back to public benefit. Right. Public agency, public dollars, public good.

We’ll, go to the next slide, which is access to arts experiences. Again, another super important number, 26,000 events activity. I told you about that. Number of arts activities for youth, it’s going up, better than ’21, not better than ’19. We still have a long way to go there and then attendance at education, activities of children and youth, 147,000. So we still have have a consideration to make there. I don’t know about the work, it’s about creating that possibility and that opportunity. And, you know, we have to address the concerns that that many schools have right now about having those outside activities take place, so we work on that.

Another way that we look at the work of all of you is reflecting Calgary’s diversity through the arts. These are the number of activities sort of looking at a number of different ways and equity-deserving communities. And the important thing here is, like, it isn’t just about we have to meet the representation, we have to be 38% visible minority because that’s what the census says. We have to be that because whoever we are in a world — well in Calgary, where we are, and you again heard me say this many times, Canada’s third most diverse city, when all of those voices feel like they’re being heard, feel like their stories are being told, or they hear stories and go, That’s me in that I see me in that — that’s when we start to really share our values. That’s when we start to show to the world that we’re more, and I qualify this by saying, I sit on the Calgary Stampede Board, I love the Calgary Stampede, but we are more than horses and white hats and yahoo not yeehaw. We’re more than that. That’s what this does. And our ability to increase our investment and look to the partnerships that are happening in the arts community makes all the difference.

That’s why it matters. It’s not about checking a box and saying, Oh, did we hit 38% or not 38%? And so, and also, as I said, that within those communities, they see themselves in that. It’s being created from within those communities and then shared broadly to the world. That’s an incredible thing. And we’re we’re really proud to get to be a part of that.

As I mentioned earlier, from a wee small thing called public art. And there were many when I said, Oh, yeah, CADA got the public art program actually, when they weren’t really like, were you not thinking that day? Like how does that all work? And I have to say, not been easy by any stretch of the imagination. So much opportunity for the public art program.

We’ve now just completed year two of what was a, what is a three-year transition of the program from the City of Calgary to Calgary Arts Development. And we will deliver a program, have delivered a program that’s relevant, transparent, engaging, guided by our commitment to EDIA: equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility and reconciliation, and our breadth of knowledge and deep relationship with Calgary’s arts communities.

The public art program for us is one tool for community development and belonging, and a driver for more livable, safer and inspiring neighbourhoods. That’s the wonderful, eloquent way that Helen helps me describe that that whole piece of belonging, that you can walk into your neighbourhood, experience a piece of art created by an artist, local, sometimes not local, but always relevant and resonant to that community is a wonderful way to engage in a relationship with the arts. It’s a wonderful way. And artists start that engagement, artists start that conversation. It’s a wonderful thing for us to position. And more and more now in our teams, we’re hearing that. And, and that’s the reason why we took on the program, notwithstanding the crabby pants that we get and the, and the, and the complaints. But it’s a wonderful history that we lean on, and again, one that goes back thousands of years to the first peoples and the original peoples of this place.

In ’22, we ran a number of public art programs. We have them up here that you can see there so I won’t go into it. We’re very excited. Jarett Sitter is undertaking the Chinatown Mural Project. We’ve got the Centre City Banners now, so you’ll see more pageantry by local artists in the city. Open spaces, that’s the window galleries on the Centre Street platform. So again, a way for Calgarians to connect and engage with art. So a number of projects, and stay tuned for the year ahead. I look at my public art team, it’s like, hold onto your hats, kids, because there’s going to be a lot of activity coming forward. We also launched our new annual arts magazine called Create Calgary. Many of you may have seen it. It has Faye Heavyshield on the front cover. It’s extraordinary. It includes many stories about the arts and artists in our city, including a historical review of the public art program that does include the installations that were installed by Indigenous communities thousands of years ago.

You’ve heard me talk about EDIA, it is equity diversity, inclusion, accessibility, are the values that guide our work. For us, EDIA is separate from our reconciliation journey and we do that because, as you heard me at the beginning with our land acknowledgment, we want to recognize and enlarge that we’re on this land, we are here in this place stewarding funds. And in 2022 Sable Sweetgrass joined our senior leadership team as the Director of Engagement and Reconciliation, filmmaker and community leader Kevin Littlelight from the Tsut’inna Nation was appointed to our board, and these two positions, along with Morgan, who you’ve heard me talk a bit about, an Indigenous advisory, and work we do with folks like Saa’kokoto and others from Treaty 7 Territory represent leadership and voices in all levels of our organization. The biggest EDIA undertaking, and you’ll hear more about it later on in ’22, was completing a third party equity audit to assess our current practices and offer recommendations for improvement.

The report is called Imagine This, and it was co-written and co-researched by People of Design and Constructive Public Engagement ,and ideas from those with lived and learned experiences of citizen artists of Calgary, staff and EDIA consultants from across Canada participated in that process. We received the the report in late 2022. It’s quite comprehensive, and each of our teams inside the organization are using it as a reference point.

It’s it’s on our website, so you’re welcome to go have a look at it. The thing that I find, it’s very insightful and super informative and in some ways really humbling for us at CADA to look at, the thing I appreciate about it most is it is entirely open source under a Creative Commons license. If you are in an organization where you might be exploring your own equity audit process or you’re maybe on a board yourself or volunteer of an organization contemplating this, you can go have a look at our report and take what you want from it.

I always say that for me, R&D stands for repeat and duplicate. If it works and it makes sense for you, use it, and I am very happy to say I am not too proud to take other people’s stuff by people who are smarter than me. I ask their permission first always, but using the benefit of the all the voices that we had in this process, I think is one that we just don’t want to keep for us. We want to make sure that it’s available more widely and by more widely I mean across the country and beyond. And we’ve already had, and JD will tell you that later about what we’ve heard so far.

This year, we are hosting six equity virtual town halls. I suspect that many of you have already signed up for our first one, which is on Monday from noon to 2pm, it’s called Understanding Land Acknowledgments with Michelle Robinson. Be sure to sign up. Michelle has a lot of amazing information to share and it will not be recorded. So you do need to attend the session on Monday afternoon in order to experience her wisdom and her good words. There’ll then be three sessions hosted by Toyin Oladele on racial equity in the workplace, and two in the fall, a session on gender equity and one on disability justice hosted by JD Derbyshire. More information on our website on those and all of those are online and they’re all free to join. We have both an internal EDIA staff working group and external EDIA Community Working Group and that these groups meet monthly to ensure that we are living our values in good ways.

We created a new position of community liaison. Sayonara Cunha, who participates in many groups and discussions centred around anti-racism, equity, decolonization and conflict resolution to ensure that we’re continuously learning and improving our practices. Melissa, who you’ll hear from, our director of community investment and impact, sat on the anti-racism funders table, as well as being on the click council both to share our practices and to learn what is needed in the community and what others are doing.

And I say that again because as artists, as arts organizations, and creative organizations entering into these kinds of community based discussions with curiosity, with openness, with open hearts, and bringing that artist lens to the table is extraordinary. And every time a Melissa or a Sayo or a Sable or anyone from the CADA team ends up at one of these tables that they haven’t been at before, and they say, Well, from an artist’s perspective, you might want to look at it like this, always there’s an aha moment at those table. And more and more our team has been invited and we’ve looked to other artists in the community to speak at a variety of activities and conferences and gatherings where people are curious about how creative minds, creative spirits can contribute to building better worlds for all of us.

I want to get on and have you hear from our guests. So I’m jumping ahead to the next slide, Helen.

Sharing Calgary’s message here and beyond. Again, this is all of you. When you take our stories and you put them on the stages not only here but all over the world, you show what great stories we have, how we connect to each other. And then CADA has the ability to amplify and elevate and use our good collaborations and our belief in the power of partnerships to lift that and elevate that.

As I mentioned, a number of us have been invited all over the country as well as in the U.S. to deliver panel conversations, lead conversations. We’ve submitted written pieces for national publications online and in print. People are noticing Calgary, and I say Calgary not CADA. We may be the voice, we may be the platform. We only have something to say because you do something, you are creating things. So what we tell is the stories that you are creating, that you share. And more and more people are intrigued and interested in what we have to say, especially in this time. Now, looking ahead, we also want to ensure that those large groups of people visiting our city, like the World Petroleum Congress coming up in September, 25,000 people from all over the world will descend in Calgary over a five-day period. The Rotary International Convention in 2025, that’s 30,000 people who will be here from all the world in June, just before Stampede. The Special Olympics will be here end of February, early March of 2024. It’s Canada-wide, so we’ll have several thousand people here, a few thousand, three to 5,000. And we want to make sure that those visitors have authentic arts experiences and artworks available to them to make their visit here that much more special, that much more Calgary, and be able to take that home with them. So be sure to keep an eye out for any opportunities that that come along.

This is our strategic framework. We’re halfway through the first year of our ’23 – ’26 strategic framework. It’s titled Akaakomatapoap, meaning we are now going to begin, which recognizes the transformational times the arts face and is guided by a Treaty 7 Indigenous worldview.

Saa’kokoto was a part of that strategic working group that we held over almost 18 months, and he gifted us this name for the strategy. And in the process of developing this framework, we use the natural system as a some system to compare to, as something to align to and within the natural system. We know that the buffalo is a keystone species, and what happened with the decimation of the buffalo is community suffered people literally died. And in the arts ecosystem, we identified artists as the keystone species. If the keystone species of artists in an arts ecosystem are not healthy, are not being encouraged and supported, there is no arts ecosystem. There’s no reason for me. And we know in our research that artists are through those three things I talked about having lost 10 years, right? The catastrophic, the flood, the downturn, pandemic. Within the arts ecosystem, artists suffered the worse by far, lost their jobs first, last to come back and get hired back, least able to access other means of funding or support through the pandemic. And in that case, so the pandemic suffered the worst. That isn’t to say that everybody didn’t have a hard time, didn’t suffer because the system did in a big way.

But artists, if they’re the keystone species and they suffered the most, how do we reintroduce that species back in a way that is different? That is more than saying we appreciate the value of artists. That is more than, oh, well, I’m an organization, I’m having a really hard time. So instead of doing that event with six artists, I’m only going to do four.

Why is it always the artist who suffers first? That’s a question I’d invite you to think about as you make those decisions, because it is still going to be a hard time. We’re still living in recovery as we go forward. And yes, we absolutely are going to continue to look for ways to ensure the health and resilience of arts organizations and artists as we go forward.

These are the four directions of the strategy: purpose, people, community and resources. So starts over here. There is a priority sequence that goes clockwise starting at purpose. Purpose centres equity, people is about nurturing the capacity of artists and arts organizations to flourish in our community, in our city. Community is that the nourish and nourishing and vibrancy of the arts ecosystem in Calgary benefits all Calgarians back to the public benefit, and then resources is how might we leverage and stabilize resources to benefit the arts ecosystem.

So those are the four directions that appear inside the report. Again, all of this is on our website. This is a more conventional and traditional, on 160 years history, traditional perspective. So The Matrix, and how we will report on that. So in future reports to community, you’ll hear us talk about reporting on the structure in this way. In all of this, we started in the process by asking the question of, What is this moment asking of us?

And that guided us to Akaakomatapoap, and the final piece there. We believe that artists and the arts can lead the way to a better future for all of us. Not some of us. And we believe that the arts have a role to play in imagining the kind of city that we want Calgary to be, one that is a truly equitable, inclusive and accessible city where everyone belongs.

We believe, I believe, you are going to lead the way — you already do, sometimes without even knowing it I bet. And I invite you as you undertake your work, think about how you encourage Calgarians from all walks of life, all kinds of backgrounds, to engage with you in your work, right back to art equals belonging. You are the ones who help us create and craft those shared stories that someone can go, Ah, I see myself in that.

You know, during COVID, all of us experienced isolation, all of us experienced loneliness, all of us experienced loss in many different ways. But you are the holders. You are the creators who practice creativity any day. You’re the elite athletes of creativity. So you show us, you connect us in ways that that sometimes I bet you don’t even imagine. Or maybe you do, actually. And that’s why you do what you do. I’ll have to think about that. So we we look forward to ways, more ways in which we can work with you to ignite and engage your imagination and bring your whole selves and the many ways you walk in this world to the work that you do.

So, holy crap, I really talk a lot. So that’s me I’m going to stop and I’m going to invite my colleagues Melissa Tuplin, Sable Sweetgrass and JD Derbyshire to share some thoughts and comments with you. So thanks so much.

Melissa Tuplin: Thanks, Patti. Hi, everyone. I’m Melissa Tuplin, the Director of Community Investment and Impact here at Calgary Arts Development. And I’d like to start by sharing my gratitude to the Calgary Arts Development staff for your work in 2022. It is an honour to work alongside all of you in operations, communications, engagement and the public art departments. But because I have the microphone, I would like to thank my team.

The statistics and data we have shared with you today would not be possible without the Research and Impact Team. So thank you very much to Greg, Stephanie and Fatema. In 2022, we had an unprecedented year for the community investment team. We experienced significant growth to the volume of applications to our grant investment programs, and the team responded with grace, humility and a willingness to adapt processes while working hard to honour the program, timelines that we committed to, and keeping you, our applicants and grantees, at the centre of all that they do. So Allan, Van, Taylor, Perpetual, Morgan and Marta, thank you for your care and passion and support for the community and for your incredibly hard work.

In 2022, the community investment team processed 1,200 grant applications, made 676 grants, and issued over 750 individual grant payments in instalments. This is a 29% increase in applications and a 24% increase in the number of grants from 2021. The increase in applications to our programs continues. To give an example, the recently closed Project Grant for Individuals and Collectives Program for 2023 received 520 applications. This is a 67% increase compared to 2021 and 2022 numbers and a 201% increase from 2019.

We believe that this increased applications not only speaks to the breadth of the art sector in Calgary, but the ways in which our staff are working to address systemic barriers to access our programs and increasing outreach and engagement to first-time applicants and equity-deserving communities. We also believe that we are seeing the sector return from pandemic closures to begin projects that they were unable to begin in the last three years.

However, this does mean that we will see success rates in our programs drop again. With budget increases over the past years, we have been able to increase the average success rates of our one-time funding programs to between 30 to 60%. In 2023, despite further increasing funding pools for our most competitive programs, particularly for individual artists. As you heard Patti speak about program competitiveness, competitiveness is a core challenge. Central to our program evaluation in upcoming years, we have begun undertaking full reviews of our grant investment programs and with the lens of our strategic framework, are looking ahead to 2027. This year and the next year will be focused on evaluating the Operating Grant Program. During our Creative Congress in November 2022, we held a session on what is needed for funding programs and heard overwhelmingly that the need for unrestricted operational funding that is committed on multi-year agreements and keeps pace with stagnant funding environments is critical to arts organizations and the artists and staff that they program and hire.

We also heard that operating grant programs are difficult to access and couched in outdated assumptions about risk, perpetuity and the criteria for artistic and community impact that are monolithic and at times actively gatekeeping inequitable systems. In 2022, we commissioned a natural language study on the applications, assessment notes and reports for the operating grant process, resulting in a report that identified major sectoral themes.

We have just completed the assessment process for the 2023 to 2024 cycle and will be validating those themes against what the organizations and assessors surface this year. That study, alongside the data that we have been collecting and analyzing for the past three years, will be shared to the community in a data walk this fall. A data walk is a community event for sharing substantial amounts of information exhibition style, invites dialogue and conversation and gathered the sector to validate information and identify gaps.

This event will be our opportunity to share with you what we see in the ecosystem and begin the process of talking more deeply about possible futures for a newly designed operating program in 2025. As our largest program that touches a significant part of the arts ecosystem as you’ve seen, all of that data is just from the 160 organizations that we fund through the operating program. We know that evaluating that operating program necessitates conversations about support for individual artists and other areas of the sector. We know that artists desire access to multiyear, unrestricted funding in the same way that organizations do, and as we continue to identify the new business models and modes of working within creative economies, we are committed to exploring.

Our funding models must also shift to keep up with those. Data collection is an invaluable tool for our work and in the next two years we will once again field arts professionals surveying. In the last Arts Professional Survey we heard that as many as 25% of respondents were considering leaving Calgary. We plan to launch a large scale longitudinal study of artists that will allow us to collect information from artists even as they leave our city, learn why they are leaving, and identify ways to make Calgary a more hopeful, profitable and equitable place to seek a career as an artist.

We’ve also recently published the 2022 Demographic Census Report, which is now available on our website. While that data was collected in 2021, it’s beneficial to interpret it alongside federal census data, which was not available until late last year. The demographic census will be fielded to our operating grant clients again next year and is our opportunity to continue understanding how the work of the organizations that we fund represents the population of the city that we live in.

Finally, I’d like to plug our upcoming grant deadlines. The Operating Grant New Client Intake Program will onboard new grantees to the Operating Grant Program for 2023 and 2024, and this program closes on July 5. [Update: the deadline for applications is now July 19.] If you’re interested in entering the Operating Program, I highly encourage you to seek out your pal Marta Ligocki or anyone from the community investment team. The applications to the Project Grant for Organizations open on July 4. The deadline is August 30 and please reach out to Perpetual Attire to talk about that program. The next intake for the Artist Development Program opens in late July and closes on September 27, and you can speak to Perpetual or Taylor Poitras about that program. The Original People’s Investment Program will run through the summer and closes in October. You can speak to Morgan Possberg about that program, and we’ll be announcing — actually, we did announce today in our newsletter — along with the Rozsa Foundation and the Calgary Foundation, we are hosting an information session on Tuesday, June 27, about the 2023 edition of the Future Focus Program. Updated guidelines for that program will be available at the end of June. And for those of you who are awaiting your results for the operating grant, those will go out in a couple of weeks. Thank you very much. And I’m going to throw this over to Sable Sweetgrass the Director of Engagement and Reconciliation.

Sable Sweetgrass: Oki, everyone, (Blackfoot) Sable Sweetgrass and I am the Director of Indigenous Engagement and Reconciliation with Calgary Arts Development. I would like to thank my little team. That’s just me and two others. Well, one other, Sayo Cunha, and Morgan Possberg, I count her as part of my team, even though she’s with CI, but I get to borrow her. And so that’s that’s engagement and reconciliation. But we work with all the departments of Calgary Arts Development, but we also have our Indigenous advisory, so I want to thank them as well. The group of people that we have with the advisory who have been with us through the pandemic and have helped us to keep that program going, which has just grown with every every year, the number of applications that that come into that program. I’d also love to put a thank you to our community working group, CWG. The CWG formed over the the pandemic virtually, and the conversation that we’ve had with the CWG have really helped us in our work towards equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility and, and I feel has, you know, helped me get my job.

Let’s see what else do I have here. And just later this year and into next year, we will be looking for new members to join the Indigenous advisory and the CWG. So you’ll probably be seeing that coming up. Last year we sort of kicked off, the engagement and reconciliation is still somewhat, I feel, like a new department and last year we got to be a part of the planning of the Western Arts Alliance, which is, it’s based out of the United States, but it’s an international performance arts conference that happens every year, and actually, we did the opening ceremony in this space right here. We had people from Australia, Hawaii, South America, and in this space they did like a presentation of of dance and and gifts to a Blackfoot Elder and another member of the community. It was really overwhelming and beautiful. And, and I feel like that really kicked off our engagement in a really big way.

And it’s kind of, you know, thinking about that, how we look at Indigenous engagement in our communities and what we would call good relations as our Elder Saa’kokoto has has talked to us about, how we, how we start those engagement with other nations, other groups of people. And, and so what we’ve been doing since last year, is we’ve been developing our good relations framework, so we still have quite a bit of ways to go on that, but we’re looking to do outreach to the Treaty 7 First Nations community starting this July. I don’t know. Actually no, it’s not starting, it’s ongoing. But this will be the first time that we visit those communities where we go out to Stoney Nakoda, to Tsuut’ina, Siksika, Piikani and Kainai, as well as the Métis Region 3 here in the city.

Let’s see, since last year our engagement team has been looking through the Imagine This document and looking at all of the possible futures and possible actions and seeing how they how they relate to our work in engagement and and also the other departments within CADA. Sayo has been, Sayonara, Sayo has been working with the CWG and helping to put together like a structure for them and working on, each department has a pod that sort of explores different issues, and Morgan and I have been working with our Indigenous advisory on the grant programs. Let’s see, Morgan and I and our team are helping to develop Indigenous art markets here in the city, supporting them, and just we’re really looking forward to the engagements that we’ll be doing in Treaty 7 First Nations this summer.

So thank you. And if you have any questions, you can just come up and ask me or send me an email at Thanks.

JD Derbyshire: Hi, everybody. I won’t keep you long. I just want to tell you about the Imagine This report, that report and resource that you can — I don’t want to pop my Ps — that you can download. I want to tell you a little bit about how it came into being. Just to celebrate, just to celebrate something about Calgary that as a person who grew up here and had to leave because it wasn’t a city that was welcoming to someone like me then, and to be able to work in this way, it’s just sort of an unmarked progress. I’d just like to say that Calgary is one of the most welcoming and belonging places, although the national media doesn’t represent that.

So Imagine This came about because CADA put out an RFP for an internal RFB request for a funding proposal for an internal audit, and they don’t know this, but this was the 10th RFP that I applied to for an internal equity audit where I suggested that internal audits were a waste of money because they just were received, they took all the information from the community and then kept it to themselves and maybe turned around one or two things that they could spin in a really nice way and throw it back out into the community. And so this was number 10 where I tried to say, what if you did that and then made it a shareable resource? In other words, shared what you’ve done so far, but also shared what you’re going to do about the future, where the gaps are, what you’re grappling with. And to my amazement, maybe because we’ve been in relationship for six or seven years, they said yes. So Imagine This was guided by People of Design, which is a co-design company founded by queer and trans disabled people. So it’s centred around disability culture, which is all about sharing what you’ve got. And the report is basically, you can read all about EDIA, equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, what CADA has done so far. It’ll give you a nice background on that. And then what it did is we took that out to the community. So you hear a lot about supporting the arts, you know, we support the arts, we support the artists. But you don’t hear a lot is what artists support. So we went out there and basically leveraged the imaginations of artists to say, This is what we know, what do you want to see? And we used future design to say, you know, we want you to think about the ultimate utopian dream. How do we make Calgary equitable, inclusive, accessible and diverse in all our arts sectors? And so the second section in the report is Possible Futures, and you’ll get all that sort of utopian thinking, and then you’ll get a section called Plausible Actions, so these are things that can be done in the immediate future, and that’s available on the CADA website.

It is, as Patti mentioned, Creative Commons, which means you have to attribute where it came from, and you can mix it and do whatever you want with it, except for commercial purposes. Just look up the Creative Commons license. It’s really quite incredible. It’s already out there being iterated in all, not just arts sectors so well. It’s sort of focused on arts funders and the arts sector, it’s already affected a harm reduction program, a meatpacking plant and several other funders in Canada who are amazed that this came out of Calgary. I am not. So take a look at it. Thank you for being an artist. Thank you for supporting artists. Thank you, CADA. Clearly what you have here in this city is one of the most willing funders to look all the time at what they’re doing and who they’re serving and I hope that you feel really grateful about that. I know I do for the work. Take a look at the report and thanks.

Patti Pon: Thank you so much Melissa, Sable, JD. What you see here on the slide are credits. So all of those images, all of those graphics that you saw in the slide presentation, are here on those credits. And again, right, it is about acknowledgement, it is about gratitude. It is about, none of that presentation happens without all of these creatives and artists being a part of it and contributing to some way. So I hope that our presentation today gives you cause to maybe stand a little bit taller, be more forceful at looking people in the eye and saying, Yeah, I’m an artist. And yes, I call Calgary Mohkinsstsis home, and that’s what you have to show for it.

These are the kinds of things that you can thank us for as artists and creatives in the community.

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