A New Role

A New Role

Reintroducing Melissa Tuplin as Director, Community Investment & Impact

We are pleased to announce that Melissa Tuplin has accepted the position of director, community investment and impact, as of March 1, 2022. Melissa comes to the role from her previous position of community investment and capacity manager after serving as the interim director since July 2021. 

Melissa’s deep commitment and familiarity with Calgary’s arts sector not only as a funder but also as an artist in her own right, makes her the perfect person to serve in this role as we develop our next four year strategic framework and find ways for Calgary Arts Development to contribute most meaningfully to the relief, recovery, and resilience of the sector into the future. –Patti Pon, President & CEO

I began my career with Calgary Arts Development in November 2014 a sparky, hopeful, budding arts administrator, eager to leave the corporate sector and imagine a new future for my role in the arts ecosystem beyond my emerging and cyclically latent artistic practice as a choreographer and performance creator. I could not have imagined that almost eight years later I would be accepting my fifth role within the organization, entering a third strategic framework and four year budget, and standing alongside the community asking myself, “What do we do after two years of a pandemic?”

It is an honour to accept the role of director, community investment and impact and to say hello again to those I’ve met during my time here. I will continue to work alongside, with, and for you to foster a vibrant, revitalized, and re-imagined arts sector in the coming years. To those I have not yet met, whether grantee, prospective grantee, community partner, artist, audience member or otherwiseI look forward to meeting you.

Over the past years the community investment and impact teams have undertaken efforts to shift our grant-making approach from transactional to relational. We are committed to continuing this work, and to ensure that for every administrative policy and process that facilitates getting grant funds out the door there is a connection to our why. Each member of this ecosystem exists in relation to this land we share, Mohkínsstsisi, and to each other. And while our relationships as a grantmaker can be plotted along a spectrum depending on need, purpose, desire, time and what the public is asking of usthat spectrum is not linear, but a galaxy. 


I have shared with my team and the staff here at Calgary Arts Development that my vision for the community investment programs is one of transformation. With each cycle of our grant programs, we iterate, evaluate, experiment, and ideate on our successes and failures. How can we make our language better? How do we make this more clear? How can we be more efficient without sacrificing nuance? How do we use our data and our research to inform not only our programs but our communities? How can we create multiple entry points for the vast and vital diversity of expression that exists in this city? How do we do this while prioritizing the relationships that our small but mighty team of deeply empathetic, compassionate, and hardworking specialists and administrators want to build with applicants and grantees? And at the centre of this workrooting our programs, funding, relationships, and impact on the public in reconciliation, racial equity, disability justice, and gender and sexual diversity. 

In Emergent Strategy, adrienne maree brown writes about fractals, “What we practice at the small scale sets the patterns for the whole system.” We practice. We try things. We adapt. We learn. And we invite our community to come alongside us in this work, to transform and re-imagine, and wonder at what might be possible if we set new patterns for the system. I hold immense gratitude for the people who came before me in my roles, Jordan Baylon, Emiko Muraki, and Sara Bateman, whose practices have set the patterns for this work. And I am humbled by my team in the community investment and impact departments, and the entire Calgary Arts Development staff, whose contributions and care for the weight of what we do is apparent in how we do it. 

Transformation takes time and practice, so I want to share some of the things that we are trying, experimenting with, and practicing in order to interrogate, understand, and seed change within our granting systems.

We acknowledge and thank the leaders in the funding and arts sectors whom we have learned and borrowed from, and who have informed and laid the groundwork for these efforts:

  • Introducing equity priority groups to the assessment process for grant programs.
  • The development of an Application Assistance Policy to support applicants who experience barriers to access.
  • The pilot and evaluation of the Organization Structural Change Grant as we look for better ways to support capacity during life cycle changes.
  • Experimenting with verbal presentations in place of written applications in the Operating Grant Program and Organization Recovery Fund.
  • Collaborations with other funders in programs such as the Rozsa Online Programming Grant.
  • Moving to the Smart Simple grant platform will allow us to move towards sharing key performance indicators broadly and in ways that are dynamic and can be accessed in real-time rather than static annual numbers.
  • Exploring national partnerships to better equip ourselves and the local arts community with the tools necessary to access and utilize relevant and meaningful data, including participation in a national research partnership with the other largest Canadian cities to understand the net migration loss of arts professionals as reported by Statistics Canada.

Learn more about Calgary Arts Development’s community investment programs on our website.

A photo of Melissa Tuplin

Melissa Tuplin (she/her/hers) has been a member of the community investment team at Calgary Arts Development since 2014, most recently as community investment and capacity manager, before becoming director, community investment and impact in 2022.

She is interested in adaptive and emergent practices in program design that are informed by sector-centred research and impact measurement. Her focus is on the development of grant investment programs that are relational, relevant, and rooted in reconciliation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.

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