The Canadian Public Arts Funders (CPAF) network provides a forum for members to discuss the many issues facing public arts funders, and to exchange information and knowledge among their peers. The members of the network operate by consensus to determine the focus of work for each year, and to identify themes of interest. Working groups comprised of CPAF members then collaborate to advance thinking on these themes.

The following list summarizes those themes that have been identified to date, as well as links to related resources and information. While some of these resources were commissioned specifically for the CPAF network, the majority are reports and information produced by other organizations. The CPAF network is grateful to their authors, many of whom have shared their ideas and insight with members at CPAF meetings and other gatherings.

Achieving Impact through Public Funding to the Arts: CPAF 2015 Annual General Meeting

Executive Summary - CPAF member organizations convened in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, November 11-13, 2015 on the occasion of the network's Annual General Meeting. Members discussed policy alignment, new initiatives and changes to funding models that enable their organizations to address shifting art practices, increase accessibility and respond to realities of the digital economy.

Articulating the Impact of Public Funding in the Arts: CPAF 2014 Annual General Meeting

CPAF member organizations convened in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, November 12-14, 2014 on the occasion of the network's Annual General Meeting.

Board chairs, directors and senior staff explored in-depth the economic, social, community, democratic and intrinsic/individual narratives that are used to “tell the story” of how public arts funding contributes to and benefits Canadian society. Funders have recognized that a range of arguments, from economic prosperity to intrinsic benefits, are needed to address different stakeholders, be it the arts community, board members or staff. How to measure success and balancing hard data with stories are some of the shared challenges.

The following documents were prepared to inform the deliberations of the meeting:

  1. Presentation: Articulating the Impact of Public Funding in the Arts – prepared by the CPAF Secretariat
  2. Overview of Revenues by Source and Province: Locked CADAC Data – prepared by the Research and Evaluation Section, Canada Council for the Arts

Other publications were used to inform the meeting:

  1. Research Report: Making a Holistic Case for the Arts - prepared by Hill Strategies Research, Inc.
  2. State Policy Briefs: Why Should Government Support the Arts? – prepared by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA)

Guests from Business for the Arts presented findings from their 2014 Research Initiative, to build a stronger, more research-based case for business support for the arts

Making a Holistic Case for the Arts

Research Report - This paper, commissioned from Hill Strategies Research, Inc. was prepared to inform the deliberations of a Strategic Development Meeting of the CPAF network in June 2014. The theme of the meeting was Shifting Narratives: Making a Holistic Case for the Arts. It takes stock of existing research sources and identifies gaps, and is an important step in helping CPAF members clearly articulate the unique role the arts play in the lives of citizens, and in turn, the value of public funding to the arts.

A New Value Proposition for Public Funding to the Arts

Meeting Report - CPAF member organizations convened in Banff, Alberta, in November 2013 on the occasion of the network's Annual General Meeting. Board chairs, directors and senior staff discussed the evolution of the case for public investment in the arts, and the need for a new proposition in the current context. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions that took place.

Implementing Innovation and Public Arts Funding

Meeting Report - CPAF member organizations convened in Quebec City in November 2012 on the occasion of the network's Annual General Meeting. Board chairs, directors and senior staff discussed adaptive strategies, resources and tools for effective organizational innovation and ways forward in this new era for the arts in Canada. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions that took place, including contributions by keynote speaker Richard Evans, President of EmcArts, Inc.

Frameworks for Innovation in the Arts

Meeting Report - CPAF member organizations convened in Ottawa in June 2012 for a strategic development meeting to discuss frameworks and strategies related to leadership, innovation and adaptive change for the arts sector within rapidly shifting environments. Building on the 2011 Annual General Meeting, this report summarizes the presentations and discussions that took place.

Future Directions in Public Arts Funding: What Are The Shifts Required?

Below are a set of nine documents from the 2011 Canadian Public Arts Funders (CPAF) Annual General Meeting on the theme of Future Directions in Public Arts Funding: What Are the Shifts Required?

Representatives of arts councils and equivalent public arts funders from across Canada met, for the first time in northern Canada, in Whitehorse, Yukon, November 16-18, 2011, on the occasion of the CPAF Annual General Meeting. The Executive Directors, senior staff and Chairs discussed the impact of rapidly shifting social, technological, demographic, cultural, political, and economic environments on public arts funders, artists, arts organizations, citizens and the public.

  1. The Meeting Report presents an overview of the discussions, notably contributions by keynote speaker Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, and guest speakers Stephen Huddart, President and Chief Executive Officer, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and Cynthia White-Thornley, Director General, Arts Policy Branch, Department of Canadian Heritage.
  2. Achieving Great Art For Everyone: Arts Funding In A Cold Climate is the keynote address by Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England (ACE), presented on November 16, 2011.
  3.  Achieving Great Art For Everyone: Arts Funding In A Cold Climate is a presentation by Alan Davey, presented on November 16, 2011.
  4. Shifting Environments: Internal Factors at Canadian Heritage is a presentation by Cynthia White-Thornley, presented on November 17, 2011.

CPAF also commissioned a series of five think pieces by leading experts for the 2011 AGM called Snapshots: Issues in the Current Public Arts Funding Environment with a view to provide additional information in areas where knowledge gaps were identified.  Each author was asked to write a page 2 to 3 page essay on a theme in relation to the goals and key questions of the AGM. We thank the authors for their collaboration.

  1. Democratization of Culture, Cultural Democracy and Governance by Monika Gattinger, Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa
  2. Engaging the Every-Day Artist: Non-profit Arts in the Participatory Culture by Alan Brown, Principal, WolfBrown consultants
  3. New Funding Models in the Arts: A Case Study by John Mahon, Executive Director, Edmonton Arts Council
  4. New Organizational Models: Traditional and Emerging by Marilyn Struthers, Program Manager, Ontario Trillium Foundation
  5. Succession Planning: Preparing a New Generation of Artists and Cultural Managers: A Proposal by Susan Annis, Executive Director, Cultural Human Resources Council


Equity within the Arts Ecology: Traditions and Trends - The objectives of the research report were intended to provide an overview, through a literature review and environmental scan, of current knowledge and surrounding context on the theme of “equity within the arts ecology” in order to better understand how equity is defined, understood, implemented and measured within the Canadian arts ecology, as well as within a broader international arts context; and Identify key gaps or questions for future research. Prepared by Ashok Mathur and the Centre for Innovation in Culture and the Arts in Canada (CICAC) for the CPAF Strategic Development Meeting on Equity on June 13-14, 2011.

What’s Art Good For: Critical Diversity, Social Justice and Future of Art and Culture in Canada - A speech to the Canadian Public Arts Funders (CPAF) Executive Directors, Edmonton, June 2011by Rinaldo Walcott, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology and Equity Studies, and Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto

Digital Transitions

Digital Transitions and the Impact of New Technology on the Arts - The objectives of the report were to provide an overview of current knowledge on the theme of digital transition and the impact of new technology on the arts in order to suggest how changes in the arts and society brought about by digital technologies affect Canadian public arts funders. By David Poole with assistance from Sophie Le-Phat Ho for the CPAF Strategic Development Meeting on Digital Transitions, March 10, 2011.

Multidisciplinarity in the Arts

Rewilding the arts ecosystem: A discussion paper on multidisciplinarity in the arts in Canada - This discussion paper presents some insights on multidisciplinarity in the arts through a discussion of 11 contemporary Canadian artists, collectives and organizations engaged in the field. By Helen Yung with assistance from Clea Minaker, Soraya Peerbaye and Marjan Verstappen for the CPAF Professional Development Meeting on Multidisciplinarity in the Arts, March 16-17, 2015.


The Changing Theatre Landscape: New Models is Use by Theatre Artists, Groups and Organizations - The scope of this project was to investigate emerging approaches or practices which theatre artists, groups and organizations in Canada are adapting or implementing in order to succeed and thrive artistically. By Jane Marsland with assistance from George Krump for the CPAF Professional Development Meeting on Theatre, March 20-21, 2014.


The Changing Landscape of Music in Canada: Shifting Practices, New Models and Innovations in Support is a presentation by Micheline McKay + Associates for the CPAF Professional Development Meeting on Music, March 6-7, 2013.

Aboriginal Arts

Discussion Paper on Protocols – by Dr. Jane Anderson and Dr. Gregory Younging for the CPAF Professional Development Meeting on Aboriginal Arts, March 9-10, 2010.

Public Engagement & Public Value

Engaging Audiences – Wallace Foundation, 2009

In the midst of hard economic times, it is clearly more challenging for arts organizations to take the long view and continue to devote time and effort to building new audiences.But this report on a recent gathering of representatives from more than 50 Wallace-funded arts organizations in six cities concludes that participation-building efforts and the resulting lessons are more vital than ever to the long-term health of arts organizations and the entire arts sector.Especially in hard times, the report says, it’s essential for leaders of arts organization to take careful stock of the long-term influences and challenges affecting the arts sector such as demographic shifts and new technologies that are creating entire new “spaces” for people to come together and experience the arts.The report describes how organizations are responding creatively to those challenges using such means as market research, re-branding, and drawing audience-building lessons from other sectors such as professional sports.

Research Into Action: Pathways to New Opportunities – by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, 2009

Research into Action:Pathways to New Opportunities,the Cultural Alliance's most recent research report, offers specific insights into how the Philadelphia region's diverse population engages with the arts and the report provides specific strategies for cultural organizations looking to build stronger audience connections.

Cultural Engagement in California's Inland Regions – by WolfBrown and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts for the James Irvine Foundation, 2008

The James Irvine Foundation commissioned WolfBrown and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts to investigate patterns of cultural engagement in the San Joaquin Valley and the Inland Empire. These two rapidly growing, ethnically diverse regions of California have a combined population of nearly eight million people. The study surveyed more than 6,000 people and uncovered a range of cultural activity in music, theater and drama, reading and writing, dance, and visual arts and crafts — much of which occurs off the radar of the traditional infrastructure of nonprofit arts organizations and facilities. Study results paint a detailed picture of cultural engagement and suggest new opportunities for cultural service providers and funders.

Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance – by WolfBrown for 14 Major University Presenters, 2007

This report attempts to define and measure how audiences are transformed by a live performance. The study, commissioned by the Major University Presenters consortium, develops a simple measurement tool to assess impact, provides an analytical framework for considering the results, and suggests how performing arts presenters might begin to use this information to select programs more purposefully and evaluate them on the basis of impact instead of attendance.

Cultural Value and the Crisis of Legitimacy – by John Holden for Demos, 2006

The ‘cultural system’ faces a crisis of legitimacy – a problem that has dogged culture for the last 30 years. Cultural professionals have focused on satisfying the policy demands of their funders in an attempt to gain the same unquestioning support for culture that exists for health or education. But the truth is that politicians will never be able to give that support until there exists a more broadly based democratic consensus. The question is where will this come from?

Impact of the Global Economic Downturn on the Arts

Our Fiscal Performance – by Canada’s Performing Arts Alliance, 2009 

To understand the impact of the economic downturn on performing arts companies, The Performing Arts Alliance, consisting of the Canadian Dance Assembly,, Orchestras Canada, and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, undertook a survey of member organizations across the country. This report is a summary of the findings from a survey conducted in May 2009.

Taking the Pulse II: An Economic Snapshot of the Performing Arts Sector in Canada – by Canada’s Performing Arts Alliance, 2010

In the spring of 2009, Canada’s Performing Arts Alliance (Canadian Dance Assembly,, Orchestras Canada, and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres) undertook a series of surveys of their members to assess the emerging impact of the economic downturn on professional dance, opera, theatre companies and orchestras across the country. The first survey covered the four-month period from September-December 2008; the second survey covers the period from January-April 2009. Two more surveys are planned. This is a summary of the findings from the second survey. A total of 80 dance, opera, orchestra and theatre organizations (of a potential 311 participants), from every Canadian province and representing a diversity of budget sizes, took part in the survey.


Cultural Mapping Toolkit – A partnership between 2010 Legacies Now and the Creative City Network

TheCultural Mapping Toolkithas been designed to take readers through the entire mapping process, from creating an inventory to drawing up and presenting a map. The process has been broken down into stages and steps. Each step is accompanied by examples, checklists or worksheets to help get you organized. When you have finished, the working documents will serve as a record of the suggestions and solutions you came up with as you went along.

Dance Mapping – A window on dance, 2004-2008 –by Susanne Burns and Sue Harrison for Arts Council England, 2008

A window on dance, Arts Council England’s dance mapping report is the most significant compilation of evidenced-based dance research ever undertaken in this country. The report maps the dance ecology, economy and environment in England. It looks at the various market segments and identifies trends and patterns, challenges and opportunities for dance.

First Peoples’ Art Map

An initiative of the First Peoples’ Heritage Language and Culture Council in BC.

Next Generation

Next Generation of Artistic Leaders and Audiences – by DCode for the Canada Council for the Arts and CPAF, 2007

During the first half of 2007, the Canada Council for the Arts, provincial and territorial arts funders and certain municipalities brought together close to 200 artists and arts administrators, aged 18 to 30, to engage in a conversation about their work, challenges, and vision for the future. Nine Dialogues with the next generation of artistic leaders were held in all regions of the country. Each generated substantive discussions on emerging and evolving areas of practice, training and career development needs, the impact of the arts on communities and the role of arts funding in supporting young artists and administrators.

Support to Organizations

Flexible Management Models – by Jane Marsland for the Canada Council for the Arts, 2005

In 2005, the Canada Council for the Arts commissioned this review to investigate flexible management models for artists, collectives and small arts organizations as well as evaluating existing programs at the Council to establish strengths and weaknesses of the current programs as well as gaps within and between disciplines.

Important Notices

Date Modified: 2016-06-08