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CPAMO Toolkit: Evidence-based Strategies to Promote Pluralism in the Arts



Brief description

Arts organizations, in fact arts communities locally, provincially, nationally and world-wide, seem to have turned their attention to what is popularly called ‘diversity’ and, in particular, how to connect to people who are no longer ‘strangers in our midst’ but engaging leaders of artistic expression in contemporary culture.

Initial situation and projected outcomes


There are several ‘needs’ this project addresses. They are related to:

a. the rapidly changing demographics across Ontario;

b. the growth of Aboriginal and ethno-racial artists and the economic challenges they face;

c. the challenges in developing audiences from Aboriginal and ethno-racial communities; and

d. the interests of presenters to engage with Aboriginal and ethno-racial artists and communities.

Detailed description

Given the issues discussed above, it seems clear that the development and implementation of a pluralism initiative requires both an organizational commitment and a realistically planned out approach to set and achieve objectives aimed at transforming the organization. Usually such an approach requires each organization to assess its current situation, identifying its strengths and needs, and then charting a course of action that builds on strengths and addresses needs in a clear and programmatic fashion, i.e., with goals and time frames for accomplishment and opportunities for assessment and evaluation.

The strategies discussed in the tool-kit address such an approach by looking at the key functions of an arts organization and posing several suggested strategies that can be used. These strategies are highlighted by a summary of some ‘evidence-based practices’ and reference to others from the attached bibliography.

In particular, these strategies address the following areas:

I) Organizational Commitment

II) Community Engagement

III) Programming and Curatorial Development

IV) Audience Development

V) Employment and Professional Development

Each of these is discussed below. As noted in the section on how to use this tool-kit, some of these suggested activities are linked with other areas. For example, success in community engagement may lead to successes in employment and audience development as individuals from Aboriginal and ethno-racial communities become more aware of the arts’ organization and are able to become actively engaged in developing the organization’s relationship with diverse communities through involvement in programming, arts education and other organizational activities.

Lessons learned

Once the arts organization makes a commitment to implementing an equity and diversity initiative, it is important that its leaders are accountable to ensuring the initiative runs well and achieves its intended results. In implementing an equity and diversity strategy, it is important to use the principles and approaches that support a learning organizational approach. This requires setting clear indicators, timelines, transparency and mechanisms of accountability.


CPAMO Toolkit: Evidence-based Strategies to Promote Pluralism in the Arts, by charles c. smith

Resource published by

Charles Smith / CPPAMO
32 Costain Avenue
Toronto (Ontario) M4E 2G6 / Canada

416 686-3039

Ce projet est rendu possible grâce à Patrimoine canadien et au Secrétaire aux affaires intergouvernementales canadiennes du Québec

Design by Classe Affaires