1. Introduction

This is a tool-kit about change - a phenomenon as simple as the turning of leaves.  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.  Whether through what may be considered traditional, along with that which borrows from other expressions and is hybrid, representations of Canadian values and identity through the arts are increasingly diversified, suggesting a state that is never fixed but is, particularly when supported, always evolving, creating new ways of seeing and doing things, building new relationships or redefining old ones, learning from these experiences, and then moving on.

This tool-kit is about change.  It aims to address areas that arts organizations have been discussing through the CPAMO project, its Town Halls and workshops, and in other conversations, i.e., what is needed and what is being done to lead and build collaborations in bringing about different ways of seeing and understanding through the arts.  It also looks at practices by art organizations that have found ways to successfully transform their organizations so that they are deeply engaged in change activities, particularly in building and sustaining relationships between arts organizations and Aboriginal and ethno-racial communities.

This tool-kit gives concrete suggestions on how to go about implementing change work – it sets out to give information that can assist arts organizations, whether presenters and/or creators, to look at what they need to do to engage with our rapidly changing communities – and what they both need and can do together to bring the mutually desired change about.  It looks to the central requirement of organizational leadership, particularly as it relates to risk, and then suggests a sequence of key activities with concrete suggestions and case studies of strategies that have been used by other arts organizations.

This tool-kit is based on the premise that change is a good thing, a creative and engaging process, and a very rewarding one.   The suggested strategies, concrete activities, case studies and annotated bibliography provide ample evidence of change work being not only possible, needed and desirable but, as well, leading to positive outcomes related to supporting a broad range of artistic expression, centering the arts within the day-to-day lives of communities, empowering and enabling communities and generating increased community involvement in arts organizations through increased audiences, retention of staff, board, sponsors and volunteers.

This tool-kit is about change – a value as familiar to the arts ecology as creating, producing and presenting new work.  In this sense, this tool-kit fits naturally into the creative processes of arts communities and supports the arts ecology in expanding its horizons and including the voices of Aboriginal and ethno-racial communities as a central value and articulation of Canadian identity.