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Thanks to Canadian Heritage, OP is once again offering grants to presenters and artists from Rural and or Remote communities who wish to partner to craft a project that will engage their community with the performing arts. This year’s program participants were selected by an independent Selection Committee.

Participants were awarded a grant of $6,000 and will have access to additional funds for accessibility purposes.  Participating presenters and artists took part in a Learning Community on the topic of community engagement, which provided opportunities to learn from specialists and fellow participants.

Each project worked with their ‘Creative Friend’ or mentor to explore particular challenges or ideas and have productive, detailed discussions. This year’s mentors were Ange Loft, Ruben “Beny” Esguera, Fanny Martin, and Krista Dalby.

Participants took part in core group Sessions as well as Spotlight Sessions.

When asked to describe the most memorable part of the group core session on Case Studies and Evaluation, this is what participants had to say:

“Hearing the case studies really brought the range of projects home. I must admit I love the idea of working with a choir as a ready built community. Also, the kids dancing were delightful”

“Even though both guest speakers do different community arts work, it was amazing the correlations and common experiences, and how it relates to our own experiences!”

Here is what folks had to say about the Accessibility session:

“I thought it was going to be Rachel’s excellent presentation. But the breakout was really valuable. And my quote of the day is “no one’s gonna be mad if they know where they’re going”.”

“I will be thinking about accessibility beyond my project – how can we bake it into our artistic and presenting practices?”

“When the accessibility gifts are for everyone the person requiring them is not in the spotlight as the “needy one””

“The most memorable part of this lesson for me was the part that talked about disabilities and how making your shows accessible can boost your attendance greatly, being in a small town that has an aging population it is important for me to make sure they are included and welcome.”

This year’s Spotlight Sessions were open to anyone interested in learning more about community engagement. Webinars took place on:

After the spotlight session with Pam Patel, these were some of the responses from the participants:

“Thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge! I love the transparency and vulnerability of the radical welcome idea, and the new ideas for collaborating with the organizations in my community. I’m excited to take that away from today’s call and into my org.”

“Thanks for sharing your wisdom, experience and vision!  Really inspiring.  I love your notion of Radical Welcome!!!”

The 2022 - 2023 Participants:

The 2021 - 2022 Participants:

Pre-pandemic, ArtsEngageCanada was a resource developed by Ontario Presents to support presenters with an interest in engaging more deeply with their communities. Currently, the project exists in the form of a website:

As articulated in our Statement of Purpose, we believe that art “enriches the lives of individuals and communities, fosters empathy, and builds essential bridges of understanding” and that “presenting organizations are uniquely positioned to facilitate engagement between artists and communities.”

While ArtsEngageCanada is primarily geared towards presenters, the information provided is useful to anyone in the arts with an interest in this topic.

Click here to explore resources from the ArtsEngage Learning Community.