CPAMO POC Cohort 4

Pluralism and Organizational Change 

Through Inclusive Equity Education in the Arts

Cohort 4: 2022-2023


This project, consistent with CPAMO’s values, promotes a transformation in arts practices, and demonstrates the importance of inclusive arts practices in a rapidly shifting arts eco-system.  Indigenous and racialized artists and arts organizations, presenters (which includes here theatres, publishers, galleries, producers) – need to connect more directly with each other and form trusting and nurturing relationships that support emerging and established arts practices and artists.

We acknowledge the need to transform systems of financial and human resource support to arts practices, and to engage and support artists, arts organizations, and artistic practices that embody a more inclusive grass-roots and ground-up network to both identify and bring forward arts practices that support the diversity of the arts ecosystem.

We are committed to develop and sustain pluralism initiatives that have a particular focus on impact, cultural and artistic diversity and clear sets of practices that will forward our education and actions on pluralism and equity in the arts.

Our goals are to:

  • Increase personal and organizational cultural competencies, and develop an understanding of the opportunities and challenges that they represent and how that presents opportunities/challenges to pluralism;
  • Assess barriers to participation and leadership by Indigenous, racialized and other historically marginalized artists and communities, and how to remove them;
  • Develop a community of practice to learn from each other and share;
  • Develop resources/strategies to sustain this work; and
  • Connect with Canada’s rapidly growing Indigenous and racialized communities to engage them as creative and interpretive artists, board members, managers, volunteers, audiences.


This project will involve 21 collaborative partners to develop a comprehensive and community-based approach in transformative pluralist practices.

Live Five Independent Theatre

On the Boards Staging Company

It’s Not a Box Theatre

Burnt Thicket Theatre

Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival Inc.

Persephone Theatre

Westben Centre for Connection and Creativity through Music and

Art Gallery of Hamilton

Manitoba Craft Council

SUM Theatre

Pocket Concerts

Arts Etobicoke

Dancing Sky Theatre

 Xenia Concerts

Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre

Globe Theatre

Saskatchewan Association of Theatre Professionals

Saskatchewan Craft Council

Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan

Choral Canada

Playwrights Guild of Canada


This collaborative project sets out to enable each participating organization to implement strategies embedding pluralism in five areas.

A) Developing Organizational Leadership/personal responsibility to:

  • Develop succession planning to engage Indigenous and diverse racialized artists and communities;
  • Connect with our membership and community, and join in conversations with other disciplines, to develop a shared understanding of pluralism and collaborative efforts to support implementation of organizational change efforts;
  • Apply tools to increase our understanding and contemporary knowledge of vocabulary, policies, planning processes to support implementation of pluralism initiatives;
  • Learn best practices for implementing systemic change initiatives.

B) Engaging diverse arts practices/communities to increase understanding of:

  • Demographic changes within the Indigenous and racialized diversity of Canada and the art forms and practices of these artists;
  • Community cultural mapping and ways to curate Indigenous and racialized arts practices;
  • Indigenous and racialized communities/artists needs in terms of resources and opportunities to participate in individual arts practices and organizational change efforts.

C) Creating programming with increased understanding of how to:

  • Work with Indigenous and racialized artists in ways that respect and honour their artistic forms/practices;
  • Curate the creative work of Indigenous and racialized artists, including the provision of mentorships and residencies where possible to engage these artists in collaborative work;
  • Market and promote the arts of Indigenous and racialized artists; and
  • Collaborate in the creation of work by indigenous and racialized artists.

D) Diversifying membership/audience by increasing participant:

  • Understanding target marketing tools (including social media) to nurture an Indigenous and diverse membership/audience;
  • Linking communications on organizational efforts to reach out to and engage Indigenous and diverse communities;
  • Engaging in efforts of Indigenous and diverse communities; that may be arts-related or of importance to these communities through sharing resources, e.g., sharing resources (space, staff support);
  • Demonstrating consistent commitment to pluralism through dialogue with diverse communities throughout the programming process, and developing consistent diverse programming to show commitment to pluralism and to engage diverse communities in the dialogue on programming choices.

E) Enabling Participants to Diversify Staff, Board and Volunteers:

  • Developing benchmarks for measuring and increasing diversity;
  • Connecting with Indigenous and racialized communities to engage their interest in the organization;
  • Consistently and strategically engaging processes and outcomes to include Indigenous and racialized communities in roles throughout the organization (including leadership positions), using such strategies as mentoring, job-shadowing, paid internships, and targeted hiring.

F) Developing Toolkits for dissemination and to guide ongoing development/implementation by participants and, in future, other interested arts organizations:

  • Undertaking a literature review of existing materials, including those developed by project partners; related to the components of this project;
  • Conducting research on evidence-based practices;
  • Collating the most pertinent material from the materials studied to create/harmonize toolkits;
  • Testing this material with participants;
  • Promoting and disseminating the resulting tool-kit to participant organizations, their boards/members/communities and to the not-for-profit arts communities.

This project will develop a community of practice amongst the partners with the hopes of being a catalyst for sectoral change with the participants working together and supporting each other.  Toolkits will be developed for each of these components to enable the project participants to implement, assess and evaluate change within their own organizations, organizational change work while engaging their members in similar processes.


  1. Working Sessions involving project participants working together in monthly meetings. The project staff and external consultant will design and facilitate these meetings.
  2. Small group projects involving project participants who are addressing similar issues.
  3. Toolkits. Developed with project partners to enable and facilitate initiatives to promote pluralism/equity.
  4. One-on-One meetings with project staff to support the development and implementation of their organizational change initiatives.
  5. Google Groups / Slack for shared documents providing an archive of materials shared with participants.
  6. Meetings with Indigenous and racialized artists/arts organizations to enable project participants to develop working relationships through forums and showcases of artistic practices of Indigenous and racialized artists.


  • Developing the knowledge/skills of each organization in delivering such programs to their members;
  • Engaging the members of these organizations in these activities and enabling them to begin a process to replicate these initiatives, including establishing internal committees and processes for equity/diversity change work;
  • Documenting/disseminating evidence-based practices to interested arts organizations and funding bodies;
  • Setting standards for work in the field of equity/diversity in the arts – locally, provincially and nationally;
  • Developing participants’ credibility as organizations with knowledge, experiences, resources and connections to advance work on equity/diversity in the arts;
  • Engaging organizations in professional/organizational development/implementation on equity/diversity issues in the arts.
  1. Establish baseline data through a set of benchmarks for planning and outcomes for implementation of diversity initiatives in staffing, board and volunteer recruitment, outreach and community engagement, programming diverse artists. Such an approach will use population/census data to assess where each participant is currently at and to set goals for implementation of initiatives.
  2. Develop internal/external communications, enabling participants to engage their internal and external stakeholders in the development and implementation of diversity initiatives. Tools will include newsletters, board/staff/member meetings (including annual meetings), and online and social media.
  3. Assess understanding of curatorial practices. CPAMO will work with participants to enhance their understanding of Indigenous and culturally diverse arts practices, e.g., what they are, the diversity within them, participation rates of their communities in arts activities, the quantity of their performances/artistic output, how they develop their work and assistance they need.
  4. Work with participants to further engage Indigenous and racialized arts organizations/artists through forums/artistic showcases as well as having artists participate in/make presentations to the participants in the education/training sessions.
  5. Evidence-based research. This will be provided to participants both in anticipation of, and in response to, professional learning/development and organizational needs.
  6. Transparency and accountability through the development/implementation of inclusive practice to its staff, board, members, volunteers and funders.
  7. Work with participants to engage in program reviews in sustaining ways to embed inclusive practices as core values in operating processes that will permeate through the organizations.


charles c smith  – CPAMO’s Executive Director, has worked as an executive in municipal government, the legal profession,  the human rights tribunal and arts organizations and as professor in post-secondary education arts administration programs.  He has developed/ implemented policies/programs that address Indigenous and racialized communities on such items as employment equity, human rights, immigrant settlement, Indigenous self-determination and artistic expression.  He has developed/delivered educational change programs and authored many reports, including assessments and evaluations.  In the arts he has written equity evaluation/audit reports for the Toronto International Film Festival, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Presents, Sony Centre for the Arts, Ontario Association of Art Galleries, Media Arts Network Ontario, Ontario College and Art and Design University, the University of Toronto Scarborough, and the National Arts Services Organizations.

Kevin A. Ormsby – CPAMO’s Program Manager has worked with boards/committees of the Toronto Arts Council, NIA Centre for the Performing Arts, Prologue to the Performing Arts, and the Canadian Dance Assembly. Experienced in the teaching methods of the Critical Response Process, Kevin has worked with CPAMO on the initiatives noted in item #13 above and has used his marketing and communications knowledge and skills to support CPAMO’s networking and information sharing through social media.  He has also contributed to and written reports for CPAMO addressing issues of collaboration and partnerships to engage Indigenous and racialized communities in arts activities.