In 1998 The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada and The Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity invited the chairs, executive directors and artistic directors of 20 of Canada’s largest arts organizations to a “Summit”. That first Summit was predicated upon the belief that these influential leaders – volunteers, artists and managers – could, by working together, better support Canadian artistic aspirations.
Over the past fifteen years, the Canadian Arts Summit has developed into a unique cultural leadership forum. The key ingredients of every annual Summit, now include:
- A provocative keynote speaker or overarching theme
- Presentation by artists
- Case studies from participants
- Discussion in formal and informal sessions
- Lots of opportunity for exchanges among like-minded people from every discipline and region.
But the Canadian Arts Summit is more than just a weekend event. It is a “virtual” organization. It is not an incorporated entity and it does not have members.* Instead, its work is carried on by a volunteer Steering Committee appointed from among those who have been invited to participate. To date, it has brought together the chief executives, artistic directors and board chairs of some 40 of Canada’s top 50 not-for-profit cultural institutions: symphony orchestras, theatres, opera and ballet companies, as well as heritage and art museums, and film festivals.
Throughout the year, the Steering Committee’s role is to:
- Develop the annual Summit weekend event.
- Serve as the overall governance body.
In addition, the Advocacy sub-committee, formed by volunteers keen to deal with specific issues, works throughout the year to oversee the implementation of the Advocacy Plan, as accepted by the Summit participants, and to develop proposals for advocacy for Summit participants.
At the core of the Canadian Arts Summit are the following strategic intentions:
- To achieve a common understanding of the state and value of the arts in Canada.
- To enhance the awareness and resourcing of the arts in Canada.
- To collaborate for the development of strategies and best practices to strengthen the sector and its constituents.
Summit participants believe that, if the importance of the arts within society is to be understood and treated seriously, it is up to everyone involved in the sector, in their individual roles as leaders, to communicate the facts.
*While the governance of the Canadian Arts Summit is undertaken by the Steering Committee of volunteers, any legal or fiduciary obligations are undertaken by Business / Arts in its role as the Secretariat.