Updated: Dec 21, 2022
by Lisa Mackay
For the past few months, the Rozsa Foundation has been sharing research and analysis from Hill Strategies as part of a jointly supported project called Arts Insights Canada. Alongside the Azrieli and Metcalf Foundations, we have been supporting and collaborating with Kelly Hill, an arts researcher based in Hamilton, Ontario with nearly 20 years of experience in the sector. The project began with Hill and Jason van Eyk from the Azrieli Foundation, who in the fall of 2020 got together to brainstorm how to get much-needed arts research data out to the arts sector. Van Eyk then approach the Metcalf and Rozsa Foundations. “Research has always been an important aspect of our work in the arts community,” says Rozsa Foundation Executive Director Simon Mallett. “We saw this as an opportunity for a national collaboration that would deliver timely and applicable information to artists, arts managers, and arts organizations. We're all searching for help in guiding our work, around equity, anti-racism, decolonization, Covid recovery, and more, and we're hopeful there is some useful guidance that can be mined from the data available." When the players met again to define the project, they established the need for an advisory committee to direct the themes explored in the project and contribute to the reports. The advisory committee includes some familiar names, and comprises Parmela Attariwala, an arts advocate from Vancouver, Reneltta Arluk from the Banff Centre, Sanjay Shahani from the Edmonton Arts Council, Cynthia Lickers-Sage from the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, Kimberley Rampersad from Shaw Festival, and Laurence D. Dubuc from the University of Montreal. “The advisory panel has been instrumental in guiding the research,” says Kelly Hill. “They established the key themes that we're pursuing and have contributed to each of the reports so far. People with specific experiences and expertise will also be writing blog posts on behalf of the initiative.” The work itself involves compiling, distilling, and meta-analyzing data previously collected. Much of this data is being analyzed for the first time, and is data that no other arts researchers have looked at in Canada. “It would probably be classified as secondary research, but that downplays its importance, in my mind,” explained Hill. “I'm seeking out and analyzing lots of datasets that no one else has looked at in the arts for the Statistical Insights on the Arts reports. The work of the Arts Research Monitor offers a summary of other people's research, with an analysis of how it pertains to, and is important to be known by, the arts sector.” Hill, the advisory committee, and the Foundation supporters hope the information will be helpful to the arts sector as it moves out of the pandemic and begins to reimagine a different future. “We are aiming to provide news they can use,” says Hill. “We provided top-quality, meaningful, and impactful research products of practical significance to Canadian artists and arts workers., and through Arts Insights Canada, we provided data-informed analysis through a contemporary critical lens.” Following the conclusion of the project, Hill is holding a webinar with advisory panelists Cynthia Lickers-Sage and Parmela Attariwala to examine the highlights and key findings of the work. They will also discuss the gaps and limitations of the project. Jason van Eyk of the Azrieli Foundation will be hosting the webinar, which takes place March 15 from 2-3 EDT.
"We wanted to talk through what we found; the key findings and how we think they could be applied, and the kinds of results that surprised us,” says Hill. “There will also be plenty of time for Q&A, for participants to share their thoughts on the project, as well as the state of arts research in Canada. It would also be great to get ideas for the future of Arts Insights Canada, based on the needs of the community.” The webinar, which will be conducted in English, is free and open to the public. Registration is required. The webinar will be recorded and shared on hillstrategies.com after the event. You can find all of Kelly's articles and insight in the Arts Research Monitor and Statistical Insights on the Arts sections of his website: hillstrategies.com.