Where are we now? A visual summary.

Prior to the release of Canada Council’s Digital Strategy Fund results, CAPACOA’s Digital Innovation Council and the Digital Arts Service Symposium held a joint web conference on April 18 to enable digital enthusiasts to share information about their work, and to envision next steps for a collective digital future for the arts.

Below is a visual summary of the conversation, and some reflections.


This visual summary contextualizes the initiatives that were outlined during the online webinar on April 18, 2018. Interesting synergies emerged between projects, and visualizing them in terms of the stages of the projects, the people and organizations involved, and how they fit within Canada Council’s Digital Strategy Fund gives way to new insights.

I chose to stick with the structure of the session, which was based on the Digital Strategy Fund’s three major components. Visualization based on geography, sector, budget, longevity, would all offer important and critical perspectives, but that would require much more background research to achieve.

It will be worthwhile to update this visual summary to include the projects from the first round of the Digital Strategy Fund, and to offer additional context. In the mean time, here are some of my own initial thoughts.

1. Strategic Digital Literacy Initiatives do not exist in a vacuum.

I was really surprised that none of the digital literacy projects existed solely in that category. They touch on public engagement or transformation one way or another, and in some cases, both. To me, this suggests that perhaps our need for digital literacy has moved from the level of “know how” to the level of “know why”.

Simply learning about technology is no longer enough. We need to know why we are learning about it, and then, how to apply that learning strategically.

2. Transformation does not take place in a silo.

Those in the early exploration stages have yet to articulate a clear plan, or didn’t have a chance to discuss it during the webinar, so their final placement on this diagram would very likely change. What is fascinating is that the transformation initiatives that are further along invariably cross over into public engagement.

It is true that many arts organizations ultimate serve a larger community, but the visualization suggests that the vision for transformative initiatives should make clear the impact beyond the organization itself.

3. Strong partnerships are the cornerstones for developing cross-sectoral solutions.

This might be confirmation bias, as all the facilitators of the webinar are directly or indirectly involved with the two partnership-based initiatives that participated in the webinar. However, I have a strong hunch that many of the digital transformation work we are engaged in are leading towards a cross-sectoral digital strategy across the arts, culture and heritage sectors.

What’s Next?

To get there, we need to overcome numerous technical and social hurdles, none of which are trivial by any means. We need to identify shared priorities, alignment of values, and take responsibility for keeping the conversation going.

As the co-director of the Digital Arts Services Symposium, this will be a major priority at the next edition slated for March 18–20, 2019.

Only by pooling our respective strengths and resources do we have even a chance to help future generations of arts and culture movements in Canada to not just survive, but thrive, in the digital age.

What do you think? Did this visualization generate new insights for you? How can we better visualize the various strategic initiatives? Let’s keep talking on twitter @bemusednetwork @artspond @CAPACOA @digitalASO.


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.