Strength in Numbers

Audience development could be the single most important issue facing the performing arts sector. Paul Hamlyn Foundation partnered with Cleveland Foundation to commission a book about innovative audience-building strategies for the arts, written by respected evaluation consultant, Annabel Jackson.

This free book takes a broader view across the sector and focuses on the different parts of an organization and how they fit together.

Why you need to know: programming, artistic planning and direction, organizational, business and strategic planning

Download the book: Imagining Arts Organizations for New Audiences: Values and Valuing

Feeling Older?

There is no doubt, Canada is getting older. For the first time, the number of persons aged 65 years and older exceeded the number of children aged 0 to 14 years.

While Canada’s estimated population was 35,851,800 on July 1, 2015, an increase of 0.9%, the actual growth rate was slower than the previous year.

Populations grew above the national average in Nunavut (+2.3%), Alberta (+1.8%), Yukon (+1.2%), Saskatchewan (+1.0%), Manitoba (+1.0%) and British Columbia (+1.0%). However, Newfoundland and Labrador (-0.2%) and New Brunswick (-0.1%) actually saw a decline in population.

Why you need to know: environmental scans, demographic trends, societal analysis

Food For Thought: Outcomes for Impact

“One of the big impediments that charities face is that they are not outcomes-driven. They don’t know what their outcomes are, they don’t know how to measure them and they don’t know how to speak about them.”

“We need to change the frame from [our] need to sell to focusing on the customer’s need to buy.”

“It’s not just measuring afterward but predicting the outcomes… so we can make better decisions.”

Why you should read: strategic planning, outcomes and impacts.

Read the full article: “How charities can take their impact to the next level” Paul Attfield for The Globe and Mail; an interview with Jason Saul, the founder and chief executive officer of U.S.-based Mission Measurement.

ACCA Announces 2015/16 Board & Committee Members

At ACCA’s 8th Annual General Meeting on September 18th, the Nominating Committee presented the following Board slate for 2015/16:

Anne Frost, Toronto, ON – Treasurer
Paul Gravett, Vancouver, BC
Elizabeth MacKinnon, Ottawa, ON – Secretary
Jennifer Murray, Toronto, ON
Virginia Stephen, Lunenburg, NS
Jerry Smith, Toronto, ON – President
Sandra Thomson, Nanaimo, BC – Vice-President
Lidia Varbanova, Montreal, QC
Lucy White, Toronto, ON

Board Committees for 2015/16 are as follows:

Marketing and Communications Committee
Provides overall guidance and direction for website, marketing, member communications, and ACCA event promotion.

Chair: Paul Gravett, Vancouver
Members: Debra Chandler, Toronto; Kathleen Darby, Ladysmith; Patricia Huntsman, Nanoose Bay; Jerry Smith, Etobicoke; Lidia Varbanova, Montreal; Signe Barlow (Staff support)

Programming Committee
Recommends and organizes professional development workshops and seminars for ACCA membership.

Co-Chairs: Lucy White, Toronto
Members: Jennifer Mallard, Toronto; Sue Harvey, Vancouver; Keely Kemp, Toronto; Jennifer Murray, Toronto; Lidia Varbanova, Montreal

Membership Recruitment & Retention Committee
Recommends and organizes services for ACCA members.

Chair: Sandra Thomson, Nanaimo
Members: Angela Birdsell, Fredericton; Jenny Mitchell, Ottawa; Terry Schwalm, Saskatoon; Virginia Stephen, Lunenburg

New Member Review Committee
Chair: Micheline McKay, Toronto
Members: Carrie Brooks-Joiner, Burlington; Terry Schwalm, Saskatoon; Cheryl Ewing, Kitchener; Jenny Ginder, Toronto; Leslie Thompson, Vancouver; Lynn Werker, Vancouver

Nominating Committee
Chair: Sandra Thomson, Nanaimo
Members: Jerry Smith, Etobicoke; vacancy

Noun or Verb?


Is PLAN a noun (the name of a thing, person or place), or a verb (an action word, or a state of being)? Perhaps Leonard Bernstein saw it as a noun (“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan and not quite enough time.”), as did Dwight D. Eisenhower (“Plans are useless, planning is indispensable.”) and  Anatole France (“To accomplish great things, we need not only act but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”)

But Brecht must have considered it a verb (“Plans are always ruined by the littleness of those who ought to carry them out.”) as did Donald Trump (“I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focussing exclusively on the present. That’s where the fun is.”)

The Board of Directors of Arts Consultants Canada / Consultants canadiens en arts (ACCA) – like all good consultants – would like to offer a somewhat balanced viewpoint!  It is both – a noun AND a verb; as the following summary indicates, we have been planning our work, as well as working our plan:

ACCA Strategic Plan (2012-2015) Summary

We are a professional association of consultants, established in 2006, with the common dedication to advancing excellence in the field. We are all acknowledged arts consultants who adhere to the association’s Code of Professional Conduct, and are accepted through a peer-juried process.Our association’s founding objectives assist both arts consultants and the arts and culture sector at large, by providing networking opportunities and facilitating a forum for discussion of issues of concern to the arts and professional consultants.

OUR  MISSION:  To advance and promote ethical, excellent and effective consulting in Canada’s arts and culture sector.

OUR  VISION:  ACCA is nationally recognized as the nexus of arts consulting practise in Canada.

OUR  VALUES:  We believe that the arts play a crucial role in the development of individuals and society. We are committed to: high professional standards, integrity and leadership.

ACCA’s strategic goals are:

Goal 1: Clients find consultants
Connect clients with ethical and effective consulting by (1) raising awareness of ACCA and its members with potential clients, and (2) improving the consultant selection process and client/consultant suitability.

Goal 2: Consultants find colleagues
Increase networking and mutual knowledge exchange among consultants by (1) increasing/enabling/facilitating collaboration amongst members, (2) strengthening members’ practice, (3) increasing membership, and (4) aligning membership fees and categories.

Goal 3: Consultants find (more) work
Increase professional opportunities for consultants by (1) increasing RFPs posted by ACCA over three years, and (2) building the case for arts consulting.

With minimal but efficient staff resources, ACCA has relied – and will continue to rely – on the time, talent and effort of its committees (Professional Development, Membership Recruitment and Retention, Marketing and Communication), made up of both Board and volunteer members. The Board reviews and updates this strategic plan annually.

What are our next steps? In concert with ACCA’s AGM (September 18, 2015; 3:30 PM; Metro Hall, John Street, Toronto), the Board will take time to review the past three years, and refresh goals and strategies for the future.

I ask the membership of ACCA – what do you want to see in our next plan/ongoing planning?

ACCA Survey Results

Have you ever wondered who we are, who makes up ACCA, and do we have an impact? The Membership Recruitment and Retention Committee (Angela Birdsell, Fredericton; Carrie Brooks- Joiner, Burlington; Virginia Stephen, Edmonton; Sandra Thomson – Chair, Nanaimo) asked the membership to help fill in the blanks, to put flesh on the bones, as it were. Using Survey Monkey as the platform, the MRR Committee sent out survey requests to the 71 members of ACCA across Canada, over April/May, to see if 2014 had been a good year.Of the 71 invitations, 3 regretted that they could not participate, a mixture of mat leave and career shifts, and 43 of the 68 potential respondents shared with us:  that’s a 63% participation rate!

Arts Consultants Canada members provided consulting services in ALL provinces and territories of Canada:

en 1
Although the vast majority of ACCA member respondents worked exclusively in Canada (85%), the reach of some members is well beyond the geographic borders – largely in the USA, but also with virtual or digital access around the globe.As a reflection of the diversity of art forms, and their providers, supporters and funders  – our client base as ACCA members – respondents  identified the richness of those who seek out consulting sources; at the top end of sectoral demand for services, 58% of respondents reported clients from the performing arts/facilities sector, 55% reported their clients came from municipal, provincial and federal governments,  and 50% of ACCA respondents reported clients came from national, regional and local service organizations.


While almost half of the contracts came from “other” clients outside the suggested categories (45%), almost a  third of ACCA members also reported clients in community arts based arts activities (32%), as well as the visual arts sector (32%); approximately one in six ACCA members served clients in the heritage sites/museum sector, one in ten worked with the aboriginal arts sector, one in eight reported client work in the film/TV/Social Media sector, and one in twenty reported contracts in the Literary sector.

Can you make a living offering consulting services to the Arts and Culture sector in Canada; many of the members of ACCA could be supportive of that conclusion:

Trying to get a handle on the nature of ACCA members’ arts consulting work – what services do you provide, what are the issues that are being addressed and what are the outcomes that resulted from the work – perhaps a word based graphic (Word It Out) offers the best flavour:Services:

Outcomes realized:

Key challenges, issues, trends and growing needs that your clients are experiencing?

University of British Columbia (UBC) Centre for Cultural Planning and Development

The international University of British Columbia (UBC) Centre for Cultural Planning and Development is offering a new series of online professional development courses and workshops. Designed to meet the needs of professionals and administrators working in all levels of government, arts and cultural organizations, and cultural industries, these courses and workshops can be taken individually for professional development, or applied to the UBC Certificate in Cultural Planning – an international professional learning program delivered 100% online.  Registration is now open for the following online courses, starting September 28.

Visit the following courses taught by ACCA members and presenters:

Cultural Planning: An International Perspective
with Dr. Lidia Varbanova

Cultural Entrepreneurship
with Dr. Lidia Varbanova

Creative Placemaking
with Pru Robey, Artscape

Insurance Needs for Consultants

JERRY SMITH, Young Associates |

Arts Consultants Canada/Consultants canadiens en arts (ACCA) recently surveyed its membership about their level of awareness and understanding over two particular areas of insurance needs – Management Liability and Professional Liability. With a 25% response rate, some 80% of participants identified themselves as ACCA members – current, potential, former – and many of the rest (18%) were supporters active in the sector (e.g. funders).

Respondents were asked to identify how often they were asked for advice on board insurance (often called Directors and Officers / D & O coverage); according to respondents, 80% of client Board members asked (often + occasionally), as well as 72% of staff.  However, consultants did not necessarily have high levels of confidence in responding to these queries (50% moderate confidence, and 42% low confidence.); less than 1 in 4 respondents had high levels of understanding about where board members or NFPs may have exposure to personal liability.

A similar profile emerged when respondents were asked about Professional Liability Insurance, also known as Errors and Omissions, protection from possible claims arising from actions of professional negligence.  Less than 1 in 10 respondents felt they had a high level of understanding, and the vast majority admitted to only moderate (56%) or low levels (35%) of understanding. While the vast majority of respondents do use a formal contract or letter of engagement (57% always, 36% usually), an excellent step in mitigating any risk, it may not be sufficient.  At some point, almost half (46%) of consultants have been asked by clients to provide proof of their own professional liability insurance, and more than a third of consultants (35%) have been deterred from bidding on a contract because they didn’t have Professional Liability coverage.

According to Steve Beatty, President of CultureONE, “Those who can, create. Those who can’t, insure.”  That’s what 25 years experience in arts and entertainment insurance has taught him. “We love the arts, the excitement, the creativity and the passion.  But we know in a creative world there are lots of risks – some predictable, others not so much. CultureONE specializes in managing the risks unique to creatives and creative organizations; we craft programs for you, designed to help protect you from the things you may not have seen coming.  Providing insurance for the arts is the only thing we do.”

with Steve Beatty, cultureONE

Wednesday, April 15th @ 3:30 PM
Metro Hall, Toronto


Chicken One Day…Feathers the Next: Managing Your Consulting Career

DEBRA CHANDLER, Chandler Consulting |

Job security? Hah!  Human interaction, challenge, intellectual exercise, helping people and industry? Yah!  Self-reliance and flexibility – most of the time.  Steady contracts? Maybe. This is arts consulting.

Many of us fell into consulting, after long periods of employment that was good, wonderful or miserable. But, we fell into it knowing what we knew, and willing to fly by the seat of our pants a bit to learn more, and to create as much work as we could handle.

And just who are we as consultants?

We are all highly individual, but we do have a few things in common. By and large, we are

  • Curious
  • Creative
  • Energetic “Do-ers”
  • Analytical
  • Solution oriented

In addition, like the generally higher-paid Management Consultants in the corporate world, we have the following skills:

  • Logical reasoning
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Ingenuity
  • Ability to work well with others

So – we certainly don’t run around like chickens, with or without our heads cut off. And we are certainly good for more than one meal, although we often have to feed 5-10 people at once with our ideas.

We have to manage current projects and wrap up past projects while we are constantly scratching the yard for the next project.  Sometimes I feel like I am running in headless circles, because my head has exploded.  There are weeks when it is just very hard to continue to think clearly about 4-5 clients at once, or, dare I say it, to care about all 4-5 of them, at once.

Those are the Chicken weeks.  Stuffed, dressed and plentiful.  Free run, butter-infused or complete wild turkeys, the work is great and we take all we can get.

Then come the Feather weeks, when you long for that frantic Chicken-week pace as the empty hours tick by, and your ideas, calls, and research turn up no work, or work that will start… in a month.

Using the Bones to Make Soup – Drown those Feathers!

When you have bills to pay, it is hard to take advantage of the “down” time to learn something new online or in person, take someone out for coffee or lunch, or attend an event where networking can be done.  But we do it, and we must do it.

As self-employed entrepreneurs, we are resourceful enough to take the chicken bones, add a few vegetables and make Soup!

These down times are excellent for getting in touch with ACCA colleagues and friends. Having a chat about what’s new for them, what you learned in the last contract, and what you see coming down the pipeline that will require new knowledge and models.

Part of our curious, creative natures is the love of learning, and Professional Development has to be pretty well constant.  The minute we rest on laurels, or follow formula, we are bound to stumble. Jane Marsland makes a practice of reading a book about something completely unknown to her.  I listen to music totally new to me, and read as well.

What do YOU do in your Feather weeks? Let’s start a Chicken and Feathers dialogue.

If the Feather times persist, take them and stuff a pillow – you deserve the rest! OR take a few and make a dancing hat!

Anchor Gigs

Some consultants have what we call “anchor gigs,” working a regular part-time contract for one particular organization or company.  These are hugely beneficial, and take off the financial stress. These are not necessarily factory chicken jobs – I have been incredibly fortunate to have entrepreneurial, community-oriented anchor gigs that stretched my thinking and brought me into contact with amazing people and places. [Looking for another one right now, actually!] 

Do YOU have an anchor gig? Would you like one? OR do you feel they are restrictive?

One thing is for certain, we are most fortunate to have a networking and learning group like ACCA.

Let’s really use it as a hub for partnering, learning and staving off those feathers!

Job description for Consultant, Learning Design (Boston)
Client & Consumer Services | Boston, MA, United States 

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