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ArtBridges' History

2008: Seanna Connell and Kate Austin came up with the idea for ArtBridges and began research and development for the project.

2009: ArtBridges was accepted as an official Project of Tides Canada Initiatives.

2018:  ArtBridges was designated as a Registered National Arts Service Organization and became a registered charity. ArtBridges was also incorporated as a not-for-profit (May 2017). ArtBridges began to operate as its own organization and officially left Tides Canada.

2009–2018: ArtBridges spent the first three years of the project intensively mapping and identifying community-engaged arts initiatives across each province and territory in English and French, and First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) in under-resourced/under-serviced communities. To date, 395 community-engaged arts initiatives have been researched and the list continues to grow.

2009–2018: ArtBridges provided service to people who called or wrote in for mentorship, connections, ideas, and collaborations.

2014: ArtBridges created and implemented an Intended Impact Statement and Theory of Change with Innoweave.

2014–2016: ArtBridges created an Evaluation framework with an external evaluator and conducted 2 years of formal project evaluation.

2008–2018: the ArtBridges project grew with the support of generous grants, individual donations, sponsorships, and membership fees including The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation multi-year grant in the amount of $298,005, The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) multi-year grants in the amounts of $279,400 and $158,000, and Canadian Heritage Support for Interpretation and Translation grants.

2013: ArtBridges launched the Membership Program.

2013: was launched, a new, robust, interactive, bilingual online forum and hub. This followed after running a blog on WordPress for three years. ArtBridges explored an array of online applications and accessible technologies to reach and connect community partners across vast geographies of Canada. ArtBridges has posted hundreds of affordable and accessible community-engaged arts initiatives, information resources, learning opportunities, organization profiles, events, opportunities, and trend reports about community-engaged arts and arts for social change taking place in Canada and disseminated material across Canada, and beyond, via our Community Blog, Facebook, Twitter and newsletters in English and French.

2015: ArtBridges launched Annual Recognition Awards. The juried awards showcase remarkable work in community-engaged arts in Canada in three categories: Innovation!, Resiliency! and Creativity!

2014–2018: ArtBridges created 3 bilingual videos.

2010–2018: ArtBridges gathered and shared several thousand resources including professional development, educational and training opportunities. ArtBridges also disseminated surveys, newsletters, stories and evaluations about developments in the field. These were written collaboratively in-house and by contributing community partners.

2015–2018: ArtBridges went on over 250 site visits across Canada to meet community partners and see community-engaged arts initiatives in action.

2010-2018: ArtBridges presented at and participated in numerous conferences, workshops, webinars, google hangouts, sessions and round-tables.

2013–2018: ArtBridges provided research assistance about community-engaged arts and art for social change in Canada to community partner, The ASC! Project! (Arts for Social Change).

2019: For almost one year now, ArtBridges has been operating as a new charitable organization, not-for-profit, and registered National Arts Service Organization (NASO). We've successfully laid down the foundation of a new organization: setting up payroll, HR, contracts, bookkeeping, financial reporting, Board meetings, complying with CRA and Corporations Canada, issuing charitable tax receipts, banking, setting up Paypal & CanadaHelps, sent out numerous proposals to foundations, and have started to apply for Arts Service grants with government granting programs. With the building of strong organizational foundation, we can slowly build up programming and projects again!

2019: An article by Kate Rowswell on the Tides Canada blog about ArtBridges' new beginnings after 10 great years with Tides.

2019: In collaboration with Centre Résidentiel et Communautaire Jacques-Cartier, in Québec City, ArtBridges surveyed community-engaged arts initiatives across Canada to find out what services there are for homeless youth. We added a search filter on Artbridges' Map and Profile Directory that shows which community-engaged arts initiatives actively serve or work with homeless youth across Canada.

2019: As a community partner over the past six years, ArtBridges assisted the ASC! Project (Arts for Social Change) with research about community-engaged arts across Canada. This year marks the conclusion of the research project. Please read their final report which presents a brief overview.

2019: ArtBridges held its 5th Annual Recognition Awards for Remarkable Community-Engaged Arts! There were 32 submissions for this juried award. The outcomes were: Remarkable Creativity: 1st place – Cirque Hors Piste National Social Circus Gathering, 2nd place – Home2.0; Remarkable Resiliency: 1st place – Thinking Rock Community Arts, 2nd place – Music From Hope; Remarkable Innovation: 1st place – Otahpiaaki. The awards were sponsored by the Ruth Mandel – WHO GIVES Fund.

2020: Like numerous arts organizations across Canada, ArtBridges has navigated through the challenges of working through the pandemic and adapted to new ways of working to continue to be relevant, viable and sustainable. It has not been easy, and we feel for the organizations which have gone into hibernation, or had to close. We have worked hard to keep the information flowing about what’s going on in the field via, with blog posts, Facebook & Twitter, Learning and Resources, and helped people with special requests—assisting with finding mentorship, connections, supplies, and resources, and writing letters of support, all year.  This year we focused on how many in the community-engaged arts field pivoted their programming as a result of the pandemic. We also focused on new BIPOC-led projects, programs and opportunities.

ArtBridges has established a unique voice for community-engaged arts and arts for social change in Canada. ArtBridges has gathered a breadth of knowledge about community arts models, culture, and leadership.


Here's a more detailed look on ArtBridges' history:

ArtBridges' Ten Year History (2008 to 2018)