Artscape is a not-for-profit organization that
makes space for creativity and transforms communities.
Artscape's Advancing Toronto’s Centre for Creative Sector Entrepreneurship, released in February 2011, presents the findings of a year-long research and sector engagement study that sought to understand the macro-market challenges facing the creative and cultural sector in Toronto.The report calls for the creation of a centre to cultivate the entrepreneurial capacity and business skills of self-employed individuals and micro-businesses across a spectrum of creative and cultural sector enterprises as a means to support the development of a resilient, sustainable, innovative and successful sector that makes a growing contribution to the prosperity of the city.
“It is time to give creative and cultural sector workers better tools to help them thrive so that they are better able to spread their creativity across the city and make an even greater contribution to the city’s prosperity,” said Tim Jones, President and CEO of Artscape. “If the first wave of Cultural Renaissance helped put ‘creativity on display’ in our city, the second wave in contrast needs to be about putting ‘creativity to work’.”
Toronto’s cultural and creative sector already employs more than 150,000 people in more than 9,500 enterprises to generate $9 billion in GDP. The majority of these enterprises are individual sole traders and micro-enterprises employing fewer than 10 people, and many are struggling financially.
In the GTA, there are currently more than 90 trade associations, arts service organizations, business incubators and convergence centres that play a variety of roles in the provision of entrepreneurial support to the creative and cultural sector. While the number of programs, approaches and sub-sector specialization is a plus, there are three major problems: a) the fragmentation of service provision makes it very challenging for creative professionals to know what is available, as well as where to plug in; b) the programs are generally more focused on survival skills than strategic growth; and c) fears about business among members of the creative community result in poor uptake in generic business support programs.
The report recommends that GTA needs a place that acts as a portal to what is available, while at the same time clustering and coordinating the efforts of those providing services. A facility to support creative and cultural sector entrepreneurship would meet a number of strategic goals, including:
Once realized, a Centre for Creative Sector Entrepreneurship will be poised to build capacity in sector by improving access to networks and information; engendering collaboration within and between sectors; forming stronger connections to existing services; and developing more tailored services and programs.
Artscape’s approach to the research, sector engagement and strategic development process encompassed a literature review and skills gaps analysis; training provision analysis; reviews of Canadian and international precedents and the development of case studies; one-on-one interviews with sector-based skill development leaders and post-secondary institutions; and focus groups with creative and cultural sector ‘struggling graduates’, small creative and cultural sector startups, students and established individual artists.
Work on the study was guided by an Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from the City of Toronto Economic Development Office, Cultural Careers Council Ontario, Toronto Fashion Incubator, Toronto Business Development Centre and Ontario Ministry of Culture. The study was funded in part by The Ontario Trillium Foundation Future Fund and the City of Toronto Economic Development & Culture Division.