Creative Champions Network supports the development of arts board members

Toronto Arts Foundation’s Creative Champions Network (CCN) began in 2014 in response to our desire to build support and champions for the arts in Toronto. What started as a modest few workshops on The Art of Good Governance, aimed at providing the knowledge and tools to help create stronger arts boards that are better prepared to provide meaningful support to arts organizations, has since evolved into something  much bigger – in the years since, the Foundation has offered over 23 sessions with 60 speakers to hundreds of arts board volunteers.

“The Creative Champions Network was created because it was needed. There are some 2000-plus board members in Toronto, and they want to be the best board members they can be. Hearing from experts or their peers is really the best way to give them the tools they need,” notes Foundation Director and CEO Claire Hopkinson.

“We’ve also heard from board members and arts organizations that this was a gap in the cultural ecosystem, so we felt we had to fill it.”

The program, led by Creative Trust Research Fellow and veteran Toronto arts leader Jini Stolk, has addressed a range of issues that arts board volunteers often encounter during their board terms. Topics have included planning for artistic and management leadership transitions, the board’s role in fundraising, how to foster strong advocacy, and more. In addition to the careful curation of subjects, expert speakers and panelists, Stolk also develops a robust resource package for each session for attendees  to share with their fellow board members.

“I feel this Network is important, especially because of my background in a corporate career,” says CCN member Susan Colbert Wright, a board member with TOES for Dance and ProArteDanza. “Entering the arts, I found a real disparity in peoples’ experience in governance. I think [applying these learnings] is so important – it will strengthen the whole arts organization itself.”

Toronto Arts Foundation believes that the arts community’s volunteer leaders are a powerful force  –and is building a cohesive and collaborative network that encourages shared learning, discussion and collaboration.

“Coming [to the sessions] offers community, a place where you can ask questions and share ideas with your colleagues – colleagues [across the city] you didn’t know you had,” CCN member Charles Falzon, Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University, points out.

“Creative Champions Network is a really important platform and forum to have conversations,” he adds. “ It brings people of like minds together– it truly is a great resource.”

Are you a volunteer board member of a Toronto arts organization? Sign up  for the Creative Champions Network today to receive notifications about upcoming workshops, speakers, and other CCN events.