Mass Culture is…
A collaborative support organization that takes a community based approach to providing diverse parties with the context and connections needed to enhance the equitable mobilization of arts and culture research. By convening cultural workers and academics, Mass Culture provides a platform for knowledge to be explored, widely understood, and mobilized.
In 2015, a group of 5 arts practitioners came together to dream about what a national arts research infrastructure might look like. Since then, the Mass Culture Network, or MCNetwork, has grown to over 700 individuals, both within Canada and internationally. The vast majority of these individuals are public service employees, sector service organization/network employees, or arts organization staff members. Community advocates, arts consultants, academic researchers, individual artists and post-secondary executives are also represented.
In 2018, Mass Culture began community conversations to consider its structure and determine existing knowledge gaps in Canada’s cultural sectors. 25 Gatherings, funded by Toronto Arts Council’s Open Door Program, took place over 2018/19. Also during this time, Mass Culture worked with students from OCAD University‘s Strategic Foresight and Innovation program in order to shape a business model. Mass Culture has, additionally, partnered with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, whose support is allowing Mass Culture to work with arts communities across Canada to plan for the coming 3 years.
As of September 2019, Mass Culture is a charitable organization, having taken on the charitable number of the Canadian Conference of the Arts. Read more: CCA communiqué de presse, CCA Press Release.
HANDBOOK OF POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Mass Culture’s Operations Group, with input from other Working Groups, developed this policy handbook for Mass Culture.
A number of one-pagers have been extracted, below, to ensure easy access.
VISION, PURPOSE & MISSION
VISION: WHERE MASS CULTURE IS GOING
By circulating robust, inclusive research through a healthy network, Mass Culture will deepen the capacity of communities to develop an interconnected Canadian arts sector, empowered to reflect and make informed decisions towards a future in which the arts sector in Canada can thrive.
PURPOSE: WHY MASS CULTURE EXISTS
Mass Culture is committed to ensuring all communities have the ability to mobilize and benefit from arts and culture research.
MISSION: WHAT MASS CULTURE DOES
Mass Culture is dedicated to recognizing, undertaking and disseminating professional research that is relevant to the Canadian arts community. By convening cultural workers and academics, Mass Culture provides a platform for knowledge to be explored, widely understood, and mobilized.
THE CODE THAT GUIDES MASS CULTURE'S WORK
Engaging cultural pluralism and diverse perspectives through the work
An ongoing practice of defining and improving access with communities
Implement and evaluate Mass Culture’s decent work practices in service to the sector, our team(s), and each employee
RECONCILIATION & RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Making collaborative action toward mutually beneficial goals between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities
Deepen relationships and creative approaches that address the needs of the sector across generations
Ongoing evaluation to improve Mass Culture’s work. Commit to sustainable practices in operations, programming, and projects
Conducting ethical research, collecting accurate data, valuing transparency, and embracing debate
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Mass Culture is a collaborative support organization that takes a community based approach to providing diverse parties with the context and connections needed to enhance the equitable mobilization of arts and culture research.
At the moment, Mass Culture’s goal is to engage the arts community in a dialogue(s) about arts research. Bringing people together to share information on arts related topics that matter to them, builds information pathways that outline the sector’s priorities, establishes connections, and ultimately, determines a way forward for Mass Culture as an entity.
In 2012, the Canadian Conference of the Arts closed its operations, which for over 67 years established a strong reputation for arts & cultural policy leadership. With its closing, there was a major gap in Canada for reliable policy information about the Canadian arts sector. Large scale initiatives and an opulence of research currently exists and/or is being generated. What many individuals and institutions across the country are looking for right now are new ways of connecting, thinking and sharing that information.
Mass Culture intends to enhance, rather than duplicate, efforts through new connections and the promotion of research. Mass Culture will also help identify and fill research gaps where work is not yet undertaken.
At the moment, the plan of action is to provide:
Engaged conversation, in-person and online
Learning exchanges, peer-to-peer
Research collaborations, making connections among people and striking up projects
Visual depiction created by Tara Mazurk & Clayton Windatt
Since 2015, Mass Culture has worked within and been informed by the arts sector, actively creating its network and organizational model. Four years later, with the assistance of graduate students from OCAD’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation program, Mass Culture has emerged into a collaborative support organization, connecting those involved in and affected by research efforts in the arts. Mass Culture will continue offering support in advancing dialogue and disseminating information with the purpose of ensuring all communities have the ability to mobilize and benefit from arts and culture research.
Mass Culture is run by an Operations Working Group who is overseeing its development. There are a number of Working Groups engaged on various areas such as network building, engagement practices, communications, and digital strategy.
Funding received by the Toronto Arts Council’s Open Door Program allowed, from 2018 to 2019, community-centred consultations in the form of casual, gathering-style conversations informed and enhanced a wide range of arts research issues. These gatherings also informed the future of Mass Culture in regards to the types of supports that Mass Culture can provide.
Mass Culture has designed a flexible framework for Gatherings to convene diverse perspectives around a research topic. One goal is that Gatherings result in stronger connections and future conversations on cultural research topics within and across communities.
Mass Culture Gatherings are intended to generate new insights and connections through open and intimate conversations. Gatherings break out of existing silos and offer a diversity of perspectives to the topic being discussed. Hosts are encouraged to consider the diversity of sectors, regions and roles invited to take part in the conversation, and to support critical dialogue on their chosen topic. The Gatherings are an opportunity to bring together local leaders, make new contacts outside their existing network, and provide an open space for discussion.
Mass Culture is primarily interested in building a system for research, as the generation and sharing of information is central to exploring and understanding. By creating a space for professional arts research to be generated without the aim or expectation of a desired policy result, the core integrity of research is maintained. Although Mass Culture’s hope is to ensure the usability of research, how research is utilized once produced will have no part in directing the research. While Mass Culture is not an advocacy entity, individuals and organizations who engage in the Mass Culture network may end up using the research for their own advocacy purposes.
As there are so many ways to engage with Mass Culture and everyone is busy, some of the most of the more popular ideas have been consolidated into a Network Connector package. It’s a good first step in figuring out how to best connect. Reach out to Kathryn and request a copy – firstname.lastname@example.org