Mass Culture is an arts support organization that strives to harness the power of research to learn and generate new insights, enabling the arts community to be strategic, focused and adaptive.

Mapping Canadian Arts Service Organizations as Cultural Research Conduits


This MC Research Project is in partnership with Toronto Metropolitan University and is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Report: a research snapshot

What does the arts service organization sector look like in Canada today?

Arts-service organizations (ASOs) are member-directed representative professional bodies, meant to serve the interests of their members as well as their artistic discipline and the public. With this dual role, of both serving artists and the public, ASOs play an important bridging or intermediary role in supporting the arts in Canada. The Boston Foundation calls ASOs “the unacknowledged gems of the cultural ecosystem” (2005). ASOs exist at the national, provincial, local, and grassroots levels in Canada, but we lack a clear and current picture of the size, scope, role, and features of ASOs. Given their sometimes lack of visibility within a larger creative industries framework, how do ASOs generate their own research to document their existence and role, and to develop strategies to best serve their members? In this research project, we set out to literally put ASOs on the map, by creating a digital map to document their existence, so that the ASO sector can begin to better know itself and take stock of its strengths and capacities. We hope this mapping research can act as a useful tool to develop a framework for collective stewardship and resource sharing and help identify where further collaboration could happen across organizations, to continue on in this vital work of supporting the arts and artists in Canada. We hope that future iterations of our digital map continue to expand and include the vast and vibrant array of ASOs currently active in Canada.

Arts Service Organization Map

This map provides a research snapshot of the arts-service organization sector in Canada today. The map includes information on the below features of the sector.

Interested in being included in future versions of this map?

Email [email protected] with your information.

Behind the ASO Project

An introductory video

Watch this introductory video to better understand the purpose of this project.

Cultural Mapping as Method

An overview of the research process after the project’s completion.

Article from Toronto Metropolitan University featuring Dr. Campbell

Related Mass Culture projects

Other research on the subject

This initiative is made possible through the support of the following

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Toronto Metropolitan University.