On October 2, the Canadian Arts Coalition organized a highly successful Arts Day on Parliament Hill, where arts advocates from across the country came together to meet with Members of Parliament and to promote the arts. OC’s Executive Director Katherine Carleton was one of more than 100 advocates who took part.
The participants in this event were put into teams, and each team met with MPs, Senators, staff and key officials over the course of the day. Katherine, along with colleagues (Cathryn Gregor, Canada’s National Ballet School; and Steven Smits, Volcano Theatre/Peggy Baker Dance Company) had the opportunity to meet with four MPs or staff: Wayne Easter (Malpeque, PEI), Larry Miller (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, ON), Ali Ehsassi (Willowdale, ON) and Anthony Rota (Nipissing Timiskaming, ON)
The Canadian Arts Coalition prepared participants for their meetings through a training webinar, as well as a series of downloadable materials in English and in French, including a meeting script and documents to leave behind, customizable for each MP.
“MPs are keen to know about the impact that federal investment in the arts has in their ridings,” Katherine says. “By and large, they are very aware of the artists and arts organizations in their ridings, but the connection between federal policy and those wonderful individuals and organizations is not always so clear.”
Arts Day on the Hill is an opportunity for beginners and experienced arts advocates alike. “It’s for anyone who might benefit from thoughtful federal arts policy and funding,” Katherine says. The Coalition removes a lot of the stress surrounding these meetings by setting them up for you, and providing sound research, statistics, and infographics. They also pair up people of differing levels of advocacy experience so that you can also learn from the team who go into the meeting with you.
While there is a lot of value in the wide scope of the arts messaging that the Coalition prepared, there is also much value in advocacy work that is specifically related to orchestras. “I tended to speak to the positions that specifically addressed orchestras’ needs, while my colleagues addressed “asks” that more directly affected their sectors,” Katherine explains. “Still, the feedback that we received during meetings – and the discussions we started – will make it easier to return with more orchestra-specific messages.”
We asked Katherine how the orchestral community might participate in this advocacy work on its own behalf.
“Orchestras Canada’s advocacy committee is planning an Orchestras in the Ridings Week in January that we’d like all our members to take part in. We’re preparing orchestra-specific messages that we’d like you to discuss with your MP, and we’ll provide a training session, downloadable templates and leave-behind materials to help get you prepare. The Advocacy Committee will be testing these materials with their own MPs this November, and committee members and the OC team are there to support you along the way.”
Last year, OC ran its own Orchestras Day in Ottawa, and our intrepid teams met with over 20 MPs and Senators. We’d like to triple that number this year, and with your help, we’ll make it happen!