Arts Service Organizations (ASOs) support the arts through advocacy, professional development, resources, financial support and/or networking. Many ASOs are member-based networks that allow like-minded organizations to come together and support each other, much like professional associations. Many ASOs also provide services like an annual conference or symposium, a regular newsletter, and/or online resources.
Things ASOs do:
- Funding & Financial Support
- Research & Advocacy
- Informative resources
- Professional Development & Networking
- Showcases & Conferences
Some ASOs work with one aspect of the industry, such artists or presenters, while others support a specific discipline, such as theatre or folk music. ASOs may have a local, provincial, or national scope. There are ASOs that support visual arts, literature & publishing, and video/digital arts, but here we have focused on the live performing arts community.
Each ASO has a unique contribution the performing arts landscape – we all lend support in different ways. For the most part, we try to stay connected so we don’t reinvent the wheel. You may even find us partnering on projects that support multiple performing arts communities!
Here are a few of the major ASOs working in Ontario & Nationwide:
Ontario Presents (OP)
Network that supports multidisciplinary presenters in Ontario.
Ontario Presents is a province-wide network of organizations that participate in touring and presenting the performing arts. Most of our members are presenters, both professional and volunteer (though we do have artists and industry members). OP provides programs and services that support specific aspects of the performing arts. Examples include building an audience for contemporary dance, or increasing performances for children in Northern Ontario. As a network, OP provides ways for presenters to communicate and work together; the most significant example of this is the block booking program.
Industry Event: Ontario Contact
Showcase conference for artists, presenters, agents and others.
Ontario Contact is an annual conference run by Ontario Presents. It is a showcase event, which means presenters can come and see a variety of artists that they may want to book. Artists from all over Canada and the world apply to perform at the conference, and a jury makes the selection. OP members and non-members attend the conference to network, find programming, participate in professional development, and socialize. Ontario Contact showcases all performing arts disciplines (dance, music, theatre, etc.) but music is usually the most prevalent.
Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA)
Network that supports arts presenting across Canada.
The Canadian Arts Presenting Association/l’Association canadienne des organismes artistiques (CAPACOA) is a nationwide network of presenting organizations. CAPACOA produces an annual conference, conducts research and reports on the industry, and work with other organizations to deliver programs in each region.Network that supports presenters across thecountry.
Industry Event: CAPACOA Conference
A national showcase event offering opportunities for networking, peer meetings, informative sessions, and performing arts showcases. As a longer (5 day) and national event, the CAPACOA conference tends to have more of a focus on peer meetings, sector trends, and professional development, as opposed to regional events like Ontario Contact that focus primarily (though not exclusively) on showcases.
Network that supports all kinds of ‘arts people’ in rural/remote communities.
SPARC is a network of presenters, producers, creators, community animators and arts organizations based in rural & remote communities across Ontario. SPARC works to bring like-minded individuals and groups together so they can share ideas and resources. They host a biennial symposium, and connect members year-round through online platforms. They also run Community Consultations, bringing together those involved in the performing arts in the same local area to facilitate collaboration.
Industry Event: SPARC Symposium
A biennial gathering that brings together SPARC members as well as other creators, presenters, producers, community animators and funders involved in the performing arts in rural and remote communities across Ontario.
Network that supports professional Indigenous artists and arts organizations.
The Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance is a member-driven organisation of professional Indigenous performing artists and arts organizations from across Turtle Island (North America). IPAA provides leadership, support, representation, advocacy, and practical assistance for the national development of Indigenous performing arts. They host biennial Intertribal Gathering and additional events throughout the year that support Indigenous artists and presenters. Non-Indigenous organizations and individuals can become an Ally (non-voting) member of IPAA.
Network that supports Franco-Ontarian multidisciplinary presenters.
Réseau Ontario is a province-wide presenter network for Ontario’s Francophone performing arts community. They facilitate touring of Francophone performing arts to multidisciplinary presenters and schools, and support the sustainability of the Franco-Ontarian arts community. Réseau produces Contact ontarois, an annual showcase conferences, and they run programs that support specific aspects of the sector, such as theatre and dance.
Industry Event: Contact ontarois
Contact Ontarois is the Ontario’s annual French-language networking and showcase event. French-language broadcasters, agents, producers and artists from across the country come together for a series of workshops, meetings and showcases.
A national ASO that strengthens the cultural workforce.
The CHRC brings together representatives from all parts of the cultural sector to address the training and career development needs of employers and cultural workers (including artists, technical staff, managers, etc.). They facilitate projects to address specific issues like succession, training, compensation, HR management/planning, career planning, and competency development. The CHRC also provides services like a job board and professional development, as well as administering the Department of Canadian Heritage’s program Young Canada Works at Building Careers in Heritage.
Folk Music Ontario (FMO)
A provincial network of folk-genre presenters in Ontario.
FMO started as a network of six folk festivals in Ontario, and has now grown to a large network of folk-genre presenters from across the province. They hold an annual conference that includes professional development workshops for both artists and presenters, as well as showcase performances and community outreach activities. FMO produces a semi-annual magazine called Folk Prints, which covers contemporary and multi-cultural folk music issues. Their website and blog have many resources for individuals and organizations interested in folk music.Network for folk-genre presenters, artists, agents and more.
Conference: Folk Music Ontario Conference
The Folk Music Ontario conference is the key event for Ontario’s folk, roots, and traditional music community. Delegates hear speakers, learn about new products and services for performers and presenters, engage in roundtable discussions, hold private meetings, participate in workshops and seminars, and experience showcases.
An international non-profit focused on supporting the folk music community.
Folk Alliance International (FAI) was founded in 1989 to connect folk music leaders aiming to sustain the community and genre. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Folk Alliance International engaged a global network of over 3000 members. The non-profits’s mission is to serve, strengthen, and engage the global folk music community through preservation, presentation, and promotion.
Industry Event: Folk Alliance International Conference
The world’s largest gathering of the folk music industry and community (crossing a diverse array of genres), this annual February conference draws 2,800 artists and industry (agents, managers, publishers, labels, festival/venue presenters, promoters, media) dedicated to folk music.
A provincial ASO supporting Ontario’s music industry.
MusicOntario is a non-profit, membership-based division of the Canadian Independent Music Association, also known as CIMA. Its mission is to provide professional development, education, information & support to the music industry of Ontario.
The association delivers programs, services, events and initiatives that assist in nurturing, developing, promoting, and sustaining growth within the provincial music sector. MusicOntario supports and develops both the emerging and established independent industry in all markets province-wide.
A provincial network focused on advocy and services for the non-profit sector.
ONN is an independent network for the 58,000 nonprofits in Ontario, focused on policy, advocacy, and services to strengthen Ontario’s nonprofit sector as a key pillar of the province’s society and economy. They focus on connection, professional development and, especially, advocacy for the non-profit sector.
Industry Event: Nonprofit Driven
A professional development conference for non-profit sector leaders and supporters. The event draws attendees from a range of non-profit fields, and includes both plenary talks and breakout sessions to address key issues in the sector.
ASO focused on supporting arts facilities in Ontario.
ArtsBuild Ontario is the only organization in Ontario dedicated to realizing long-term solutions to building, managing and financing the sustainable arts facilities needed in Ontario communities.
Together with industry, nonprofit and government partners, ArtsBuild delivers innovative tools, services and resources to help arts organizations across Ontario construct and operate the facilities they need.
ArtsBuild offers a range of services, including webinars, their online resource centre, and key programs such as the Creative Spaces Mentoring Network, SpaceFinder (which connects artists and arts venues), and Asset Planner for the Arts (a tool that tracks your facility’s condition and replacement costs for key building components).