Skip to main content

Canada Council for the Arts director and chief executive officer Simon Brault.

Ivanoh Demers/The Canadian Press

In 2014, the newly appointed head of the Canada Council for the Arts spoke of the need for the art world to innovate and reach out to younger audiences. "Traditional companies," Simon Brault told The Globe and Mail then, "have to engage a new generation or they will die."

Brault's vision of a modernized, plugged-in arts sector became clearer Thursday with the announcement of an $88.5-million Arts in a Digital World Fund, 2017-2021. The news of the fund coincides with a major arts sector conference being held Thursday and Friday in Montreal.

"It's clear that the new generation, the generation of digital natives, has expectations of how they relate to any experience or any content or any moment," Brault told The Globe this week. "The arts sector needs to master and take advantage of the digital transformation, as opposed to pretend that we are victims of it."

Story continues below advertisement

Brault, a former director of the National Theatre School and the author of a 2009 book about the role of the arts in a democracy (translated into English as No Culture, No Future), will be one of the keynote speakers at the Arts in a Digital World Summit, taking place at Montreal's Arsenal. Nearly 300 leaders from across Canada and abroad will take part in an event focused on helping the country's arts organizations scale up their capacities to innovate and to connect with citizens in an increasingly digital landscape.

"The level of digital intelligence is not what it should be," said Brault, who sees himself as a high-profile advocate for the arts, not simply the administrator of a grant-giving body. "The fund is part of a catch-up movement for the vast majority of the arts sector, which is at risk of being less and less visible and less supported by citizens, especially the youth."

Details on specific projects were not revealed by the Council. Set to launch in the fall of this year, the fund will support short-term small-scale projects for less than $10,000, and large-scale initiatives with funding up to $500,000.

Broadly speaking, the fund will encourage initiatives that foster digital literacy though training programs, employ digital approaches to increase public access to the arts and support the technological transformation of the arts sector as a whole.

Asked for examples of the type of projects to be funded, Brault cited Theatre in Paris's introduction of "augmented reality glasses" that display surtitles in different languages on the glasses instead of above the stage.

"We want projects which will help the entire sector or a region," Brault said. The impact should be collective. Facing the digital challenge divided in silos, and in competition, won't work."

As for its own digital accessibility, Canada Council will stream select sessions of its Arts in a Digital World Summit on its Facebook page and on the event's website.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies