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Submission deadline: Monday, September 23, 2019


The Visual Arts Alliance is seeking a consultant to work with its members to develop a concerted strategic plan to focus its advocacy goals and messaging, design a coordinated work plan and calendar, identify funding sources and prepare relevant funding applications.


Members of the Visual Arts Alliance are seeking proposals from independent strategists and consultants, to produce a strategic plan to focus and fund the Alliance’s advocacy work over the next five years, along with a coordinated work plan to encourage the participation of its members.


The Visual Arts Alliance / L’Alliance pour les arts visuels is a consortium of national visual art, media art, and craft arts service organizations comprised of artists, curators, art museums, artist-run centres and art dealers. Its mission is to ensure the sustainability of Canadian artists, art professionals and their institutions.

Since its creation in November 2007, the group has acted as a think-tank, sharing resources, exchanging information, and encouraging development to benefit the visual arts sector at large.

The Alliance is not a formal organization or institution, but operates as a stakeholder network of associations representing the interests of the visual arts milieu. Its core group of member organizations is eager to work on a collective purpose and vision to advance the visual arts in Canada.

Research goals established by members of the Alliance in 2008 have been partially completed, but knowledge gaps and blind spots identified by Guy Bellavance in his Synthesis and Critical Analysis (2011) persist. A recent literature review on the Canadian art market (Blais, 2019) identifies the same persistent challenges in our understanding of the sector, in an increasingly diverse and globalized field.


Alliance members acknowledge the recent doubling of the Canada Council for the Arts will relieve the strain put on artists and their organizations by years of austerity budgets. Alliance members also commend efforts to review the Copyright Act by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (Shifting Paradigms, 2019) and by the Standing Committee on Industry (Statutory Review of the Copyright Act, 2019). A brief submitted by Alliance members in 2018 as part of DCH’s Arts policy branch grouped program evaluation argued that the current suite of arts programs and policies are geared heavily towards the performing arts, leaving visual arts organizations seeking similar support with fewer options. Such programs and policies that do foreground the visual arts sector (the National Museum Policy for example) are in dire need of updating and reinvestment. There is currently no federal program to support art dealers as they represent Canadian artists in brick and mortar galleries, online and in local and international art fairs and markets, nor is there a publishing program specific to the visual arts.

The visual arts are not a homogeneous sector. Visual arts exist in many forms, take place in a variety of locations, and cater to different audiences, though our interests often overlap. Designing a strategic and work plan, set of common messages, and shared research agenda which encompasses and synthesizes the sometimes diverging needs of our Alliance’s broad membership will represent a challenge to the execution of this project. The successful bidder will propose an approach that recognizes these complexities and overcomes this potential obstacle by focusing on areas of common concern.


To enhance its effectiveness, the Alliance urgently requires a joint advocacy strategy, positioning statement and key messages. The purpose of this exercise is to establish well-defined advocacy objectives, design a coordinated strategy, and recommend methods for collecting evidence needed to support the plan’s objectives. The strategy will promote a collegial approach that reflects the nature and composition of the Alliance and ensures buy-in from all its members.


The successful candidate will:

  • Facilitate a planning process with Visual Arts Alliance members to establish priorities;
  • Audit the Alliance’s current capacity and potential, looking to its network to single out and target potential champions andinfluencers in the public and private sector;
  • Produce a multi-faceted strategy with coordinated action plans for members;
  • Produce advocacy messaging that allows the Alliance to respond to a variety of evolving priorities;
  • Identify sources of funding; and
  • Prepare and submit funding applications.


  1. Audit report of Alliance’s current capacity and potential;
  2. Strategy and member-specific action plan;
  3. Positioning messages;
  4. Funding applications.


3 September 2019 Dissemination of Request for Proposals (RFP)
23 September 2019 Deadline to receive proposals from bidders
30 September 2019 Analysis of proposals and selection of successful bidder
2 November 2019 Member Audit & planning begins
11 December 2019 Audit report & and draft strategy delivered at in-person meeting
17 January 2020 Final audit report and strategic & action plan
End of February 2020 Messaging delivery to members
Feb-April 2020 Preparation and submission of funding applications


The total cost of the project includes honoraria and travel costs to Ottawa to meet with Alliance members is not to exceed $10,500, taxes included.


The successful bidder will:

  • Demonstrate experience and expertise in strategic planning, including a capacity to facilitate coalition building;
  • Demonstrate a strong understanding of the Canadian cultural sector, both anglophone and francophone;
  • Describe the approach proposed to fulfil the mandate;
  • Propose a detailed work process and schedule;
  • Include in annex the curriculum vitae of the applicant and their team (as applicable) including a list of past projects;
  • Provide a detailed project budget with a step-by-step breakdown of costs detailing professional fees and other expenses;
  • Indicate any expectations for the client, as applicable.


For additional information about this Request for Proposals, or to submit your proposal, write to

Download the RFP here.

Deadline for submissions is Friday, September 23, 2019.

CSARN 2018 : Entering the “mystical age of ageism”

Addressing challenges that face senior artists

Earl Miller recently attended the CSARN 2018 Annual Conference in Toronto on behlf of the VAAAAV. Here’s his report.

CSARN (Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network) is a non-profit organization established to help professional artists “keep active and creative as they age”. It held its 2018 annual conference Maintaining Creativity 3: Relevance on April 19th at Toronto’s Metro Reference Library. The 2018 conference was divided into three sections: a panel titled Relevance, a talk on the effect of the arts on memory by the neurologist Luis Fornazzari, and a panel on “housing options.”

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First of its kind “research map” charts the strengths and weaknesses in our understanding of the visual arts sector in Canada.

Ottawa, June 15, 2011 – The Visual Arts Alliance is pleased to announce the release of a new research study: “The Visual Arts in Canada: A Synthesis and Critical Analysis of Recent Research”.

Commissioned by the Visual Arts Alliance, the study was conducted by Professor Guy Bellavance of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), Centre – Urbanisation Culture Société, Montréal. It documents over 550 Canadian studies and a further 315 studies done abroad, identifying the biggest shortcomings in the available research on the visual arts , and proposing strategies to fill those gaps.

Among the study’s important findings are that the value to Canadian culture of this sector is underestimated economically because of a lack of study of the arts education systems, that research is thin in many areas because universities give precedence to the study of art history over study of visual arts policies, that much more needs to be done on the provincial level to address regional specificity, and that of five sub-sectors studied, the most poorly understood is the art market – how art reaches its audiences.

The study was made possible by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. The report and an executive summary are available in English and French, on the VAA website:

The Visual Arts Alliance is an umbrella organization of national visual, media, and craft arts service organizations that represent artists, art museums, artist-run centres, arts professionals and art dealers in Canada that came together during the Visual Arts Summit held in November, 2007.

More about the study and a link to the final report on our Resources page.

Press Release: Re-visioning the Visual Arts, September 16-18, 2011, Kingston (Ontario)

Ottawa, August 18, 2011- The Visual Arts Alliance (VAA) will hold a colloquium “Revisioning the Visual Arts” September 16-18th, 2011 in Kingston, Ontario, bringing together 60 invited participants from varied disciplines and sectors to investigate the long term future of the visual arts in Canada. The colloquium, which commemorates the spirit of the Conference of Canadian Artists held in Kingston in 1941, will examine the visual arts today in terms of “public engagement” and explore how the visual arts can be better integrated into both the Canadian economy and society as a whole.

The colloquium will begin with a keynote presentation on “The Evolving Role of the Arts in Canada” by Jeff Melanson, Executive Director and Co-CEO, Canada’s National Ballet School and soon to be President and CEO of The Banff Centre. Panels and discussions will take place throughout the event covering topics such as “What Drives the Visual Arts?” and “Repositioning the Visual Arts: How do we move forward”. The outcome of the colloquium will be to establish a set of common objectives and priorities and a working process to achieve them. A joint statement of conclusions and resolutions will
be disseminated to the public at large.

“Since the Visual Arts Summit of 2007, the VAA has been actively examining the state of the visual arts in Canada. We feel confident that the provocative mix of participants attending Revisioning the Visual Arts will produce visionary strategies for the sector’s future,” says Pat Sullivan, Co-Chair, VAA.

2011 will mark the 70th Anniversary of the Conference of Canadian Artists held in Kingston, Ontario under the auspices of the National Gallery and Queen’s University, and supported by the Carnegie Corporation. The Conference had far-ranging impact leading to the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences popularly known as the Massey Commission and to the eventual founding of the Canada Council for the Arts.

In the seventy years since then, great strides have been made yet certain issues persist. Issues such as the social status and wellbeing of artists, the role of public institutions, the place of art in the education system, how the public understands and engages with art, the impact of new technology and new media and the place of Canadian artists on the international stage.

The Visual Arts Alliance, through this invitational colloquium, will revisit the primary themes of Kingston 1941 and bring into the present its remarkable vision of a more robust, rewarding and sustainable place for artists and the visual arts in Canadian society.

More about the Colloquium and link to report on our Resources page