Jon posing with Mayor Jim Watson after receiving the Victor Tolgesy Arts Award

#CouncilSpotlight – Jon Bartlett

Jennifer Clark

The Ottawa Arts Council supports artists and arts organizations through leadership, guidance and the provision of opportunities to advance our local creative potential.

Our series #CouncilSpotlight presents stories and experiences of Arts Council members and art award recipients.

Jon received the Victor Tolgesy Arts Award in 2018.

Jon BartlettWhere are you from?

I grew up in Fredericton, NB but have been in Ottawa for 19 years now.

How did you get involved in the Ottawa arts community?

er time to the dark (ahem, management) side. I do miss it. A bunch of us old dads have a jam space with everything set up, but I haven't really used it much to date...hopefully in 2019!

What impact has your involvement with the arts/the Ottawa arts community had on your life?

I think we have a rich community of artists here, and a very small network of people that actually work in the music industry. It's been a pleasure to work with a diverse array of talented people, and I've always gravitated to that "underdog" aspect of all things arts in Ottawa, because it's not really a city that people think of at the top of their list when they think of music, but that has gradually changed over the time I've been here.

Is there a specific moment/situation in your art career that you remember fondly?

I think the moments we have during MEGAPHONO I really treasure...seeing music industry people from out of town descend on Ottawa and marvel at the vast pool of talent that is here and in the region. Lots of proud moments during the festival, watching people get excited about our artists.

Do you have any advice for artists in the Ottawa community or artists in general?

I guess some of the things I said in my speech at the ceremony: Always listen (you never know were inspiration or ideas will come from); expect rejection; surround yourself with good people; and remember that arts is hard, but your work has great value to your community.

What are you currently working on?

We just signed our fifth management artist, Kacy & Clayton, so ramping up with them, and trying to sort out whether or not we think we can survive another year of doing MEGAPHONO. Ha. 

What was it like to receive an award from the Ottawa Arts Council? How do you think it will impact your career?

It was really lovely, and unexpected. I guess it makes me feel a bit old too. But it is amazing to see some recognition for things happening in the local music sector, and I hope that we leverage it to grow more interest from private sector partners. There is a correlation between a healthy music scene and a city being an attractive place to live and work, and people are slowly coming around to this idea. I hope nods like this one play some kind of role in strengthening this connection.


The MEGAPHONO Music Conference and Festival takes place February 7-9, 2019 in Ottawa; information and tickets are available at