MakingItWork update

Friday, August 3, 2018

On Friday, July 13, the Ottawa Arts Council hosted a roundtable for WorkInCulture’s new research project MakingItWork.

Individuals representing Ottawa’s broad arts, culture, heritage, and library sectors participated in a lively discussion about what it’s like to be a worker/employer in these industries.  Topics such as defining regional nuances that impact employment, barriers to career advancement, and networking and professional growth opened up the floor for participants to share personal challenges and identify strategies to support workers in these fields.

Nordicity facilitated the session, and through group dialogue three main points stood out:

  1. Disruption is required when it comes to addressing entrenched labour market issues, such as low pay, high burnout, and a lack of diversity.
  2. While there are many programs that fund interns and entry-level employment for youth, students and “under 30s”, there is a lack of programs that support career advancement or mid-career transitions. There is a need for more varied and inclusive labour market supports.
  3. There is a desire for more opportunities to collaborate, resource-share, and network across the sector; greater market transparency (e.g. benchmarks, best practices, diversity); and data that positions culture as valuable to social, economic and community health.


Many of the individuals around the table represented associations and membership-based organizations, and spoke about the needs of their members. Finding opportunities to learn from and engage with others in similar positions and build a network of expertise was something the group felt would assist workers with career growth. The development of the cultural sector’s next generation of leaders was key, and building these networks – both through formal and informal formats – would be a great asset.

MakingItWork has a provincial focus, and the project team has been visiting communities across Ontario holding similar roundtables to understand the unique needs of each region. The project team was impressed with the level of knowledge and understanding of our community representatives, and was intrigued to hear how our local challenges compared to other cities.

Launched in March 2018, final results of the research will be released in Spring 2020. Following the publication of the MakingItWork outcomes, the Ottawa Arts Council will work with WorkInCulture and our community to identify how we can address any recommendations.

WorkInCulture will be releasing a survey later this summer, so if you are interested in participating please email or watch for the link through the Ottawa Arts Council.

This project is supported through the generosity of the Government of Ontario.

About MakingItWork

MakingItWork is a major research project that’s designed to help us (and you) better understand the opportunities and challenges of employment in the creative sector. Whether it’s through a survey or through participation in our community roundtables, we want to hear how you’re making it work, as well as find out what types of obstacles, challenges and opportunities exist for you as a creator, a cultural sector worker and/or employer. From librarians to visual artists to freelance arts administrators, not-for-profits and companies, we want you to tell us your story.

The goal of MakingItWork is to really understand what the broader cultural sector needs to be successful both now and going forward. By telling your story about making a living in the arts, culture and heritage sector, you can help define what future programs, supports and resources look like.

About WorkInCulture

WorkInCulture’s mission is to support the people who work in the cultural sector through life-long career development and entrepreneurial and business skills training. Beyond our (very popular) Job Board, we also offer a wide range of skills development programming, training and resources in a number of formats.