CNAL 2015 National Cenference

CNAL 2015 Ben HeppnerLast week I attended the Canadian Network for Arts & Learning (CNAL) National Conference, which took place on March 25, 2015 at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. It was a day packed with very interesting panel discussions, presentations and networking opportunities.
What really impressed me was the amount of like-minded people who dedicate their lives to the arts and to enriching young generations through the arts. My three takeaways from the event are following:

1. I was overwhelmed by the number of creative people on the artistic as well as on the organizational and educational side of the arts. Canada is flourishing artistically – only if everyone got a chance to look more closely “under the cover”. Unfortunately, this artistic abundance is by far not that perceptible in the Canadian media. As one presenter mentioned, Canadians highly value arts, but mostly enjoy consuming arts at home, so if media don’t follow, a large number of great artistic endeavors stay unrecognized by general public.

2. Money is an issue for practically everyone – whether large or small organization, for- or non-profit. Interestingly, fast growing importance in the arts funding play private donors and organization.

3. Canadian governments (federal or provincial) don’t keep up with the private sector, which is a sad fact. Years back, when I was studying and researching development of popular music, I was impressed by the role the Canadian government played in the growth and support of the local popular music in the sixtieth and seventies of the last century. The outcomes of those efforts are clearly palpable up until now, when Canada has a number of global stars on the stage and on the media. Similarly, if the government ceases its support now, results of that could show even decades later, what would be an unfortunate situation, given the much larger market south of the border.

(Photo – Ben Heppner as an MC of the CNAL National Conference)

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”

Victor Hugo