Over the last six years, the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC) has led a comprehensive research project, called ASC!, on community-engaged art for social change in Canada. Funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, this initiative has involved six universities, a wide range of community-based partner organizations, funders, NGOs, and 35 researchers across the country. The study has included national gatherings and conferences, the creation and analysis of a wide range of field studies, arts-infused dialogues, the creation of an online evaluation tool and new video resources, as well as surveys and interviews.
Our research strongly identifies that, outside of those communities directly impacted by and involved in ASC work, there is a general lack of recognition and understanding of the sector in Canada, especially at the federal level, despite our global reputation as pioneers in the field. Municipal, provincial and foundation funders are recognizing its impact and increasing their support for the sector. Unfortunately, this innovative and creative change work through the arts is overlooked and thus underutilized in the creation and implementation of federal policies and programs.
The policy recommendations in this brief are a direct result of this wide-ranging investigation of the sector in Canada, its activities and outcomes, partnerships, scholarship, aspirations and challenges.