Welcome to Culture's Compass 2020.

Culture’s Compass: How the Industry Keeps Beating was a free two-day virtual conference exploring solutions and ideas for the arts and culture industry moving forward during this time of crisis.

Featuring a full schedule of discussions, interactive presentations, panels, seminars, and performances, the event brought together artists, arts and culture professionals, and arts and culture enthusiasts from all sectors.

Culture’s Compass 2020 used live polling and other interactive elements to collect community feedback. This information will be shared with the arts and culture community as an online resource through this website in the coming weeks.

* The conference was organized by current students of Humber College’s Arts Administration and Cultural Management, as well as User Experience Design programs. It was sponsored by Humber’s Centre for Creative Business Innovation in partnership with Work in Culture.

Live captioning was provided for all sessions by Canadian Hearing Services.

Although the conference is over, you can still watch the recorded sessions using the links below!

conference videos playlist


Keynote Talk: Slouching Towards the Digital

Dr. Anthony Schrag

The infrastructural challenges of this current ‘crisis’ have revealed the cracks in the current cultural system, and gives pause to explore both the problems and the potentialities of cultural activity: How can we use this time to ask the right sorts of questions?

This talk will exploring some of Anthony’s work in participatory art practices as well as his current research into rural arts organisations, exploring how the discourse in these domains offer a productive way to think through the current ‘crisis’.



Stephanie Tolev

Steph Tolev is a stand up and sketch comedian from Toronto, currently living in Los Angeles. Her unique brand of absurd and personal comedy has made her an audience favorite across North America both on stage and on television.


Accessibility Online

Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen, Shawn Newman, Cyn Rozeboom, Heidi Persaud, and Lindsay Fisher

Drawing on current digital and theatrical accessibility initiatives, panelists discuss the Digital Divide and what we as arts workers can do to serve our communities.

The shift online has meant people with disabilities, people with chronic illnesses, and seniors have been engaging in art that was previously made inaccessible to them.

How can this teach us to bring accessibility into our physical spaces? What will accessible art look like in the resurgence of the industry?


Adaptability: Finding Value Online

Gaëtane Verna, Dr. Julie Nagam, and Devyani Saltzman

This panel examines what cultural organisations have done to move their work online. Panelists from a range of disciplines share what they have been doing, and share their successes and failures, and hard-learned best practices, and how they are connecting to the industry.

With a focus on the artistic process of transitioning work into online spaces and creating new work under such unusual circumstances, how can we take this opportunity to learn from each other and integrate it into our development plans for the future?


Dance and Drum Performance

Bageshree Vaze and Vineet Vyas

Bageshree Vaze is an Indo-Canadian dance artist and musician. Raised in St. John’s, NL, she initially trained in Bharatha Natyam and studied Hindustani vocal music with her father, Damodar Vaze. She later trained in Kathak with Jai Kishan Maharaj in New Delhi and studied with the renowned vocalist Veena Sahasrabuddhe in Mumbai.

She is accompanied by Vineet Vyas playing the Tabla drums.


Engaging Audiences in Digital Spaces

Menon Dwarka and Charity Chan

This talk explores what audience engagement looks like online, successful digital marketing strategies, as well as online platforms that are popular with different audience demographics.

Panelists discuss the ways new technologies could be used to enhance the virtual art experience and how to empower our audiences to engage with us in new and unfamiliar ways.

How are we engaging audiences online? How will the initiatives born from this pandemic carry forward when rebuilding the industry?


Poetry Performance

Nicole Sealey and John Murillo

Born in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Apopka, Florida, Nicole Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast, forthcoming from Ecco in fall 2017, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, winner of the 2015 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize.

JOHN MURILLO is the author of the poetry collections, Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher 2010, Four Way Books 2020), finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Pen Open Book Award, and Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way 2020).


Financial Sustainability and Fundraising

Ben Dietschi, Mimi Mok, and Michelle Yeung

This panel examines the different ways cultural groups have been affected by COVID-19. Panelists discuss the loss of revenue, strategies for fundraising during this time, and how our current granting policies affect what art we get to see, and whose stories are told.

This discussion includes an inter-sectional examination of what future funding and granting models could look like in the "new normal.”

How can we learn from this and move towards a more equitable, diverse industry? Panelists envision what funding could look like in a post-pandemic world.


Activism and the Arts

Moderator: Malindi Ayienga
Speakers: charles c. smith, Syrus Marcus Ware, and Sage Petahtegoose

This session was created in direct response to the current protests against anti-Black police brutality in the US and home in Canada, and in honour of Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and the countless others who acted in the Stonewall riots, who gave so many liberation.

In listening to voices that have been oppressed across the world and at home in Canada, this panel intends to be a move beyond the performative into the productive. Artists and organisations share practical steps for long-term activism in the arts sector and the ways to practice non-optical allyship in an effort to dismantle the current system and build an anti-racist industry.

How can we support marginalized members of our community and create space for BIPOC and Queer voices in a system that was designed to silence them? Will we do the work to look within ourselves, examine how we have been complicit, and change?


Musical Performance

Baobá, in partnership with Small World Music

Baobá is a trio formed by Toronto’s top female percussionists taking traditional beats to the next level. Empowered by the natural musicality that flows from South American bodies, Anita Graciano, Y Josephine, Carla Dias and Mari Palhares, representing Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil, respectively, demonstrate an ideal mix of voice, melody, and instrumentation.