Memberships, Symposiums, and Funding Support: Paying Off in Both the Long and Short Terms!

By Chandel Gambles, SPARC Northern Outreach Consultant

Registration for Translation: The SPARC Symposium is now open, and we can hear the sharp intake of breath across Ontario.

“How will we afford the registration?” “We are volunteers.” “We want to attend, but don’t have a conference budget!”

Never ye fear! With the generous assistance of the Government of Ontario, Ontario Trillium Fund, Canadian Heritage Grants, and Ticketpro SPARC is able to bring the conference cost down by 35- 45% for our members.

“How is that possible?”

Although conference attendance is valued at over $260, the support of our generous funding agencies allows us to make the cost more accessible by offering a subsidy. It doesn’t mean we are pretending the conference is worth more than it is, because the original price is indeed the cost (EEK!). Fortunately, there are tremendous supporters out there who think that this networking opportunity is so vitally important that they are emptying out their pockets to get everyone there.

“That’s great news! But what’s the catch?”

There is indeed one slight catch, and we think it is a rather good one. To access the discount prices, you must become a MEMBER.

“A Member? A MEMBER! I would never join any club that would have me as a MEMBER!”

But we most certainly think you should! We want each of you to join our FREE rural network – because the thing that SPARC and our funders know, is that more important than that discount cost is the value of a supportive network.

To develop these connections, we need to know more about our members. We need to know where you are working, and what you are doing in Ontario, so that we can help you, and pass along all of the wonderful information about you to your fellow rural artists and organizers. Making a team is no use at all if you don’t know what everyone’s skills are and what games they’re interested in playing. It would be like creating a soccer team without giving them a field, names, contact numbers, or a ball to play with. (Worst. Team. EVER!)

Oh yes, it’s true WE know who you are. We have seen some of you at symposiums and conferences, and had the absolute delight to come to your towns and help develop networking connections on a local level. But we want those connections to reach further. It’s not enough that we know you – we need you to know each other.

Once you are members, we’re going to give you the tools, services, and resources to collaborate on projects, find like-minded organizations and easily stay in touch. We want you to support each other’s initiatives, share project ideas, and promote and showcase artists in each other’s communities. We want you talking to each other, so that we’re suddenly the third wheel in your relationships.

Over the past few weeks you may have noticed some new opportunities offered to SPARC members to help your initiatives. We have revamped our member network site and moved discussion to Facebook to make conversation more accessible and tailored to your interests. We have added a resources section to the member network site and posted lists of Arts Councils and Funding Sources. And, last week, we announced our Collaborative Community Initiatives Fund (Blog posting January 19th, , 2018), which will provide funding that will help you develop unique projects and resources within your community and beyond! That program will also help create resources and project ideas that can be shared to help other members and communities.

We have seen what rural and remote communities have to offer and we’ve met the inspired brains that are backing these local initiatives. SPARC believes that the needs and interests of our members should continue to guide the development of the resources, services, and tools we create for you. We know that if you become members and are offered the tools to work together, sustain a network, and thrive, then together we will knock down barriers, rally members, and build a strong performing arts community. Attending Translation will be key to doing that.

Our symposiums offer a coming together of minds to discuss current issues and concerns, while sharing knowledge and examples about how communities and organizations have overcome those challenges. Each symposium we’ve hosted has a completely unique focus while allowing you to meet and develop working relationships with likeminded individuals. This networking event offers a place where discoveries and connections are made. That is the core purpose of any membership and a primary reason to attend this year’s symposium.

We know of all sorts of travel partners who want you to be there too! The OAC has special working in Northern Ontario and in Dance . 



To help you with these applications, we are creating three of the requested grant documents for you to access, so you can zip right through your paperwork! In the next few weeks, you’ll be able to access those documents through our website so you can send out travel grant request with plenty of time to spare! Stay tuned for that!

There are also general grants available for Media Arts, Multi and Inter-Arts, Theatre Arts, and Music that includes assistance funding for conferences and training. If you are unsure about what grants would be appropriate for you to apply for, call the OAC program coordinators, who are knowledgeable and willing to offer advice. The Canada Council for the Arts also offers Professional Development for Arts Professional grants to help artists attend conferences.


We are also incredibly thrilled to say that Ontario Northland, the main transportation network linking regions across Northern Ontario, is a proud supporter of the SPARC Symposium 2018! They are therefore offering a 20% symposium discount for attendees travelling to and from Cobalt between May 22nd – May 28th, 2018. VIA Rail is also pleased to offer a 10% discount for attendees travelling to Toronto to make the connections northward to Cobalt between May 22nd – May 29th, 2018. As other travel partnerships and discounts become available, we will also announce those updates on our member’s pages.

We have your backs! We have your pocket books supported! The only thing we don’t have yet….is you. We hope you will consider all these options, and plan to join us in Cobalt this May!


But if you KNOW you can’t come – and we hope that ain’t true! – We hope you’ll still get a free membership too! 

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