Network Summit

In November of 2014, SPARC  invited individuals involved in the performing arts in rural and remote communities to participate in a 2-day Network Summit in the Haliburton Highlands. The Summit hosted over 25 individuals from across Ontario and was held at the Bonnie View in the Haliburton Highlands.

The goal for the Network Summit was to explore, identify and co-create a network for performing arts in rural communities that has a positive impact, is accessible, requires low management and is a vital resource; to identify key challenges, innovations and opportunities that continually impact the performing arts in rural and remote communities; and to bring together communities, regional and national, to interact, share and collaborate.

Participants were provided with a pre-summit package that detailed SPARC’s history, situated within the larger performing arts history of Canada, introduced the Summit co-facilitators, the schedule and the main questions the Summit was endeavouring to answer. The package also included information on organizational structures and communication platforms to give participants an informed perspective on some of the topics of the Network Summit.

The Summit program was designed to start with participants’ personal perspectives to explore potential activities and services of the Network and to determine what value a network would have to them. SPARC, via its collected surveys, had already heard calls for support, information-sharing but wanted to get to the heart of these encompassing terms. From there, participants ventured into identifying services they needed, services that already existed, what they themselves could offer and Participants examined four potential organizational structures for networks: incorporated non-profit, collaborative, virtual and functioning as a program of an existing organization. Also discussed was how the network users connected, online and/or in-person, and what it would take for the connections to become user-driven, staff-supported. The scope of the SPARC Network was also considered as the SPARC Symposium was a national event whereas the current funding for SPARC was provincial.

Network Summit Outcomes:

There was clear consensus from the Network Summit that creating a network the size and scope of Ontario was in itself a significant undertaking. Developments in Ontario will be shared with other provinces/networks with the intention that Ontario’s network could be a model and starting point for a future national SPARC Network to connect provincial/regional network hubs across Canada. There was also consensus that SPARC, for the time being, would remain as a collaborative and focus on building the network with the understanding that it may transition into another organizational model at some point in the future.

The participants reviewed SPARC’s draft mission statement, objectives and guiding principles. Find them updated here.

Three working groups were identified to reflect the three main objectives that Summit participants identified as SPARC’s core activities. The three working groups are Symposium, Outreach/Foundation and Communications (Website). Summit participants signed up for these working groups and further members will be solicited once terms of reference for the working groups are finalized.

Generous funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation provided support for the Network Summit as well as youth and other individuals from Ontario to attend. Individuals from across Canada were also welcome to attend.

Didn’t make the SPARC Network Summit? Peruse the PRESUMMIT PACKAGE FINAL to get a sense of the topics, scope and intent.

Then join the conversation via SPARC Forum, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Also check out co-facilitator Inga Petri’s blog post about the Network Summit.