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. Generous funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation provided support for the Network Summit, enabling youth and individuals from across Ontario to attend.

The goal for the Network Summit was to co-create a network for performing arts in rural communities that would bring together communities (regionally and provincially), be accessible, require low management and act as a vital resource; a place where key challenges, innovations and opportunities that impact the performing arts in rural and remote communities could be identified.

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 that would be covered.

The summit program was designed to start with participants’ personal perspectives in order to determine what value a network would have to them. SPARC, via its collected surveys, had already heard calls for support and information sharing, but wanted to get to the heart of these broader terms. From there, participants ventured into identifying services they needed, services that already existed, and what they themselves could offer. Participants examined four potential organizational structures for networks: incorporated non-profit, collaborative, virtual, and functioning as a program of an existing organization. They also discussed how network users would connect – online and/or in-person – and what it would take for the network to become user-driven and 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:

The clear consensus from the network summit participants was that creating a network the size and scope of Ontario was a significant undertaking and would be pursued first, with the intention that it could become the model for a national SPARC network that would connect provincial/regional network hubs in the future. There was also consensus that SPARC, for the time being, would remain as a collaborative 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. They can be found here.

Three working groups were formed to reflect the three main objectives that summit participants identified as informing SPARC’s core activities: Symposium, Outreach and Communications. More information about these working groups can be found here.

Interested in learning more? Peruse the PRESUMMIT PACKAGE  to get a sense of the topics, scope and intent of the summit.

You can also read co-facilitator Inga Petri’s blog post about the Network Summit here