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Arts Network Ottawa and the Ottawa Arts Council are merging!

Uniting our Arts Community to create a New Arts Service Organization in Ottawa. 

The planning process to merge Arts Network Ottawa and Ottawa Arts Council is intentionally centered on people’s needs and capacities. By doing so, we hope to build community trust and confidence through meaningful conversations, while fostering a participatory mindset that activates our community in co-creating the new organization.

Our goal is to establish a new arts organization that prioritizes and optimizes its services with the valuable input from our community –the end user of our services. As this work continues, we will continue to provide our current programs and services.

This comprehensive approach places an emphasis on public engagement, positioning the merger between our two organizations as a means of continually connecting people.

The methodology of Human-centered design involves creating products, services, or solutions by putting the needs, preferences, and experiences of end-users at the forefront of the design process to ensure practical and user-friendly outcomes.

Our methodology prioritizes the voices of the community and aligns with the identified priorities and capacities of our organizations. This strategy minimizes risk by co-designing with end users, articulating our findings incrementally in testable stages, and actively seeking feedback to validate our progress.

We have completed our community conversations and design thinking workshops. As we add more stops to our roadmap it will be updated for transparency and so that you can follow along with us! 

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We invite your participation through submitting questions-sharing experiences. 


With input from you, the valued artist community, we want to build a new Ottawa arts organization that best aligns with your needs. This process is an opportunity for you to engage and help shape the planning for the future. 


If you are not already, please subscribe to our newsletters and follow us on social media to stay up to date on presentations and workshops that will be held in 2024: 

Follow along with this process!
  • Why are you doing your community consultations this way? “Nothing for us without us”
    Most importantly: co-creating a new model can only be done WITH YOU. We want to share this opportunity to listen, and learn from thought leaders and inspirational creatives - to help your own work in the arts sector We desire collaboration and connection with our community that we serve We want to platform ideas and learnings back out into the community and into our new organizational model and operations for the future
  • How can I participate and get involved?
    Engaging with the Ottawa arts community is a key part of this process. Here are a few ways for you to get involved: Follow us on social media: Arts Network Ottawa Ottawa Arts Council Read our e-newsletter updates Attend our workshops Attend our AGM Contact our organizations: Arts Network Ottawa: Cassandra Olsthoorn [] Ottawa Arts Council: Nicole Milne []
  • Will the sessions be recorded?
    Most sessions have been recorded. Find out more here: Ottawa Arts Council - Arts Network Ottawa -
  • What if I did not attend the workshops but want to be involved?
    Please reach out to: Cassandra Olsthoorn [] or Nicole Milne: []
  • More information about your funders
    Ottawa Arts Council and Arts Network Ottawa gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Community Foundation, CAPACOA (Presenters Capacity Building Program), Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Canada’s Community Services Recovery Fund through the Community Foundations of Canada. Canada Council for the Arts, Strategic Innovation Fund: The Canada Council for the Arts contributes to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene and supports its presence across Canada and around the world. The Council is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to “foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts.” The Council’s grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments support Canadian artists, authors, and arts groups and organizations. This support allows them to pursue artistic expression, create works of art, and promote and disseminate the arts and literature. Through its arts funding, communications, research, and promotion activities, the Council fosters ever-growing engagement of Canadians and international audiences in the arts. The Council’s Public Lending Right (PLR) program makes annual payments to creators whose works are held in Canadian public libraries. The Council’s Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts through exhibition and outreach activities. The Council is responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO to contribute to a future of peace, reconciliation, equity, and sustainable development. CAPACOA, Presenters Capacity Building Program: CAPACOA represents 150 professional for-profit and not-for-profit presenters, festivals, presenter networks, artistic companies, agents, managers and other stakeholders working across the presenting and touring sector in Canada. The Ottawa Community Foundation: The Ottawa Community Foundation is a public, charitable organization created by and for the people of Ottawa. The Foundation works with donors and the community at large as a trusted partner to fulfill impact philanthropy and bring about positive, systemic, and sustainable change. The Government of Canada’s Community Services Recovery Fund through the Community Foundations of Canada: The Community Services Recovery Fund is a $400 million investment from the Government of Canada to support community service organizations, including charities, non-profits and Indigenous governing bodies, as they adapt and modernize their organizations. The Community Services Recovery Fund is being delivered through three National Funders - Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada, and United Way Centraide Canada.
  • What’s the next step?
    We hosted a series of Design-Thinking workshops with our board, staff and you, our community, In June we will present the plans for the future of the new organization at our Annual General Meetings (AGM).

Community Conversations: Designing a New Arts Service Organization through Collective Vision.

A Series of Presentations and Workshops to shape a new model for a new arts service organization.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Cassandra Olsthoorn.

Cassandra Olsthoorn (she/her)
Executive Director

As announced in October, Arts Network Ottawa and the Ottawa Arts Council are merging to create a new, unified organization advancing the arts in Ottawa. Together, we will bring a stronger voice to our arts community. The work has not stopped!


With residents, members, and the cultural community, we are building a new Ottawa arts organization that best aligns with the needs of today’s arts community. This process will be a major opportunity to engage our communities in planning for the future. This June both Arts Network Ottawa and the Ottawa Arts Council will have our respective Annual General Meetings where we will present our plan for the future.

The Ottawa Arts Council and Arts Network Ottawa conducted a community online survey in the Fall 2023 to kick off the community engagement process and to assess the perspectives and expectations surrounding the merger of the two organizations. You can view the survey results HERE.


Between now and June, we will continue to consult the community and work with our respective boards and staff to create our plans for a united arts organization for Ottawa. 

It’s time to dream, plan, and build for the arts – and we’ll do it together.

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