Wrap Up of the 2023-24 Creative Spaces Mentoring Network


As the 2023-24 Creative Spaces Mentoring Network comes to a close, we are happy to reflect on this past year and all of the accomplishments that the 72 mentees and mentors were able to achieve. For the first time, the program took place across two different provinces, and we have been thrilled with the level of participation and engagement from everyone involved. 

The Wrap-Up Webinars in both Ontario and Calgary provided a wonderful opportunity for each cohort to come together one final time and share their experiences and achievements. We enjoyed hearing the mentees share their projects and collaborations, highlighting not just their program goals but also the personal growth they experienced throughout the mentorship journey. 

Some participants achieved their initial goals, while others found that their goals shifted as the year progressed. Regardless of their individual paths, it was clear that the mentoring relationships forged through the Creative Spaces Mentoring Network were powerful and impactful. This program goes beyond just skill development; it’s about fostering trust, navigating the arts and culture sector, overcoming challenges, and building a supportive network. Now in its 9th iteration, the Creative Spaces Mentoring Network continues to connect Ontario’s creative community that will continue to grow, even after the program concludes. We also look forward to returning to Alberta for another year in Fall 2024! 

During the Ontario Wrap-Up Webinar, the cohort participated in an Arts and Culture Sector Trivia Game, testing their knowledge of the arts sector. If you’re curious about your own knowledge, you can take the quiz too! Participants also shared their concluding thoughts about the program, and we wrapped up with some tips on how to close off the mentorships.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Wrap-Up Webinar featured a thought-provoking talk by guest speaker Cory Nespor, co-founder of  Nvrlnd Arts Foundation. From a program survey, we learned that mentees were particularly interested in focusing on business/strategic planning and building community relationships. Cory was able to provide valuable insights on the evolving landscape of creative spaces and how to best support artists in Calgary. 

As we look back on the past year, we are amazed by the growth and success stories that emerged from the Creative Spaces Mentoring Network. The relationships formed between mentors and mentees extended beyond professional collaborations, with many evolving into new friendships. We are excited to welcome the 2024-25 cohort and see what new creative projects are emerging in the sector!


CSMN Ontario 2024-25 Applications Now Open

We are excited to announce our ninth year of ABO’s Creative Space Mentoring Network (CSMN)!

This program is provided to leaders in Ontario’s arts and cultural sectors who are responsible for some or all aspects of their creative spaces. If you are an arts professional and plan on acquiring creative space, and/or manage capital-related issues you are encouraged to apply.

Through CSMN, ArtsBuild Ontario (ABO) matches cultural leaders with experienced Mentors from the arts, heritage, or other relevant sectors.  Once mentoring teams are confirmed, they will meet at the Kick-Off Webinar and afterwards begin meeting for up to three hours monthly over 12 months. Over the next year of the program Mentor/Mentee pairs will focus on developing skills and knowledge related to the Mentee’s priority areas.

ABO will train and support the mentoring teams so that they get the most out of the program by developing and providing:

  • A Kick-Off Webinar, Mid-Point Webinar, and a Wrap-Up Webinar
  • Resources & learning opportunities
  • Program support

If you are looking for a one-to-one learning opportunity with an experienced mentor providing knowledge and expertise in the scope of your project, apply to be a Mentee today!

The deadline to apply is Friday, December 15th, 2023 at 11:59 pm EST.

Apply here.

Register for the Final New Moon Dialogue: Culturally Based Training and Indigenous Spaces


There are many systematic barriers for Indigenous artists and organizations to overcome towards creating and producing self-determined work. Funding opportunities for Indigenous training organizations have suffered especially, even before the Covid pandemic. Mainstream training funding often excludes Indigenous organizations, and Indigenous artists are forced to work within colonial structures and evaluation frameworks.

In order to disrupt this cycle, thinking about different models and systems to support self-determined work can empower Indigenous artists to move forward. The speakers in this session will share the ways in which they are creating new models and enhancing current western approaches to building a new future that offers culturally based training for Indigenous artists. By focusing on how to support training and professional development, Indigenous artists and organizations can be uplifted through self-determination and agency.

The Indigenous Creative Spaces Project brings together a network of communities to support the development of Indigenous sovereign creative spaces across Ontario. Guided by an Indigenous Advisory Circle and supported by ArtsBuild Ontario, the project aims to build a framework of knowledge and experience within a cultural and historic context, and determine the needs and recommendations for future infrastructure and sustainable development across the arts ecology of Ontario. As part of this project, a series of online dialogues will take place within Indigenous communities throughout Ontario.

The Indigenous Creative Spaces Project respects the First Nations Principles of OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession). The intended audience for these dialogues are Indigenous artists, arts organizations, and community members participating in the project. If you are interested in listening to this dialogue, please remember that this is a sovereign digital space for communities to connect and learn from the knowledge shared in this forum and within this project.

Note: These dialogues may explore culturally sensitive material. The information shared today may not be extracted for any reasons other than personal knowledge. The audience is encouraged to witness and reflect, space will be open for interactive dialogue and questions during the session.

Register here.

Green Infrastructure Initiatives for Arts Organizations

How do cultural projects align with green infrastructure initiatives and how can arts organizations prepare for new avenues of federal funding? Join us on Tuesday, April 11th from 1 pm-2:30 pm for a conversation with Tara Mazurk and Elizabeth Seip, from PAA Advisory | Conseils and explore the latest federal funding investment in green buildings.

In this session, we’ll look at programs such as the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Program, the Deep Retrofit Accelerator Initiative, and learn how these supports can integrate with existing programs such as the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.

Tara and Elizabeth lead the federal cultural infrastructure work at PAA Advisory | Conseils, helping arts & culture organizations navigate public investment for venues, retrofits, new builds and upgrades, especially in light of public policy priorities in inclusive communities and the green transition.

Tara Mazurk, Director, Arts & Culture: Tara brings 10 years of experience in arts management and cultural policy, with a particular focus on the not-for-profit and charitable sector, network stewardship and coalition-building. Her expertise in policy writing, strategic monitoring, and stakeholder engagement helps clients easily understand and navigate relevant federal policies and programs. Outside of her work at PAA, Tara helped co-found Mass Culture, a Canadian cultural research network. She also regularly guest lectures at universities and colleges to support the next generation of professionals. Tara holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Arts Management and Studio Art from the University of Toronto.

Elizabeth Seip, Advisor, Arts & Culture: Elizabeth is an Advisor with the Arts and Culture Group. She has experience in policy development, and emerging issues in Canada’s arts and culture sector. Additionally, Elizabeth provides logistical, strategic, and research support to her team and clients. Prior to joining PAA, Elizabeth worked as a Special Assistant to a Member of Parliament focusing on policy development and community outreach. She has previous experience with government relations, specifically with the arts and culture sector. Elizabeth has volunteered for numerous non-profit organizations that support women’s rights and gender equality in Ottawa and is involved with an organization that supports Indigenous communities in British Columbia. She has campaign experience, as she volunteered for her local Member of Parliament’s federal campaign. Elizabeth received her Bachelor of Arts with an Honours double major in political science and history at the University of Ottawa, specializing in mid 20th century American history and Canadian politics. She was accepted into the international exchange program at the University of Galway in Ireland where she focused on Irish economic history. Elizabeth holds a Master of Political Management from Carleton University.

Register Now! 

Kick Off in Calgary! The Creative Spaces Mentoring Network Calgary Begins

On February 14th, ABO launched our Kick Off Workshop in Calgary, Alberta. We partnered with  cSpace King Edward and Calgary Arts Development to bring our core program, the Creative Spaces Mentoring Network out West!

cSpace King Edward Interior

We started the day with a welcome by cSpace at their recently renovated Studio Theatre. cSpace provides shared spaces for artists and the creative sector within Calgary. They offer tenant spaces, venue rentals, innovative programming,and local art exhibitions. During the opening, we also heard from Calgary Arts Development, and listened to a brief overview of some relevant initiatives and grants for the Calgary arts community.

Next, we met our cohort! CSMN Calgary is made up of 19 wonderful mentees from a variety of different arts disciplines. This year, our mentees are:

Atelier Artista One Big JAM
Big Art Riverstation Retreat
Bonny Boom Inc Sankofa Arts & Music Foundation
Buckingjam Palace Snapshot Studios
Canopy Studios Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
Casa Mexico SpanicArts
City of Camrose Springboard Performance
Hispanic Arts Society The Alcove
Legacy House Tribe Artists Society
Turtle Island Multicultural Centre

The projects range from the visionary phase of embarking on a creative space project to working on space specific challenges. We are so excited to hear how these projects progress with their mentor matches. 

Our main panel for the day began after our mentee introductions. Moderated by Joni Carroll, Arts Spaces Consultant with Calgary Arts Development we heard from Kathi Sundstrum, Executive Director of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Alex Sarian, CEO of Arts Commons and Sabrina Mueller, Production and Operations Manager at Pumphouse Theatre. Each of these community leaders have embarked on capital projects for their facilities. From large, medium and small scale projects, each panelist spoke to their successes, challenges, and words of advice for our program mentees. With the overarching theme of recovery, recalibration and renewal, the panelists spoke to the need for collaboration within the arts sector. In order to sustain the survival of the arts, there needs to be an underlying trust within partnerships and the community.

Panel Discussion moderated by Joni Carroll with Alex Sarian, Kathi Sundstrom, and Sabrina Mueller

After lunch, we heard an overview of cSPACE and Calgary Arts Development’s Meanwhile Lease pilot project. This project connects real estate professionals with interim tenants active in the creative economy. This pilot project mobilizes the use of under-utilized real estate inventory to the benefit of the real estate and arts sectors.

CSMN afternoon training

Finally we ended the day with some program specific training and goal setting. We are very excited to have launched this program in Calgary and we can’t wait to see how the projects and collaborations unfold.