Founder’s Corner

Reimagining Partnerships in the Arts: Thoughts from Canada Council’s Arts in a Digital World Summit

BeMused Network

We are living in a critical time. Entire systems and sectors are imploding because the assumptions they were built on no longer exist. ~ Simon Brault, Director and CEO of Canada Council

Back in March, we were honoured to be invited as a contributor to Canada Council’s Arts in a Digital World summit in Montreal. I met many people with whom I had only communicated by email or phone, and many more whom I was happy to meet.

It was inspiring to hear BeMused Network’s founding values echoed by the keynote speakers, and to engage in two intense days of the kind of conversations we’ve been having for the last few years. I came away full of optimism for the future of the arts Canada. Read on…

New Audiences Are Not Unicorns


When done right, self-service is a great option to offer customers. When done to merely cut costs, or when done with a poor understanding of the user, it’s mostly annoying. – Seth Godin

Patrons new to the arts are often surprised to learn that some of the highest-calibre artistic offerings in cities like Toronto are primarily presented by volunteer-run organizations (like the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto), or just a handful of full-time staff (like Soundstreams Canada or Alliance Française).

They accomplish the Herculean job of creating rich artistic experiences and eye-catching marketing materials with limited resources. These are the hidden miracles that arts professionals and volunteers work everyday, despite the thankless task. The personal fulfillment they take from the job is one of the reasons they stick around, despite the fraught realities confronting the arts.

It is this dedication that makes the challenge of attracting new audiences such a frustrating one. What more can be done to show the value of the arts? How much more can we give to the creation of unique and memorable artistic experiences? Read on…

What kind of Digital Future do the Performing Arts Deserve?


“…digital networks will continue to be increasingly central to daily life and anticipates a time when they are regarded as a mundane, but vital part of the social infrastructure.” ~ Andrew Clement and Leslie Shade, “Access Rainbow” (PDF)

Infrastructures are essential yet invisible to us, even as they play a critical role in our everyday lives. Just imagine if our power grid goes out, roads collapse, or water ceases to flow in our homes. Unimaginable disruptions.

We are in an era of constructing digital infrastructures. From high profile projects like electronic health records, which requires the coordination of policy makers, creating of new jobs, and the partnership of various health organizations, to the less visible but no less impressive network of digital applications and social platforms. Read on…

Building Digital Infrastructures for the Arts in Canada


“If we wish a different world, it is necessary to design humane and liberating technologies that create the world as we wish it to be.” — Bonnie Nardi

What does it mean to build a digital infrastructure for the arts? What does it take?

A digital infrastructure is a network of independent systems that play nice with each other. I imagine a digital infrastructure that will exclusively serve the arts community, provide end-to-end services for their most pressing needs, and ensure its sustainability by evolving with the times we live in. Read on…

Performing Arts as a Living Collection

BLOG_header_arts_living_collection_2014(Image credit: “The Seven Lively Arts” mural by R. York Wilson at the Sony Centre in Toronto)

The future library will not be a bricks and mortar institution, but distributed and decentralized.

Imagine a library full of not books, but performing artists. As you walk down the aisle, you can experience any sort of performance you can think of – and a great number of ones you couldn’t even imagine.

If such a library existed, I would spend all my spare time there, happily getting lost, exploring every art form. Read on…

No One Defends a Starving Artist

BLOG_header_opinion_defend_artists_2014a(Photo of 1934 Merrill Piano by Walter Arnold Photography)

If artists regularly self-qualify themselves as ‘starving’ in such a casual and off-handed way, what kind of respect can we expect to gain?

On my way home, there is a man that chants monotonously to people coming in and out of the subway station. He doesn’t look well, there is resignation in his voice, and passers-by are consistently ignoring him.


The scene serves as meditation as I get on the train, a chance to reflect on a recent conversation with a performing artist. He had quietly lamented how colleagues too often described themselves as “starving artists”, even if only as a joke or an ice-breaker.

It was only a passing comment that he made, but I was reminded of the many instances where I defended the value of art to those less than sympathetic to artists, only to feel stonewalled by their one-dimensional impression.

How did this impression become so ingrained in the public consciousness?

What are we doing, or not doing, to change it? Read on…

Help us get $30,000 towards building BeMused

Aside from the usual work of maintaining this blog, we have been focusing our efforts on technical development of our online service and fundraising. We’ve come a long way on a shoestring, but it’s time to ramp up and hire a dedicated technical team to build our beta service!

One funding opportunity we are currently pursuing involves a round of public voting, and we need your vote.

IdeaBOOST is a business accelerator run by the Canadian Film Centre in partnership with Google and Corus Entertainment. The top 10 projects with the most votes get shortlisted for $15,000 towards hiring technical services and gaining access to industry networks.

You can help by casting your vote by April 25, 2013, or by retweeting on twitter and sharing on facebook to spread the word about this project.

We’re counting on you!

2013, here we come!

The first four months of BeMused’s existence were a whirlwind of activities. When you are building something from scratch, it is very exciting to see your ideas take shape and then see them get closer to becoming a reality.

One thing that I have developed a deeper appreciation for is that the first and last stretches of any creative journey, while equally exciting in their own way, are very different beasts. Read on…

Some Kind of Foreword


“If we wish a different world, it is necessary to design humane and liberating technologies that create the world as we wish it to be.” — Bonnie Nardi

The objective of BeMused Network is simple. We want to address the challenges that performing arts organizations are confronted with in the face of rapid technological change, and find new ways of engaging people with the live aspect of performing arts. Sure, you can watch a concert on YouTube, and as cliché as it sounds, it really isn’t the same thing as watching it live.

Behind this vision is a group of creative and hardworking individuals who are either advocates of the performing arts or are performing artists themselves. We see the performing arts as going through a renaissance, where the future is uncertain but full of great possibilities.

We know we’re not alone, so if you feel as strongly about the performing arts as we do, please let us know by signing up. In return, you’ll benefit from our ticketing, crowdfunding and networking services designed and priced specifically for the arts.

Click here to join BeMused Network Today. It’s free!

Calling Supporters of Independent Arts

Are you a lover of independent performances, such as music, dance, theatre, cabarets, anything that requires live bodies performing amazing and creative feats on stage? At BeMused, we are uniting these creative pioneers together so that we can make more noise together, and share with folks like you the incredibly wonderful productions that happen right under your nose. If you want to know about the local independent productions happening in the city for less than the cost of a movie ticket these days, sign up and be the first to know about our launch later this year.

Click here to sign up.

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