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Most cultural organizations in Ontario are established as not-for-profit corporations, governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, and managed by an Executive Director.  The Board is responsible for strategic planning, financial sustainability, reputation management, risk management, legal compliance, and oversees and evaluates the Executive Director.  Often the Board members will also be donors to the organization, and passionate volunteers who help with community engagement, special events and advocacy.

The Executive Director often has expertise as an arts administrator or curator. The Executive Director is responsible for drafting and implementing the annual business plan, managing the Board approved annual budget, meeting program goals, supervising staff, stewarding relationships with funders, media, donors and sponsors, and ensuring policies and procedures are followed.

The majority of our community’s cultural organizations in the City of Kawartha Lakes do not have core funding to run their day-to-day operations. They cannot meet the required criteria to be eligible for operating grants (see Issue #1).  Many do not have full-time (or part-time) paid Executive Directors, or any permanent staff to run programming, write grants, work with donors and sponsors, manage finances or execute marketing plans.   These organizations are left to source project grants – project grants do not cover operating expenses, and hired contract staff is only in place during the term of the grant.  

With limited or no staff, organizations often rely on volunteers who do not have the knowledge of accepted provincial and national standards for museums/galleries/cultural organizations and lack the formal training in cultural sector practices and not-for-profit management to run successful non-profit organizations and registered charities.

This lack of understanding of proper Board governance may result in organizations:

  • Incurring institutional financial, reputational and legal risk by not understanding their fiduciary responsibilities
  • Not providing proper stewardship of their assets i.e. Collections
  • Having no standards, procedures or policies, resulting in the diminishing of the organization’s programs and creation of unintended liabilities
  • Not providing the proper stewardship of their donors, sponsors and volunteers

Risk management is a reality of managing a not-for-profit organization. Understanding and working to reduce risk needs to be a priority for any not-for-profit wishing to run an effective operation that protects its reputation and assets.

Failure to manage risks can result in damage to the not-for-profit including harm to people or assets, financial costs to the not-for-profit, and most importantly, loss of reputation and goodwill.  Without goodwill, an organization will find it very difficult to raise funds, attract volunteers, members, donors and sponsors, and implement programming.

…just as having no volunteers to contribute to the charity is a bad strategy in most cases, so is the over reliance on volunteers by some organizations. Not everything can or should be done by volunteers. If something is important to the charity, unless you have the volunteers with the correct skill set, time, equipment, and infrastructure to accomplish the task, you are better off paying for the services. In the long run, the charity will be better off. How many times have I seen a volunteer ‘bookkeeper' who is working really hard to keep the books and records of the charity straight? Yet they really have little idea of what they are doing and they are potentially imperilling the registered charity status of the organization. The same applies to the lawyer or accountant on the board who knows little about legal or accounting issues specific to nonprofits and charities. A charity's reliance on them may only lead to misery in the long run.

Volunteers and risk management for Canadian nonprofits and charities. Charity Village. September 8, 2008. Written by: Mark Blumberg. Mark Blumberg, Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto, Ontario.

In general, wages in the culture sector are lower than the national average. About half of those working in the culture sector are self-employed, and many hold multiple jobs.

Hill Strategies Research Inc., “A Statistical Profile of Artists and Cultural Workers in Canada” (Hill Strategies, October 2014): 5.


Over 280,000 Ontarians volunteer in arts and culture organizations.

In 2013, about 900,000 Canadians (3% of the population) volunteered the equivalent of 56,000 full-time jobs in the cultural sector. Using the average hourly wage in Canadian arts, entertainment, and recreation industries in 2013 ($17.58), this volunteer contribution can be valued at nearly $1.9 billion.

The 107 million hours contributed to arts and culture organizations represent an average of 120 hours per volunteer.

Volunteers and Donors in Arts and Culture Organizations in Canada in 2013, Statistical Insights on the Arts Vol. 13 No. 3, by Hill Strategies Research Inc., February 2016.



In many conversations with cultural organizations, we have learned there is a great need for training in Board governance, strategic planning, business plan development, financial literacy, human resource management, risk management, marketing and philanthropy. Kawartha Lakes Arts Council (KLAC) and Kawartha Lakes Heritage Network (KLHN) Board members and other community leaders are willing to work with the City to create and deliver these essential training programs.



In 2016 Council endorsed the hiring of a permanent full time City staff position of an Arts, Culture & Heritage Development Officer within the Economic Development Department of Development Services. Due to the growth in cultural tourism activities and the heavy workload of the Arts, Culture & Heritage Development Officer in the past two years, City staff is proposing Council consider a second position, specific to Heritage, for inclusion in the 2019 budget.


On September 18, 2018 Kawartha Lakes Arts Council will present to Council recommendations for the following:

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2019 Budget  - expand on the current funding model that is in place for Maryboro Lodge/Fenelon Museum to include similar funding for comparable cultural organizations using eligibility criteria developed by the Steering Committee noted below 

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Municipal Leadership - to increase the number of City cultural staff positions in Economic Development from one position to the following:

  • Senior Leader, Culture
  • Heritage Planner – currently proposed by Development Services
  • Cultural Organizations & Arts & Heritage Trail Programmer
  • Administrative Assistant – to be shared with Kawartha Lakes Arts Council and Kawartha Lakes Heritage Network
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Steering Committee -  to meet immediate needs in the cultural sector (including develop funding eligibility criteria for core funding) and develop the first Municipal Cultural Plan:

  • Senior Leader, Culture
    Heritage Planner
  • The Cultural Organizations & Arts & Heritage Trail Programmer
  • City Councillors (number to be determined) 
  • Members from the Arts Council/Heritage Network’s Cultural Centre Committee
  • Shared administrative assistant
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New Cultural Centre - in the next six months, the City, the Cultural Centre Committee (a joint committee of Kawartha Lakes Arts Council and Kawartha Lakes Heritage Network), and other potential partners create the RFP and fund the feasibility study study for a future Community Cultural Centre/Community Complex



The Kawartha Lakes Arts Council (KLAC) and the Kawartha Lakes Heritage Network (KLHN) represent committed volunteers working together with the City to promote economic development through cultural tourism.   As not-for-profit organizations, these two organizations are in a position to apply for grants that the City is not eligible for, and engage with private donors and sponsor who invest in arts, culture and heritage.

  1. In 2017 KLAC and KLHN wrote a successful grant application to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for $64,000 to pay for a Program Coordinator (and travel and workshop expenses) for the City’s new Arts & Heritage Trail.  This was a SEED grant under OTF, and ends October 2018.    We strongly recommend a full-time position be added in Economic Development supporting the Arts & Heritage Trail and looking at other initiatives which will increase economic benefits for our community.
  2. In 2017, KLAC received a gift from a private donor of $50,000 to support a feasibility study for a proposed Cultural Centre/Community Hub.  With matched funding by the City a full community consultation, site appraisals, governance and sustainable business models can be explored (see Issue #3).
  3. KLAC and KLHN were incorporated in 2014, and for four years have been run by volunteer boards with no staff resources.  Board members’ expertise would be leveraged with an administrative assistant shared part-time with Economic Development.  For the Request For Proposal (RFP) process for the feasibility study for a new Cultural Centre/Community Hub, administrative support will be essential to assist with the scope of the community consultation required.

The objective and actions of the City’s Strategic Plan is to foster a more culturally vibrant community promoting culture, arts and heritage by strengthening cultural and heritage assets.

The City’s recently published progress report for 2017-2018 states: "We’re rolling out an Economic Development Strategy that builds on our strengths in the tourism, culture, agriculture and specialized manufacturing sectors. The foundation of the plan is fostering a positive business culture that attracts new entrepreneurs and develops a workforce to meet the needs of our changing economy."

In 2014, Ontario’s cultural sector contributed 301,933 jobs as well as $27.7 billion in direct economic impact, or 4.1% of the province’s GDP. This also represents 45% of the total cultural GDP in Canada.

Desjardins, E. (2016). Provincial and Territorial Culture Indicators, 2010 to 2014. Statistics Canada.