As we look back at Exploring the Digital Needs of Niagara’s Arts Community digital summit convened in Jan + Feb 2021, we’re grateful to all of our panelists, contributors and over 250 attendees for such a rich and exploratory look at the digital future and what role the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre’s can play. 

The below report provides an overview of the project, summit programming reflections, feedback and a look to the future. 


Report: Project Reflections and A Look Ahead – March 2021   (click for PDF)


In June 2020, the FirstOntario PAC applied to the Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Strategies Fund for support to convene the local arts community in a shared exploration around the changing digital landscape. 

The FirstOntario PAC engaged Senior Project Advisor, Dr. Sara Diamond, and Project Advisor, Shannon Kitchings, to assist in the planning of a local digital summit. The project team first crafted a survey for the Niagara arts community to learn of their challenges and curiosities in the digital landscape. The team then reflected on the 22 organizational responses and 58 individual artist responses to shape a virtual series of case studies, workshops and sharing opportunities that took place from Tues 26 Jan - Thurs 28 Jan + Thurs 4 Feb - Sat 6 Feb 2021.


The summit was an excellent starting point – but we just skimmed the surface. Staying connected and meeting some of needs identified in participant feedback is important to the skill and capacity building of the community. 

Feedback goes beyond ‘digital’ and speaks to the needs and interests of local artists and arts organizations that relate to greater sustainability needs, in addition to indications around the kinds of spaces that they wish to experiment and create in, with whom this creation happens, and the support mechanisms and structures necessary for this to happen. 
One of the most pressing needs of our community is a convening mechanism or body to support individual and organizational creative development, workshopping/experimenting opportunities, and professional training for emerging and established artists and arts organizations in the digital realm. The pandemic has brought to light the role of technology as it relates to creation, access and distribution. The FirstOntario PAC is committed playing a continued role in convening and connecting the artistic community. 

In the coming months the PAC will be applying to the Canada Council for the Arts’ Sector Innovation & Development Program and other programs as identified to support next steps and continued ways to come together locally to provide opportunities to network, collaborate and explore the digital landscape through professional development with a series of events and hands-on, practical workshops and creative technical residencies. 

Senior Project Advisor – Dr. Sara Diamond
Project Advisor – Shannon Kitchings
FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre 

Sara Palmieri, Programming and Marketing Manager
• Annie Wilson, Programming Supervisor
• Rob Nicholls, Technical Supervisor 
• Colleen A. Smith, Executive Director


Exploring the Digital Needs of Niagara’s Arts Community – Program   (click for PDF)

Convened virtually by the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario
Tues 26 Jan - Thurs 28 Jan + Thurs 4 Feb - Sat 6 Feb 2021

This project was generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Strategy Fund.


FIRSTONTARIO PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE   City of St. Catharines logo     Federal Government of Canada logo     CANADA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS

This project has been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Strategy Fund. The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre also acknowledges the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, the City of St. Catharines and our partnership with Brock University for their ongoing support.