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Qualitative Impact Framework

December 16, 2019

Understanding the Value of the Arts

To better understand the impact of its investments, the Canada Council for the Arts commissioned a qualitative impact framework. This comprehensive framework will enable the Council to better articulate the many ways in which Canadians’ lives are enhanced by the arts.


Demonstrating Results

The Qualitative Impact Framework will help the Canada Council for the Arts communicate the value of its public investment, beyond the amount of money spent or the number of grants given. More than this, it will also help the broader arts community explore the impact it has on their communities and society at large.

The resulting insights and data will help members of the arts community to plan, program, and make more compelling cases for investment in and support of the arts. It will also help the wider public understand and appreciate the impacts of the arts in their lives.

Qualitative Impact Framework

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The Canada Council for the Arts commissioned WolfBrown team - Alan Brown, John Carnwath and James Doeser, to create a custom-made framework to suit the complexity of the Canadian arts ecology.

The framework recognizes different types of impacts by distinguishing them between upstream and downstream impacts in five areas.

Upstream - impacts most directly related to the Council’s funding

Downstream - impacts that result from the work of funded artists and organizations and may be attributed (but not limited) to the Council's funding

Impact on Grantees


The Canada Council’s contributions to the artistic practice of professional artists that fuel creativity inside and outside of the nonprofit arts sector.


The Canada Council’s contributions to the favorable conditions and capabilities that enable arts organizations to sustain their creative aspirations and deepen civic impact.

Impact on Artistic Work and Artistic Practices

The Canada Council’s support of artistic work/creative output that holds cultural meaning for the Canadian public in all its breadth and diversity.

Impact on National and International Audiences, Communities and Society

The experiences of national and international audiences and visitors at programs offered by the organizations and projects funded by the Canada Council.

The long-term creative and social benefits to communities and society that stem from sustained investment in the arts.

Implementing the Framework

Moving forward, we will launch a number of research projects under this framework including one on the effects of the Canada Council’s funding on first-time grant recipients and an exploration of how organizations across Canada can articulate the broader impacts they have on their communities. We will also do partnerships and collaborations to carry out research on the social impacts of the arts.

As well, in an effort to advance work on decolonization, the Council is embarking on the creation of a framework to examine the value of the public investment in Indigenous contexts, led by an Indigenous advisory group with Indigenous researchers.

Understanding the varied impacts of the arts will require collaboration with practitioners, funders and researchers. Over the coming years, we plan to explore how our investments in research, along with those of others, might intersect with other sectors and studies.

For more information please send us an email at research@canadacouncil.ca.

Tagged As Impact Measurement