The Newcomer Experience in Toronto’s Arts Sector

Our latest report, “Navigating a Career in the Arts for Newcomers,” highlights the needs and expectations of new Canadian and immigrant artists and arts professionals.

This infographic series is a summary of what we heard from newcomers or foreign-trained artists, creatives and cultural workers; employment services organizations; and arts sector organizations. It also lists four recommendations to achieve better outcomes for new Canadian and immigrant arts professionals.

Read the full report.

Navigating a Career in the Arts for Newcomers, a report from WorkInCulture and supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Between October 2019 and February 2021, WorkInCulture conducted a study to learn about the experience of newcomers and foreign-trained creatives trying to build careers in Tkaronto/Toronto. We held 11 one-on-one interviews with newcomer artists, arts organizations, and service organizations; 5 group roundtables discussions with 92 participants; and 4 advisory committee meetings with project partners and key collaborators.
Newcomer Experiences: Challenges and Barriers. #1: Inadequate Information - Resources are outdated or unavailable. #2: Labels - Being labelled as an immigrant, refugee, new Canadian, etc. #3: Canadian Arts Experience - A "requirement" that hinders job search process.
Newcomer Experiences: Challenges and Barriers. #4: Limited Access - To space, capital, networks or communities. #5: Survival Jobs - Reliance on volunteerism, short contracts and low wages. #6: Pressure on Home Life, Health and Wellbeing.
Settlement and Employment Services Limitations: Factors that limit meeting the needs of artists and arts professionals. #1: Lack of central and current information about the arts sector. #2: Misconception about opportunities in the arts and cultural sector. #3: Limited funding for partnership with the arts sector.
Arts Sector Limitations: Barriers to supporting newcomers effectively. #1: Limited knowledge of immigrant and refugee communities and their needs. #2: Short-term and project-based funding. #3: Mismatch between needs and capacity.
Recommendations: Suggestions for policy, programming and partnership innovations for better outcomes for newcomer artists and arts professionals. #1: Enhanced professional development for new Canadian and immigrant artists and arts professionals. #2: Enhanced sector outreach and communication with new Canadian and immigrant artists and arts professionals. #3: Greater cross-sector collaboration and partnership. #4: A physical and/or virtual resource hub.
Organizations working to improve the newcomer experience: Advisory committee with insight on newcomer communities. Airsa is dedicated to providing newcomers with professional development in the arts sector operating on traditional Indigenous territories in Canada. Immigrant Writers Association provides programs, activities, and services that empower and support immigrant writers in their journeys.
Paralia supports and encourages the self-sustainability of newcomer artists by providing skills and resources to establish an artistic presence in Canada. The Institute of Creative Exchange (ICE) is dedicated to motivating and nuturing artistic creative expression with a focus on creative processes. Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) addresses the persistent problem of immigrant underemployment in Toronto.
Navigating a Career in the Arts for Newcomers: Read the report in the Research section of our site, and share your feedback in the comment section.

A great thanks to Airsa, Immigrant Writers Association, Institute for Creative Exchange (ICE), Paralia Newcomer Arts Network, and Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) for providing advice and key insights on newcomer communities. 

Navigating a Career in the Arts for Newcomers is possible due to the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Read the full report.