Cultural Pluralism in the Arts

Photo taken from the CPA-sponsored event, Been a Long Time Comin'

Cultural Pluralism in the Arts (CPA), formerly known as Arts in a Pluralist Society, is an initiative within Arts Management and the Department of Arts, Culture and Media at the University of Toronto Scarborough. CPA’s goal is to advance knowledge and skills in the area of the arts and cultural pluralism. CPA and Arts Management at UTSC share an interest in developing artistic and cultural pluralism within UTSC and the wider Toronto community. Through course work and collaboration with the city's many diverse communities and artists, CPA contributes to educating future arts managers, and supports the development of critical thinking about issues related to equity in the sector. Through university courses, a bursary program for student internships, and public programming, CPA functions as a unique partnership between the University and the broader community. Since 1995, the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) has sponsored the CPA initiative, which is funded in part through the proceeds of a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage. This initiative has several components:


The CPA Lectureship offers two courses (VPAB07 - Equity & Diversity in Arts Organizations and VPAD07 – Agency & Pluralism in Social & Cultural Transformation) in Arts Management. The first course, Equity & Diversity in Arts Organizations, is mandatory for students in UTSC’s Arts Management programs. Both courses are available as electives to the broad spectrum of students at UTSC.


The bursary program is for selected 3rd and 4th year Arts Management students who are engaged in work placements within an arts organization that is involved in developing and/or implementing initiatives that support pluralism in the arts. Throughout their undergraduate studies, Arts Management students enquire into programming, advocacy, volunteer management, research, marketing, development, policy, and day-to-day administration. The bursary program provides them with an opportunity to utilize their skills and knowledge in arts management while also working effectively on issues of equity and cultural pluralism in Canadian arts organizations. For more information on the bursary program, please contact Sherri Helwig at

Essay Prize

The Department of Arts, Culture and Media (ACM) invites current UTSC students to submit an essay on the theme of Representations of Pluralism in Canadian Arts and Culture to our Cultural Pluralism in the Arts (CPA) Essay Prize Competition. A committee will judge submissions anonymously, based on their descriptive and analytical competence (content), the quality of writing (style), the focus on the arts/pluralism, and the research evident in supporting the paper. The CPA Essay Prize is aimed at engaging students and encouraging their academic interest in practical and/or scholarly approaches to pluralism in the arts. The winning paper will receive a prize of $300.00. At the discretion of the committee, the best papers may be posted on the departmental website.

Community Outreach and Collaboration

CPA seeks partnerships with diverse organizations and agencies on and off the UTSC campus, and supports performances, symposia, workshops and other similar events which investigate and promote cultural pluralism in the arts, both for a student and a public audience.

Past Events

Please visit for information on upcoming CPA-sponsored events. Below is a listing of some of the past events sponsored by CPA:

October 21, 2013: AND HERE WE DWELL ...
Through a series of spoken word and forum theatre performances, the Spoken Forum Collective - which includes residents of the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park area - led the audience on an exploration of issues relating to housing, poverty, and discrimination.

Canadian-born Kiyoshi Nagata and Japanese-born Aki Takahashi, of the taiko group Nagata Shachu, will give a lecture-demonstration on Japanese taiko drumming and folk music in the North American diaspora. The discussion will focus on their own experiences of becoming musicians, the development of taiko groups both in the US and Canada, and general issues of authenticity and the reception of their music among North American audiences of Japanese and non-Japanese descent.

Featuring KasheDance and the wind in the leaves collective, a series of interdisciplinary performances and a reflective artist talk intricately unearth the personal and historical journeys of the African diaspora and explore the influences of the African diasporic aesthetic upon contemporary cultural performance in Canada.

Featuring a screening of video projects by renowned multi-media artist Midi Onodera, this artist talk will provide insight into the discourse developing around mixed media and cultural pluralism and its place in Canadian arts.  In response to Midi’s talk, Sinara Rozo-Perdomo, Executive Director of alucine Latino Film Festival, and Jason Baerg, Chair of the Aboriginal Curatorial Committee, will introduce their own  interpretations and show some of the work they have been involved in bringing to Canadian audiences.

November 30, 2012: MAKING A LIVING; MAKING ART
In partnership with Scarborough Arts and the Neighbourhood Arts Network, Cultural Pluralism in the Arts presented a free day of creativity and networking with guest speakers from the Scarborough Arts community. During the morning session, the audience could witness a life storytelling and poetry recording session with original pieces written by local Scarborough writiers. In the afternoon session, three thriving Scarborough artists engaged in a panel discussion on how to sustain a career in the arts and maintain the "art-work-life" balance.

November 2, 2011: SOUTH ASIANS IN THE ARTS
An informative panel discussion with four award winning South Asian artists, writers, performers, educators, administrators and practitioners who provided an insider’s view on the connections between community, arts practice and administration, and alliances with Aboriginal and other racialized artists and communities in Toronto and beyond. Featured panelists:

  • Lata Pada, Artistic Director of SAMPRADAYA Dance Creations
  • Seema Jethalal, Managing Director of Regent Park Arts & Cultural Centre
  • Noora Sagarwala, Managing Director of Manifesto Community Projects
  • Nishua Ahuja, Artist and Advocate

Cultural Pluralism in Performing Arts Movement Ontario (CPPAMO) & Cultural Pluralism in the Arts presented a panel discussion, "Values and Benefits,” about the intrinsic values of the arts, and what arts managers need to know in order to build audiences from diverse communities. Featured panelists:

  • Jini Stolk, founding Executive Director of Creative Trust
  • Skye Louis, Coordinator of the Neighbourhood Arts Network
  • Kevin A. Ormsby, Artistic Director of KasheDance
  • Menaka Thakkar, Menaka Thakkar Dance Company
  • Anahita Azrahimi, CPPAMO
  • Cheryl Ewing, Community Cultural Impresarios/the Ontario Presenters Network
  • Cian Knights, Scarborough Arts

October 25, 2010: TIFF & THE CITY
A Question & Answer (Q&A) event with Toronto International Film Festival Co-Director Cameron Bailey, who spoke on his role in guiding the overall vision of the Festival programming, as well as creating and maintaining relationships with the international film industry.

A 1-day conference with several panel discussions organized and presented by Arts & Events Programming and the Cultural Pluralism in the Arts program to celebrate the launch of the book, Anti-Racism in Education: Missing in Action.


For more information about the CPA initiative, please contact Sherri Helwig, Program Director for Arts Management at UTSC at