The Culture of Community - National Performing Arts Conference

Arts and Belonging

Vital Signs: Arts & Belonging is a national report published by Community Foundations of Canada and Canadian Arts Presenting Association in April 2017.

Vital Signs: Arts and Belonging

Vital Signs: Arts & Belonging looks closely at how arts and culture, in all its forms, make our communities better places to live by helping people to better understand their identity and connect through shared arts experiences. The publication draws on community knowledge, a range of government and local data sources, and deeper analysis of responses from a 2015 cross-country survey conducted with the Angus Reid Institute that asked Canadians what it means to belong and be involved community activity.

The report’s focus on the arts as one way to build belonging aims to address the reality that one-third of Canadians report a weak sense of belonging to their community due in part to the persistence of discrimination and social isolation. Among the report’s positive findings:

  • 77% of Canadians agree or strongly agree that arts experiences help people feel part of their local community. This is especially true for newcomers and people in minority-language communities.

  • Canadians who regularly attend live music have a stronger sense of belonging to their city or town.

  • Canadians who rate arts, culture and leisure in their community as “excellent” are nearly three times more likely to report a “very strong” sense of belonging.

Vital Signs: Arts & Belonging also highlights some areas for improvement. While almost all Canadians say that performing arts facilities are important to well-being and economic development, more than half of people surveyed suggest that arts facilities in their community could use an upgrade, both in quantity and quality. These sentiments are especially pronounced in Indigenous, rural, remote and minority-language communities.

The report also outlines a number of recommendations to help people of all backgrounds feel more connected to the arts and build bridges between communities, such as offering community engaged arts programs; reflecting diversity on the stage, screen and airwaves; and opening up arts facilities to the community.

About Vital Signs

Vital Signs is a national program led by community foundations and coordinated by Community Foundations of Canada that leverages local knowledge to measure the vitality of our communities and support action towards improving our collective quality of life.


The Canadian Arts Presenting Association/l’Association canadienne des organismes artistiques (CAPACOA) serves the performing arts touring and presenting community through its commitment to integrate the performing arts into the lives of all Canadians. CAPACOA fosters skills development, knowledge sharing, policy advancement, collaboration and innovation within the performing arts community and society at large.

About Community Foundations of Canada

Community Foundations of Canada is the national network for Canada’s 191 community foundations. Together we are a philanthropic movement working across sectors to help Canadians invest in building strong and vibrant communities.


This research project was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.


Canada Council for the Arts Ontario Arts Council