CULTIVATING CREATIVITY: Upcoming workshop to address respectful workplaces in the arts

By Fiona Campbell/Quinte Arts Council

Dealing with work stress every day can be hard. But for many people, a toxic culture makes it a nightmare. There’s still a long way to go in making harassment and discrimination-free workplaces a reality, and what’s more, people working in the arts are not immune to being silenced by fear and intimidation.

According to Statistics Canada, 19% of women and 13% of men reported that they had experienced harassment in their workplace, as reported in the 2016 General Social Survey on Canadians at Work and Home, which polled Canadians between ages 15 to 64 in all sectors. This was before the #MeToo movement and further reading on this report suggests these figures are under-reported.

Workplace harassment includes verbal abuse, disrespect and degradation, humiliating behaviour, threats of harm, bullying and intimidation, physical violence, and unwanted sexual attention or sexual harassment. The report cites the most common type of workplace harassment was verbal abuse (13% of women and 10% of men), and the second was humiliating behaviour, reported by 6% of women and 5% of men. Approximately 3% of each said they had experienced threats.

The problem of workplace harassment is a global issue: in 2019 the International Labour Organization passed a convention recognizing that harassment and violence “can constitute a human rights violation or abuse…is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.”

Harassment in the workplace has the potential for profound impact on the health and well-being of workers, as well as on their job tenure, stability and satisfaction. But for organizations who address harassment head-on, the benefits are far reaching, including: improving workplace culture and morale, strengthening attraction and retention of employees, increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism and reducing organizational risk and liability.

Following a wave of reports and allegations in the cultural sector and beyond, in 2018 Canada Council for the Arts raised the bar in releasing their statement denouncing harassment, sexual misconduct or abuse of power in any workplace, and went as far to say that grant recipients must commit to provide safe working conditions and to foster a workplace free from discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct. Failure to do so may lead to a review and reversal of a grant decision.

Also in 2018, Canada’s performing, literary and visual arts organizations and artists joined together in an initiative called “Respectful Workplaces in the Arts.” Led by the Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC), this cross-country, cross-sector project, funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage, is designed to deal with and remove harassment in the sector.

One of the initiatives to come out of this campaign is the “Respectful Workplaces in the Arts” workshop. Intended for non-profit organizations and cultural workers in any disciplines or industries, including managers, administrators, technical personnel, Board members, volunteers and artists, the session explores how to best deal with situations that could result in harassment with the goal of eliminating sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination and violence, and increasing respect in arts workplaces.

The Quinte Arts Council is proud to host one of these workshops online on March 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (ED NOTE: REGISTRATION AVAILABLE ON EVENTBRITE.)

“Respect in any place is foundational, but as an umbrella organization representing artists and arts groups of all disciplines within Quinte Region, we thought it paramount to host this opportunity to learn best practices to eliminate workplace harassment and discrimination, and cultivate a safe and respectful cultural community,” says Janet Jarrell, QAC Executive Director.

Facilitated by official CHRC trainer Farah Fancy, the topic will be addressed through information, small group discussion, case study analysis, and engaged activities to reinforce learnings.

Spaces are limited. For more information or to register, visit or email