Panel: Systems Change – Digital Disruption and Funding Development 

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Countries around the world are experimenting with new approaches to policy to keep up with digital disruption and, ideally, to get ahead of the curve. Starting from the proposition that keeping up requires concerted efforts among policy-makers, funders, and practitioners, this panel will explore the design and impact of recent policy and funding approaches in Canada and beyond.   


Kelly Wilhelm

Kelly Wilhelm is an Ottawa-based strategist who works with organizations in the arts, media, creative industries, and philanthropy to envision, plan for, and execute change. A former public sector executive, Kelly brings a national perspective and more than 20 years’ experience in government, the nonprofit, and private sector to her work.

Kelly was Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Canadian Heritage from 2016-18, and was previously Director of Policy, Planning and Strategic Foresight at the Canada Council for the Arts. Recent projects include strategy work for Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the National Arts Centre, the City of Toronto, the Toronto Foundation, and the National Gallery of Canada. Kelly is a graduate of Queen’s University and has a master’s degree in Museum Studies from the University of Toronto. 


Lise Ann Johnson

Lise Ann Johnson is the Director of Strategic Granting Initiatives at Canada Council for the Arts. Her responsibilities include the delivery of the council’s Digital Strategy Fund, which supports the digital transformation of the arts sector in Canada, as well as The Creation Accelerator, a pilot partnership with CBC/Radio-Canada to support the development, creation, and sharing of original digital content. Since joining the Canada Council in 2012 as a Program Officer in the Theatre Section, Lise Ann has also worked as the Program Manager of Supporting Artistic Practice and the Director of Granting Program Operations.

Prior to joining Council, Lise Ann worked in the theatre community as a director and dramaturg with a passion for new Canadian plays. She served as the Artistic Director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company from 2005 to 2012 and the Artistic Associate and Literary Manager of the National Arts Centre English Theatre from 2001 to 2005. From 1997 to 2005, she coordinated and curated On the Verge, the NAC’s national play development festival. Lise Ann’s training includes an MA in Drama at the University of Alberta, the Directing Programme at the National Theatre School of Canada, an internship at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, an International Residency at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and the SITI Intensive in New York.

Fran Sanderson

Fran heads up the Arts and Culture Programmes and Investments team at Nesta, including Arts and Culture Finance, which makes impact loans to arts and culture organizations through the Arts Impact Fund and Cultural Impact Development Fund. The team works on various projects with the aim of understanding and articulating the full breadth of impact of arts, culture, and the creative economy; promoting innovative funding and business models and partnerships, such as blended finance, impact investing and crowdfunding; improving understanding of and access to the positive impacts of arts and culture; and helping arts and cultural organizations experiment with and benefit from new technologies, for example by collaborating with Arts Council England to produce the Digital Culture Survey. Current initiatives include Amplified, a grant and structured support programme helping cultural and creative organizations to use digital ideas to generate social impact, and an Innovate UK-funded project, with an RSC-led consortium including Punchdrunk, Magic Leap, EPIC Games, Marshmallow Laser Feast, and others to investigate what the Audience of the Future will look like.

In a previous life, Fran was a fund manager at JPMorgan, before spending some time travelling in a campervan and living off-grid in southern Portugal with her young family. She landed at Big Society Capital at its inception in 2012 and moved to Nesta in 2015.

Dr. Mary Elizabeth Luka

Dr. Mary Elizabeth (“M.E.”) Luka is Assistant Professor of Arts & Media Management at University of Toronto, and an award-winning scholar, activist and digital media producer for arts, social enterprises, broadcasting and telecommunications, and creative management policy, planning, and practice. She studies modes and meanings of co-creative production, distribution and dissemination in the digital age, to investigate how arts, culture, media and civic sectors are networked together. Dr. Luka holds a Connaught New Researcher Fellowship titled Understanding how arts and creative networks operate as pivots for social innovation in Canada, which is digitally mapping 200 arts and culture-based creative hubs and networks. Her Banting Fellowship, From Creative Citizenship to Globally-Networked Cultural Collaboration, launched this comparative international research project examining creative networks and partnerships in Canada, the UK and Australia. Dr. Luka is a founding member of the Critical Digital Methods Institute at UTSC, and a co-applicant on Archive/Counter-Archive: Activating Canada's Moving Image Heritage, a six-year national partnership involving several universities and cultural organizations in the management of marginalized and underrepresented media archives. She partners with Mass Culture to generate cultural research in Canada, and has previously been commissioned by Canadian Public Arts Funders and the Department of Canadian Heritage, among others. Mary Elizabeth is a member of the Advisory Board for Aarhus University’s Futuremaking initiative, co-editor for three special issues of Information, Communication & Society journal featuring international work on internet and social media studies, and Past Chair of the Board for Arts Nova Scotia, past member of Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, NSCAD University’s Board of Directors, and the Provincial and Territorial Advisory Group of Cultural Human Resources Council. Dr. Luka is a founding member of the public art and research group, Narratives in Space + Time Society, which intervenes in site-specific spaces to generate art and storytelling practices as modes of civic engagement, including through the use of GIS, augmented reality, digital media, and mobile device software applications.