Episode 153 – Investing in the Arts

On this episode, we learn about how the Canada Cultural Investment Fund (CCIF) matches endowment donations to create a sustainable funding source for arts organizations like Edmonton Opera and Ukrainian Shumka Dancers + Shumka School of Dance.

CCIF is a program created by the Government of Canada. Their Endowment Incentives component provides matching funds to endowments that support professional performing arts organizations. ECF became a partner in this component in 2001. Since then, we’ve partnered with 21 local arts organizations to grow or start endowment funds that are held here at ECF. 

These participating organizations raise or contribute donations toward their endowment funds, and ECF co-applies to CCIF for those donations to be matched.  Since starting, we have raised over $21 million in donations with our partners. And have successfully received over $15 million in matching grants from the CCIF program. 

That means that since 2001, we have built over $36 million of endowment, creating a sustainable funding source that will support local arts far into the future. 

Learn more about the Canada Cultural Investment Fund (CCIF).
Engagement at ECF: nxavier@ecfoundation.org
See what’s next for Edmonton Opera and Ukrainian Shumka Dancers + Shumka School of Dance.
To find out more about how you – or an organization you love – can take advantage of the CCIF matching opportunity, please reach out to Noel Xavier, Director of Philanthropy and Donor Engagement at NXavier@ecfoundation.org.

ECF Happenings:
Read the latest on our blog.
See how ECF connects you with Edmonton’s community.
Check out some of the amazing funds our donors have created.
Find out how to create an Endowment Fund of your own.

ECF Grants:
* Click here to see all ECF Grants.

Upcoming Student Awards:
* Click here to find details for all of our student awards!

The Well Endowed Podcast is produced by Edmonton Community Foundation.

Image for this episode is courtesy of Ukrainian Shumka Dancers + Shumka School of Dance.

Transcripts by Karli Drew.


[The Well Endowed Podcast theme music plays]

Anna Alfonso [00:00:25] Hi everyone. Welcome to ECF’s Well Endowed Podcast. I’m Anna Alfonso.

Graeme Lummer [00:00:30] And I’m...

Graeme Lummer. Edmonton is full of generous donors who have created endowment funds at Edmonton Community Foundation.

Anna [00:00:36] These funds are carefully stewarded to generate money that supports charities in Edmonton and beyond.

Graeme [00:00:42] On this podcast, we share stories about how these funds help strengthen our community… because it’s good to be well endowed.

Anna [00:00:48] On this episode, we learn about the Canada Cultural Investment Fund, or CCIF for short.

Graeme [00:00:53] CCIF is a program created by the Government of Canada. Their endowment incentives component provides matching funds to endowments that support professional performing arts organizations.

Anna [00:01:03] ECF became a partner in this component in 2001. Since then, we’ve partnered with 22 arts organizations to grow or start endowment funds that are held at ECF.

Graeme [00:01:15] These participating organizations raise or contribute donations towards their endowment funds and ECF co-applies to CCIF for those donations to be matched.

Anna [00:01:23] Graeme, what kind of performing arts do you like to check out?

Graeme [00:01:27] I’m a big fan of the Citadel Theatre. I think, uh, most recently I went and saw Jane Eyre, which was an awesome performance. It was really fun.

Anna [00:01:33] Oh, that’s a classic. Well, I went to the Edmonton Folk Fest for the first time this year, and it was such an amazing experience. I can say, for sure, that next year I’ll be running up that hill. And this is why CCIF is so important. It helps performing arts in our city continue to flourish. Since starting, we’ve raised over twenty one million dollars in donations with our partners and have successfully received over fifteen million dollars in matching grants from the CCIF program.

Graeme [00:02:04] That’s incredible. That means that since 2001, we have built over thirty six million dollars of endowment for 22 arts organizations right here in Edmonton, creating a sustainable funding source that will take our arts far into the future.

Anna [00:02:16] Our Director of Philanthropy and Donor Engagement, Noel Xavier, sat down with two of our current partners, Edmonton Opera and Ukrainian Shumka Dancers and Shumka School of Dance to find out how CCIF impacts their work.

[The Well Endowed Podcast jingle plays in background]

Graeme [00:02:30] And to share what other organizations can expect if they would like to participate in the CCIF endowment incentive. Over to you Noel.

Noel Xavier [00:02:37] Thanks, Anna and Graeme!

I’m very excited to introduce two guests with us today, Gordana Bosiocic from Edmonton Opera, and Nick Pawluk from the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers and the Shumka School of Dance. Thanks for being here with us today. Can you share a little bit about yourselves to get us started?

Maybe Gordana, you go first.

Gordana Bosiocic [00:02:57] Thank you so much for having me, Noel. This is very exciting. I look forward to chatting about endowment and this wonderful program. As you mentioned, I’m a Director of Development and Government Relations with the Edmonton Opera. I have been working with them for a little over seven years, and I oversee everything that comes with, uh, fund development and endowment, that’s under my portfolio as well.

Noel [00:03:17] That’s great. Welcome. I’m really excited to work with you.

Gordana [00:03:20] Thank you.

Noel [00:03:21] And Nick, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Nick Pawluk [00:03:23] So, I’m the treasurer for the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers. I also co-chair Shumka’s fund development committee. And so endowment work is great because it crosses between those two areas, uh, those two portfolios that I have with Shumka. I danced with Shumka for six years and recently retired from the company. And I’m really excited to continue to be involved with the administrative aspect with the endowment.

Noel [00:03:42] Well, that’s great. I’ve really enjoyed getting to work with the both of you over the last couple of years, especially around the Canada Cultural Investment Fund or CCIF for short.

Nick, let’s start with you. How did Shumka first hear about CCIF and get involved?

Nick [00:03:55] Shumka’s thoughts are planning to do with an endow— endowment started with a man called Dr. Roman Petryshyn, O.C. He has been involved in the Ukrainian community in establishing endowed funds for MacEwan University, and he was a board member at the time when we started looking at, uh, starting an endowed fund for Shumka. And he was a very vocal proponent of the idea. Basically, we took his idea. Shumka knew that we wanted to start it. We knew that we didn’t have the resources to manage it in-house. So we looked at what partner organizations that we could pair with to take advantage of the CCIF granting, um, as well as, uh, t-to manage the funds themselves. And so as we looked through that process and… and pretty much shopped through different organizations, ECF seemed like a very easy partner for us to work with. So, uh, from th-the materials that we read externally and… and your experience with CCIF in applying for that portion of the grant, really… once we started talking to you, we understood it was a great match based on your experience with… with CCIF already. Um, and organizations like the Opera who had already done it an-and blazed a trail for us before. [laughs]

Noel [00:04:57] Well, that’s great. We’re… we’re glad that you came to us and we’re glad to work with you.

Gordana, how about yourself? Edmonton Opera’s been with the program pretty much since the beginning. It started in 2001. So Gordana, tell us a little bit about how the CCIF program has changed Edmonton Opera.

Gordana [00:05:14] It has really allowed us, uh, to think a little bit more outside the box and we are able to take some risks with knowing that we have that money guaranteed every year. Um, especially came in handy during the pandemic, uh, when, you know, we could not perform, we didn’t know what was happening, how long we were gonna be out of work, how long we couldn’t be able to be in closed spaces. It really gave us that guarantee that we were able to keep our employees. We were able to do some online, um, classes and little kitchen concerts that we paid our artists and kept them engaged. So that really helped us understand the need for this program and that all the years of campaigning have really shown— uh, all the effort is paying off and we were able to do so many more things that we would not be able to do without having that endowment fund.

Noel [00:06:10] That’s great, Gordana. Thanks so much.

Nick, Shumka’s a little newer to the program. What has the experience been like so far, in your opinion?

Nick [00:06:17] So, Shumka’s experience so far in setting up our endowment has been fantastic. Uh, ECF has made it easy to do the paperwork, fill out the paperwork, uh, hold our hands, really, through every step of the process. From setting up the endowed funds to having, uh, money going back and forth between donors and Shumka and ECF to applying for the CCIF grant on an annual basis. Uh, their assistance has made it so easy, so fantastic for us to, um, get this established as an opportunity for our donors to support Shumka in a way that they weren’t able to do so before.

Noel [00:06:50] That’s great, Nick. Thanks. It goes both ways. It-it helps to have partners like Shumka and like Edmonton Opera, uh, who make the project seamless for us as well. So thank you both. So let’s talk a little bit about that process, then. How does it work from your perspective? What kinds of things could other organizations expect if they wanted to participate in the CCIF program?

Gordana, what’s it like at the Opera?

Gordana [00:07:14] You know, it’s actually— working with ECF has really been, um, seamless. It— They take off all of the stress. Uh, what we do, we prepare the campaign and we prepare the letters that we mail out to our donors. Uh, and we collect donations, of course, but throughout the entire process, ECF and their team is… is there for us and support us with checking in on us and answering any of the questions that we may have. Um, near the end, they help us, um, count everything, put all the numbers through and finish running the grants. Um, their part is always done ahead of time. At the end, our finance, uh, department writes in their numbers and it’s a package deal, um, that we just get to submit and reap the rewards. So, definitely if anybody’s looking, um, to start an endowment, ECF is a great partner to have.

Noel [00:08:13] Great. Well, thank you very much for that endorsement! Appreciate that.

Gordana [00:08:16] Well, I remember when I first… took on the endowment campaign, uh, from the previous director, she did a wonderful job, uh, keeping all the numbers. I was so overwhelmed with thinking, “Oh my goodness, how am I gonna do this? Add everything an-and so many… uh, boxes to check off.” But it really— once I sat down with… with you, Noel, was— it was, “Wow, okay, this is not that bad.” You just have to be on top of it. And, uh, the team stepped up and it was— honestly, it was seamless.

Nick [00:08:50] I think Gordana nailed it. ECF has made the whole process… so easy [laughs] for us and I— and I’ve said that before, but it’s, uh— from the paperwork it gets mailed to us when it needs to get mailed to us. You’re great at following up with us when… when things are behind or when you have questions. And when we have questions about how CCIF works, how ECF works, um— or our donors come to us saying, “Hey, what’s the process on this? We want to start a named fund” or some of these little details, uh, ECF has always been there as a partner to answer those questions in— with great detail, with great knowledge and great expertise. And that’s so valuable to Shumka to have a partner with our endowment in ECF like that.

Noel [00:09:28] Well, thank you. You’re both very kind. But really, I think the application to Canadian Heritage makes it easy for both parties to be able to provide the information required for this matching program. So… we enjoy working with the two of you as well. So thank you for that.

Nick [00:09:45] Noel, what’s it like for ECF from the application perspective? I know that recently Canadian Heritage allowed, uh, applicants to submit electronic documents and that it doesn’t have to be a thick manila envelope anymore, but from your perspective, what goes into that process an-and how does that work for you?

Noel [00:10:01] Well, that’s a great question! Um, actually, the application for us requires a little bit of information on the returns of— on investment, uh, the fees, the grants, and other financial information that we put together on your behalf for all of your endowment funds. And we, too, like… like your organizations, we have to put together our financial statements, um, any new information that’s happened over the past year. But you’re right, Nick. It’s really great in the last couple of years that we don’t have to submit, uh, one of those large applications. Um, it’s now done electronically via email, which makes it a lot easier for both of us as… as you all know. And, uh… and so for us, it’s… it’s not onerous, although you’ve both heard me say, “You have to do one half of the application and we have to do up to 10 or 11 halves of an application” because in addition to the two of you, we also work with a number of other arts organizations every year. Um. But we enjoy doing it and… um, and it’s… it’s quite straightforward.

[00:11:06] But enough about us. Let’s turn it back over to the two of you. The CCIF program is all about creating sustainability for the future. So, tell us a little bit about how future sustainability will help grow your organization.

Maybe Gordana, we’ll start with you.

Gordana [00:11:22] Great question. Um, well, with this fund, it really allows us, uh, to have a little bit more of a comfort when we plan our seasons. Uh, we can take a little bit more risk, uh, we can partner with different theatres in the city. Instead of doing the three main stage operas, we can maybe do something different and partner with, like, a Citadel or a Triffo or down— or Westbury, any other theatre in the city, uh, where we bring in new works or something different instead of those… uh, classic three main stage operas that we have been doing for a number of years. And with that, we hope to, you know, bring opera to the people and we also hope to bring new audiences and, uh, spread the love of music and, uh, bring people together. That’s one thing that pandemic has taught us is everything can be gone in… in a… in an instant and with these funds, we are definitely looking into doing more and being out in the community more.

Noel [00:12:24] Nick, tell us a little bit about how the growth of the endowment program could impact Shumka in the future.

Nick [00:12:31] Shumka’s endowment is relatively young, and so we’re just starting to see grants come in from our endowed funds, uh, in the last year or two now through the pandemic. Uh. This sustainable funding allows us, similar to other arts organizations, to continue to push boundaries of what we want to do artistically. Shumka has a very talented artistic team, uh, who have incredible creative vision to create new Ukrainian dance works. Uh. Feature-length presentations that challenge the audience, challenge our donors, challenge our communities to engage with contemporary topics through the lens of Ukrainian dance, through the lens of Ukrainian culture. Which, uh, given global and geopolitical events right now is a very, uh, very sensitive but very topical, uh, thing to be doing.

[00:13:18] Endowed funds an-and the sustainability, the predictability of endowed funds allows us to push those boundaries in a way that means that we don’t have to rely so much on, uh… on the artistic success of a product or we can generate controversial products, which is what art’s really all about, is to provoke thoughts and provoke emotions in our audiences. It allows us to engage with our community, uh, through things like seniors programs through the Shumka School of Dance an-and a new generation of, uh, dancer talent. All of these things, uh, are only possible because we have continued sustainable funding through organizations like ECF through things like our endowed funds with CCIF matching.

Noel [00:13:58] Thank you both for bringing it back to community. At the end of the day, that’s really what this program is about. CCIF is… there to create sustainability for arts organizations like the Opera and Shumka to be able to continue to do the amazing work you do in our community. And so that’s wonderful that you’re looking forward to the future and using this opportunity to create more artistic opportunities for Edmontonians. I love that, thanks. As much as I loved the, uh, impromptu commercial for ECF on the application process, really, this program is… is about bringing arts into our community, so thank you both for that.

Gordana [00:14:41] I’ll send you an invoice later.


Noel [00:14:42] Yeah, yeah, exactly.

[continued laughter]

Nick [00:14:43] Yeah. Royalties from the podcast.

[continued laughter]

Noel [00:14:45] Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly.

Before we wrap up, is there anything either of you would like to add?

Gordana [00:14:51] Just wanted to say that this program is so wonderful and the arts organizations really benefit from it. Uh, it’s a long-term sustainability goal. So you— it allows us to take more risk, bring new works, uh, and showcase, um… what we can do and go out into the community more than without it.

Nick [00:15:12] From a donor’s perspective, having matching funds in any campaign is a huge bonus to, uh, a prospective donor. And I would like to just address to any donors who might be listening to this podcast, that finding these programs, finding these ways that the government incentivizes you really to earn this return on your dollars in addition to all the tax benefits and everything else that goes into donations, uh, is fantastic. Please continue to look for these opportunities. Look for local arts organizations, whether it’s the Opera, whether it’s Shumka, or any of the other amazing arts organizations that exist in Edmonton. We’re such a great city for… for the arts in general, whether it’s dance and singing, um, whether it’s musical theatre or the symphony, there’s so much to be found in… in professional arts organizations in the city.

[00:15:59] And our— uh, the support of donors and of Edmontonians and… and of different levels of government allows these professional arts organizations to present new artistic works that don’t— aren’t necessarily backed by a box office guarantee. Uh, they’re not fan favorites, they’re not things that everyone recognizes the name for. But when we present a new piece of work or we commission new works or new music or whatever we’re working on as, uh… as an artist, it’s important to have the sustainable funding that guarantees that we’re still going to be able to pay our bills at the end of the day. Rent doesn’t care if… if… if a show’s a box office success or not. And so, uh, having things like the endowment, having the backing of ECF and the federal government through CCIF is so important to Shumka and other organizations.

Noel [00:16:48] Well, that’s great. Thank you both for sharing your thoughts with us today. Really appreciate that.

So for our listeners out there, if you’re with an arts organization here in the community and would like to learn more about the CCIF program or to find out whether you might qualify, I’d love to hear from you. You can find me at ecfoundation.org and I’m sure the podcast team here will put my contact info in the show notes.

[The Well Endowed Podcast jingle plays in background]

If you’re a listener wanting to donate to help your favorite arts organization thrive in the future, donations must be received to an endowment fund by ECF no later than November 15th.

I want to thank Gordana and Nick once again for coming to share your stories with us. We really appreciate it. Thank you, and keep doing amazing art.

Gordana [00:17:32] Thank you for having us.

Nick [00:17:33] Thank you very much.

Grame [00:17:34] Thank you to Gordana Bosiocic, the Director of Development and Government Relations at Edmonton Opera.

Anna [00:17:41] And to Nick Pawluk, treasurer of Ukrainian Shumka Dancers and Shumka School of Dance. He’s also the co-chair of their fund development committee.

Graeme [00:17:50] And a special thanks to Noel Xavier, the Director of Philanthropy and Donor Engagement here at Edmonton Community Foundation.

Anna [00:17:55] We’ll have a link to more information about the Canada Cultural Investment Fund in our show notes and ways to connect with ECF if you’d like to participate.

Graeme [00:18:04] We’ll also have links to Edmonton Opera and Shumka so you can check out their upcoming programs.

Anna [00:18:09] While you’re clicking through, be sure to check out ECF’s upcoming grants and student awards to see when our applications will open next.

Graeme [00:18:17] And visit our blog for even more great community stories.

Anna [00:18:20] That brings us to the end of the show. Thanks for sharing your time with us.

[The Well Endowed Podcast music plays in background of outro]

Graeme [00:18:25] Yeah, thank you. If you enjoyed it, please share it with all the art lovers in your world.

Anna [00:18:29] And if you have time, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. We really love hearing from you.

Graeme [00:18:34] Come say hi to us on Facebook where you can see some pictures and share your thoughts, including your favorite arts organization.

Anna [00:18:40] Thanks again for tuning in. We’ve been your hosts, Anna Alfonso—

Graeme [00:18:44] And Graeme Lummer.

Anna and Graeme [00:18:46] Until next time!

Andrew Paul [00:18:48] The Well Endowed Podcast is produced by Edmonton Community Foundation—

Lisa Pruden [00:18:54] And is an affiliate member of the Alberta Podcast Network.

Andrew [00:18:57] This episode was edited by Lisa Pruden.

Lisa [00:18:59] You can visit our website at TheWellEndowedPodcast.com.

Andrew [00:19:02] Subscribe to us on iTunes—

Lisa [00:19:04] And follow us on Twitter at @theECF.

Andrew [00:19:07] Our theme music is by Octavo Productions.

Lisa [00:19:09] And as always, don’t forget to visit Edmonton Community Foundation at ecfoundation.org.

[theme music continues playing for a few seconds after dialogue ends]

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