What is this research about?
This study focused on how immigrant artists and creative sector workers are integrated into Toronto’s creative economy – and the services that help them do so. The study has two principal components: 1. Documentation of the services and programs offered to immigrants to Canada who may desire to integrate into Toronto’s creative economy, and 2. An analysis of the entry points used by immigrants to access Toronto’s creative economy.
What did the researchers find?
"The key objectives were to identify barriers that immigrant artists and creative workers experience in accessing employment in the Toronto creative industry; to identify current gaps in professional development and funding programs available to immigrants; and to identify successful programs that immigrant artists and creative workers have pursued to secure work and opportunities in Toronto’s creative sector.
Successful points of entry identified were mentorship, funding and knowledge sharing programs. Immigrant creative economy workers found the most success with programs that provided mentorship, or provided funding for the creation of new work, or programs that shared knowledge about the creative sector (e.g., mixers, meet-ups, workshops).
Key barriers that immigrants identified include lack of information, isolation, financial insecurity, age, and racism. Immigrant creative economy workers felt it was difficult to find information about their professional industries. The isolation from family/friends/community, financial insecurity and racism that were present because of their immigrant status lessened their likelihood to take career risks. Additionally, many felt that programs that would help them gain Canadian experience were focused on youth and they no longer qualified for such programming.
Gaps in the services currently offered identified included information/knowledge, new experience, access to space, and industry specific language training. Immigrant artists and creative workers desire programs that can share information and knowledge about their professional industries, help them gain new Canadian experience, assist in the access of space to do their work, and assistance in acquisition of industry specific language/terms.
Although some barriers faced by immigrant artists and creative industry workers have crossover implications with other immigrant/newcomer services (e.g., assistance with English language issues may be offered in non-art-specific capacities), there were desires for more specific creative economy assistance in mentorship, new experience (bridging education, internships), physical/rental space, and understanding industry language. The immigrants trying to access the creative economy did not feel that current organizations/resources addressed these needs enough—or that the knowledge of these resources was accessible to immigrants."