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Today, Monday September 14, 2020 is my last day of work as an indeterminate employee at the Canada Council for the Arts after 21 years and 37 days of service, some 7702 days. 

During peer assessment committee meeting, 1999

This morning, I will drop off my chair, laptop and a stack of borrowed books (which I did not all read) to the Council’s office.  

I served as a manager and senior strategic advisor over my career at the Council. I loved the work, notably advancing new ideas, nurturing networks and trying to uphold the fundamental values of the Council. 

Staircase at 150 Elgin, 2019

I am grateful to my colleagues at the Council, and in the arts community, for their patience, collegiality, solidarity and friendship. 

As of this moment, I let go of the beautiful and engaging intensity that is the Canada Council and will see where my spirit takes me. 

Home studio

Fin de parcours, avec un nouveau début, with a deep reset to start it off. 

Before leaving, I was asked to write about my lived experience was at the Council and what did I learn. I mentioned the following 6 points, which, with great humility, I share now:

  1. Accountability

Deliver on your accountabilities and renegotiate them as required. Always keep your supervisor and collaborators in the loop. Document your work. Admit mistakes and correct them immediately. Be reliable but not necessarily perfect. Maintain a positive attitude and have fun. 

2. Alignment

Try to focus on activities where your personal beliefs and values align with organizational priorities. Try and shape this alignment when opportunities arise. 

3. Collaboration

Get to know your collaborators. Observe and respect what they care about and how they work. Read their reports and engage in active listening. When in doubt, listen some more. Understanding is more interesting than judgement. 

4. Boundaries

Understand institutional boundaries: know your organization’s culture, its capacity, it’s blind spots, etc. Better to change the rules than to break them. Pick your battles in relation to what is best for your stakeholders and for the public good, not your ego or your immediate career aspirations (hard work will look after this). Recognition of your efforts might or might not happen, but you know what you did (and likely others will too). 

Canada Council Art Nook staff gallery, 2016

5. Celebration

Do fun and creative things with and for colleagues: art projects, workshops, plays, running clubs, yoga, gardening, competitions, etc. Get to know each other through culture and stay connected. This solidarity and shared experience are precious bonds.

6. Sustainability

Be green in everything you do. Fight for our environment with every breath, as if your life depended on it, because it does. 

Published by Claude Schryer

Franco Ontarian sound and media artist, arts administrator, cultural worker, zen practionner, former manager and senior strategic advisor at Canada Council for the Arts (1999-2020)

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