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Hard Facts VS Proverbial Truths:

A #CultureShock Debate

On November 20, Culture Days and CAPACOA were pleased to present Hard Facts VS Proverbial Truths: The Impact of Arts and Culture on Canadian Citizens and Communities. This provocative Oxford-style debate on the economic/data-driven and intrinsic impact and value of arts and cultural participation was moderated by Simon Brault, O.C., O.Q., Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts, and pit Alain Dubuc, O.C., award winning economic journalist from La Presse up against Shawn van Sluys, Executive Director of the Musagetes Foundation

The debate motion for discussion was as follows: "For arts and culture to be fully valued by society, their impact must be demonstrated with hard facts."

The program is part of the inaugural Community Knowledge Exchange Summit (CKX) organized the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada and a growing network of partners. 

The debate generated profound insights and ignited discussion on how we understand and assess the value and consequent impact of arts and cultural participation on citizens and communities of all sizes across Canada. Watch the debate below, and stay tuned for a summary blog post on culture365.

Learn more about the CKX and the Summit head over to


Simon Brault, O.C., O.Q.Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts 

Simon Brault began his five-year term as Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts on June 26, 2014. He comes to the position with a full understanding of his role, having served as Vice-Chair of the Council’s Board of Directors from 2004 to 2014.

Mr. Brault has been active in the cultural sector for over 30 years and has been a driving force behind a number of major projects. Notably, as Administrative Director and Director General of the National Theatre School of Canada, he coordinated the ambitious project of restoring Montréal’s historic Monument-National.

He has held key positions in national organizations and has participated actively in initiatives such as the Forum d’action des milieux culturels de la Métropole, the steering committee of the Chantier de l’économie sociale, the Montréal Summit, the Rendez-vous novembre 2007 Montréal Métropole culturelle and Agenda 21C de la culture au Québec. An initiator of Journées de la culture, he was also a founding member and Chair of Culture Montréal from 2002 to 2014.

A much sought-after speaker, Mr. Brault has given many speeches at national and international venues addressing the economic and social contributions of the arts and culture.

His first non-fiction book, Le facteur C : l’avenir passe par la culture (La Presse / Éditions Voix parallèles, 2009), explained the dramatic rise of cultural concerns in the public agenda. This lively, highly-acclaimed work was published in English as No Culture, No Future (Cormorant Books, 2010).

Simon Brault has received numerous distinctions for his commitment to the social recognition of the arts and culture. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, Officier de l’Ordre national du Québec, a Fellow of the CGA Order and the CPA Order, and is a recipient of the 2009 Keith Kelly Award for Cultural Leadership.

Alain Dubuc, O.C.Journalist, Editor and Author

Alain Dubuc is a national affairs columnist for the Montréal daily La Presse and Le Soleil of Québec City. He has been chief editorialist at La Presse and publisher at Le Soleil. Alain Dubuc obtained his master’s degree in economics at the Université de Montréal. He was the recipient of the National Newspaper Award for editorial commentary in 1999 and of the Public Policy Forum Hyman Solomon award for excellence in journalism in 2009. He has been named Officer of the Order of Canada in December 2011.Alain Dubuc is the author of six books: Simple comme l’économie (1987), A dialogue on Democracy in Canada” (2002, with John Ralston Saul), Éloge de la richesse (2006), which won the Business Book Award in 2007, À mes amis souverainistes, (2008), and Les démons du capitalisme, pourquoi la crise et comment s’en sortir (2009), Portait de famille: 14 vrais ou faux mythes québécois (2014).

Shawn van Sluys Executive Director, Musagetes Foundation

Shawn Van Sluys is the Executive Director of Musagetes, a philanthropic foundation that experiments in small Canadian and European cities with ways to connect communities more deeply with the arts and creativity. The foundation’s mandate is to make the arts more central and meaningful in people’s lives, in their communities and societies. He joined Musagetes as its first Executive Director in January 2009. Prior to that, he was the first Executive Director of the Canadian Art Museum Directors’ Organization, a national arts-service organization that represents 85 museum directors. Shawn studied art history at the University of Lethbridge before taking his first position as the Public Relations Manager at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. He is the Vice-President of the Guelph Jazz Festival and of the Ammirato Culture House in Lecce, Italy. As a member of the Executive Team of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) at the University of Guelph, he leads the Practice-Based Research working group.