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21 Jun 2021




UrbanArts is a progressive, not-for-profit charitable Local Arts Service Organization (LASO) providing  opportunities for diverse cultural expression, artistic development, training and employment to members  of urban communities with a focus on youth in (the former City of) York; UrbanArts focuses on engaging  community through the arts; UrbanArts is an incubator for local arts, with a range of programs led by  professional artists in visual, literary, digital, culinary and media arts, theatre, dance and music. As the thread that weaves together generations, UrbanArts offers its program and services to the broader community, maintaining a focus on youth. 

UrbanArts’ mandate is to promote, engage and facilitate cultural and community development opportunities between artists, arts organizations and community members and community organizations. 


The scope of work is two-fold. UrbanArts and its board of directors are looking to engage a consultant who can facilitate and support the organization in developing its new Strategic Plan and corresponding implementation plan as well as new policies. The current 4-year strategic plan, 2020 Vision, was completed in 2016 and covered the period of 2016 to 2020. 

1. Strategic Plan: 

2020 Vision served as a guide for key strategic priorities over the past four years. These included, Program Development, Service Expansion, Fundraising, Board & Organizational Development and will form the basis of – and continue to be among the key tenets of our work and planning during the ongoing pandemic. Within the broader context of supporting and emboldening the Community Arts Sector within (the former City of) York, UrbanArts’ Board of Directors is embarking on a strategic planning process to guide our priorities for the next 4 years as we look towards Paving the Way Forward for Community Arts Programming

2. Policy Review & Development 

UrbanArts intends to undertake a review of our current organizational policies to update the ones we have and to create new and necessary ones. In consideration of the ongoing racism, oppression and marginalization being experienced by many communities we serve and the widespread impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, our organizational policies require review to ensure the current ones are in compliance and to develop new and needed ones. 

Project overview 

Acknowledging the challenges within the arts, and more specifically within the community arts sector and  the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the sector, our goal is to ensure that we can continue to  operationalize our priorities by outlining key, new and tactical directions that will inform governance,  programming, and operational planning during this uncertain time, ensuring all three areas are in alignment  with sectoral priorities and stakeholder demands bolstered by requisite policies while enhancing the sector and the lives of those we serve. 

Questions to be answered throughout this process include: What is our value add in this current eco-system? Where are we driving change? What impact do we want to create? Are we stretched too thin? How do we best represent the growing and distinct needs of the community arts sector? Do we want to deepen our focus in critical areas within the community arts sector? How do we ensure flexibility and responsiveness in any planning process? How does our governance process need to evolve to be more focused and impactful – what competencies do we require? How do we further and strategically embed policies into programs and operations? 

We are seeking to work with a consultant(s) with a deep understanding of the community arts sector including its issues, challenges and ongoing/emerging trends. Someone who will approach this work with dynamism, innovation and creative thinking – design focused, systems analysis, generative thinking strategies.  

The role of the consultant will be to assist in developing and implementing a new/refreshed strategic plan, review current policies and create new and relevant ones, ensuring that the entire process is participatory and enhances stakeholders’ sense of ownership by engaging meaningfully with community members, Board of Directors, employees, artists, program participants, partners, volunteers, donors and supporters, etc. 

Critical areas that the board would like to ensure are integrated into the new strategic plan and implementation plan include a focus on the recovery from COVID-19 within the community arts sector and to ensure that the plan includes a strong equity focus and direction. 


The period of engagement will be from October 2021 – February 2022. 


Approximately 5-6 months 


The scope of this work is also to include: 

  • Review and analyze current strategic plan along with other organizational documents, based upon existing challenges in the implementation of the strategy, with a focus on: Paving the Way Forward for Community Arts Programming. Where are we? Where do we want to be? How will we get there?
  • Conducting a survey of community members, program participants, board of directors, employees, artists, partners and other stakeholders, current and historical
  • Identifying themes from survey results and sharing with board members and management team; drafting recommendations, identifying gaps and highlighting opportunities
  • Identify critical gaps, conduct SWOT analysis, and identify strategic opportunities through interviews and meetings
  • Engage with the Board and management team to prioritize strategic direction and refine mission, vision, objectives and strategy
  • Hosting strategic planning sessions with board members and staff sharing information to date with the delivery of Strategic Plan 2021-2025 and accompanying implementation plan. 
  • Review current policies for relevance, create new relevant policies as identified and required.
  • Presenting a draft multi-year strategic plan and goals as well as objectives for the corresponding implantation plan which includes reviewing, analyzing and, where applicable, refreshing or fundamentally updating the following: Mission, Vision, Mandate and Manifesto, Strategic Priorities, Artistic Policy and role of policy, Governance Structure, and determining Values
  • Presenting draft policies (revised and new) for review
  • Presenting final strategic plan, implementation plan and policies and support the development of an implementation plan
  • Orienting staff, artists, partners, community members and other stakeholders to strategic plan, implantation plan and policies as revised and/or developed 

Specific Objectives 

The consultant will work directly with UrbanArts’ Management team and an identified representative of the Board of Directors throughout the process. 

Proposal Submission 

Proposal content 

In submitting your proposal, please include the following: 

  • Descriptions of your work, including relevant and specific experiences which will help us determine why you are the right consultant for this project
  • Outline of your qualifications
  • Two examples of project documents (e.g., written report, project plan, etc.)
  • Overview of your understanding of the scope and requirements of the project
  • A description of the proposed approach and methodologies to be employed
  • A proposed implementation plan and clear breakdown of the tasks, showing the amount of time you will spend on this project and expected milestones
  • An overview of your expectations of the strategic planning committee
  • A budget for the total cost of the work, including materials and other expenditures including taxes Three references, with both email and phone details and a brief summary of the work completed, ideally from similar projects
  • Demonstration of experience and strong knowledge of anti-oppression framework including a commitment to justice and equity
  • Please provide details and/or case studies of experience working for BIPOC/diverse community focused organizations
  • Demonstrable experience in organizational and change management
  • Knowledge of the non-profit, charitable sector in addition to the arts sector
  • Ability to facilitate sessions both virtually and in-person 

As part of our commitment to equity, diversity and to reflect the community we serve, we encourage proposals from Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities as well as those with disabilities or who identify as a part of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. 


Budget – $16,000 (please provide a breakdown of budget inclusive of HST & participant honoraria along with an accompanying project plan) 

Contact for questions and proposal submission: 

Please submit any questions, requests for clarification, or background information to Lensa Simesso Denga, Operations Manager: by 5 pm September 26th, 2021. Responses to all questions will be sent back to interested parties by October 15th, 2021. 

Submission Details

Please provide an outline of the proposed plan with timelines. Full proposal should not exceed pages including project plan and budget breakdown. Please include related experience in strategic planning and organizational policy development, and if you have worked in virtual/hybrid spaces before. 

Please submit your proposal by 5pm on September 26th, 2021 to: 

UrbanArts, 5 Bartonville Ave., E., Toronto M6M 2B1 

or via email to  

Please note: As our offices remain partially closed due to COVID-19, we will be unable to answer phone calls

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