Press Release: Experimental pilot brings startup thinking to the performing arts


Canada’s Performing Arts Alliance is launching a new pilot program in Toronto to help performing arts organizations de-risk promising initiatives by applying the tools and methodologies used by technology startups.

LEANARTS will be delivered in partnership with MaRS and The Working Group, two leaders in the startup world in Toronto.

LEANARTS will bring together teams from a range of performing arts disciplines for a five-week crash course in startup-style ideation. Working with experienced mentors and instructors, participants will learn new strategies for shaping project ideas, explore new revenue models and improve their probability of funding.

Up to ten teams will be selected to participate in the program, which begins in January 2015. Organizations working across dance, opera, orchestra, theatre and spoken word are invited to apply by submitting their ideas for sustainable new projects or initiatives. The application process is open to both members and non-members.

“There are parallels between the startup world and the arts sector in terms of scant resources. Risk capital is essential to research & development, and in the arts, we have no money to waste on inevitable and essential failure. How can we learn to prototype on a small scale, test our ideas, and fail faster and cheaper? How can we make our limited public money work harder and smarter for us?

We think applying Lean methodology to great ideas in the early stages of development might offer an answer to these questions. LEANARTS is the realization of this idea, and the first ever program of its kind for the arts.”

Christina Loewen: Executive Director,

Teams interested in participating have until October 1st to submit their applications. Those interested in finding out more are invited to attend an information session at MaRS Discovery District on Friday, September 12 from 5.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. More details can be found at 

LEANARTS is funded through a Leadership for Change grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.



For more information please contact
Holly Knowlman: Marketing Manager, The Working Group , 647 920 9650