Media releases

  • Niagara needs to support the arts during and after the pandemic, says new NCO research

    MEDIA RELEASE: 11 May 2021 – R0058

    The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Niagara’s vibrant arts community particularly hard, with impacts radiating out all across the region, says a new research brief from Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory.

    Live performances, gallery showings, workshops, educational arts training and many other activities associated with the arts community have stopped or been greatly reduced, yet the implications for Niagara aren’t clearly understood, says the brief’s author, Associate Professor of Educational Studies Kari-Lynn Winters.

    “The arts need to be continually supported,” says Winters. “The arts do more than what we think they’re doing: they bolster self-confidence and mental wellness, they leverage community building and reconciliation, and bring about self-actualization, inclusion and embracing diversities.”

    In the NCO brief, “What’s Art Got to Do With It? The role of arts and culture in a community’s survival during a global pandemic,” Winters presents three vignettes to illustrate how the arts have made a huge difference in people’s lives.

    One story outlines the situation of a homeless middle-aged woman associated with Start Me Up Niagara. After enrolling in an arts program, she was able to express herself confidently, raising awareness in the community about poverty and homelessness.

    The second vignette describes a play that Brock scholars and graduate students created to help audiences better understand critical issues of forced migration, marginalization, truth and reconciliation, and co-existence.

    The third story is about a drama workshop for Niagara students in Grades 4 to 8. After watching a play about body image, students were asked to role-play as experienced designers tasked with constructing the perfect mannequin.

    The exercise enabled a 10-year-old boy with autism to stand up to the scenario’s hypothetical boss and explain why he designed his mannequin the way he did.

    The NCO brief says the vignettes support research findings that a “central element of any community’s resilience is the critical mass of cultural activities — making up its life, outlook, creativity and ethos.”

    “The arts really make us human because they enable us to empathize with different perspectives and positions; it’s a great way to re-frame thinking,” says Winters, who is also an artist, art educator and the 2020 recipient of the St. Catharines Arts Award for Arts in Education.

    It is important for the broader Niagara community to support the arts and help the arts community recover from the devastations of COVID-19, says Winters.

    The NCO brief makes three recommendations that would support the arts in Niagara:

    • Set up artful spaces in public places: outdoor galleries and street theatre in various locations across the region “to broaden audiences, expand knowledge and offer spaces for critical and creative thinking.”
    • Create educational programs that build relationships between mentor artists and community members.
    • Establish grants for businesses to hire local artists, which makes the Niagara region more aesthetic and has the potential to bring beauty and joy to community members while appealing to people’s sense that Niagara is a quality place to live.”

    The brief also notes ways the “resilient and creative” arts community has bounced back, including Carousel Players creating Zoom plays, musicians playing music behind thick plastic in Niagara Falls hotels or on outdoor patios at Niagara wineries, and musicians performing on St. Paul St. in downtown St. Catharines.

    There are about 1,200 creative and performing artists in the region, with performing arts companies supporting more than 750 jobs not including promoters, agents and managers, as well as independent artists, writers and performers, says the brief.

    “We need to appreciate the economic vitality of Niagara’s arts community,” says NCO Director Charles Conteh. “We’re talking about a sector not only with an economic value of more than $2 billion in direct and associated spending, but also with an incalculable value in the overall quality of life, advancing social awareness, promoting inclusivity and providing portraits of our shared stories.”

    He says there are high hopes the sector will revive as vaccines become more accessible, but it still needs financial and other supports so as to contribute to Niagara’s economic, social and cultural vitality.

    Brock University Associate Professor of Educational Studies Kari-Lynn Winters is available for media interviews about the NCO brief.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

     * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

    – 30 –

    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock event to lead international conversation on sustainability reporting

    MEDIA RELEASE: 10 May 2021 – R0057

    The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the focus on environmental, social and governance issues by investors, policy makers and educators. But the absence of a global standard is hindering the widespread adoption of sustainability reporting.

    To help shape the future course of sustainability reporting, Brock University is bringing together global experts to kickstart a discussion Friday, May 14 from 9 to 11 a.m. To date, more than 3,500 participants have already registered for the online event being hosted by the Goodman School of Business’ CPA Ontario Centre for Public Policy and Innovation in Accounting.

    “Goodman is proud to welcome the leading experts in sustainability reporting and practitioners from around the world to engage in a dialogue on this important topic,” said Goodman Dean Andrew Gaudes.

    The event will feature two sustainability reporting panels, the first looking at meeting stakeholder needs and the second discussing materiality versus corporate greenwashing.

    The stakeholder needs panel moderated by Goodman Accounting Professor Fayaz Elayan will feature: Irene Heemskerk, Sustainability Fellow at the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation; Robert Hirth, Co-Vice Chair of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board; Carol Wilding, President and CEO of CPA Ontario; and Anup Srivastava, Canada Research Chair in Accounting at the University of Calgary.

    Mengtian Li, Assistant Professor of Accounting at Goodman, will moderate the materiality versus greenwashing panel featuring: Rosemary McGuire, Director of External Reporting and Capital Markets at CPA Canada; Patrick Kabuya, Senior Governance Specialist at the World Bank; Jo-anne Matear, Manager of Corporate Finance at the Ontario Securities Commission; and Samir Trabelsi, Professor of Accounting and Governance at Goodman.

    Trabelsi, who is also the event organizer, says business reporting has expanded beyond financial reporting and it’s important for practitioners and users to have these discussions.

    “Sustainability standards should be stakeholder driven but there needs to be a set of checks and balances put in place to keep organizations from engaging in greenwashing,” he says. “The accounting profession has an obligation to stay informed, to communicate and be an active participant in shaping the future course of sustainability reporting.”

    Brock President Gervan Fearon, who is also a CPA, CGA, is looking forward to the University hosting this important conversation.

    “The environmental, social and government (ESG) approach is expanding the definition of corporate social responsibility and its implications within the accounting profession,” Fearon says. “Without question, ESG factors affect both the income statement and balance sheet of organizations and, equally important, how corporations and organizations make decisions.” 

    He says corporations can no longer ignore ESG issues.

    “We must take them into account in fulfilling fiduciary responsibilities and duty of care which increasingly extend beyond the corporations’ financial statements alone to include the social fabric of the very societies in which corporations operate,” says Fearon. “Corporate reputation, goodwill and social license are increasingly being defined by ESG.”

    The free event is open to the public and interested participants can register here to receive the link to the livestream. A video recording will be made available for those not able to attend the event live.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

    – 30 –

    Categories: Media releases