CCL Alumni in Focus: SCALE

Julie’s Bicycle’s CCL programme aims to build an international network of diverse and influential cultural climate leaders who will work with their communities to make change happen.

Non-profit Canadian arts and culture network, SCALE, is a brilliant example of one of these exciting initiatives. They are about to enter an exciting new phase of their organisation’s development, with the launch of a new website and tools to enable connections and partnerships across their community. We hear about the formation and work of this inspiring network, and how participating in the CCL Canada programme supported the organisation to grow and develop.

L to R: Anne-Catherine Lebeau, Marissa McHugh, Judi Pearl and Julia Matamoros at CCL Canada, August 2022.
L to R: Anne-Catherine Lebeau, Marissa McHugh, Judi Pearl and Julia Matamoros at CCL Canada, August 2022.

About SCALE: the network, the people, and how it all began

SCALE is a network of artists, cultural practitioners, and arts organisations committed to addressing the climate emergency and environmental injustice. We coordinate and facilitate the mobilisation of art and culture in c\a\n\a\d\a to create a just and regenerative world.

SCALE was founded in 2021 by a small group of dedicated artists and arts workers, as a national hub for all those across the c\a\n\a\d\i\a\n arts and culture sector working on climate issues, as well as those who wanted to learn about, and engage with, the intersection between climate and culture.

The founders were aware of many worthy projects at this intersection, but largely operating in isolation from each other. SCALE was founded as a means to connect these separate efforts by facilitating networking and collaboration, sharing knowledge and avoiding duplication, all with the goal of optimising the potential impact of the sector in building a liveable future for all.

SCALE began in the early spring of 2021 as a series of impromptu conversations over zoom during the pandemic, among seven colleagues spread across the country. After the first formal meeting, the response was such that very quickly the decision was made to create a new non-profit organism.

SCALE was incorporated on Dec 3, 2021, and with funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Arts Centre (NAC), was able to hire its first staff in late 2022. Since then, SCALE’s team has consolidated into four different leads: Annette Hegel at the helm of Organisational Development and Network, Julia Matamoros in Communications, Tanya Kalmanovitch leading the Mission Circle, and Judi Pearl, as NAC Liaison.

SCALE is an organism based on a holacratic structure. It operates with the Mission Circle, providing ethical direction on the overall mission; a staff team, and a minimal Board of Directors. SCALE also considers its network – the Assembly – an extension that actively seeks feedback from the community to make decisions and better respond to changing needs.

CCL Canada and SCALE

SCALE was established in December 2021, predating CCL Canada, however Julie’s Bicycle was a huge inspiration for SCALE’s founders in 2021. Much like JB, SCALE’s founders had a vision for a national hub for climate+arts, a gathering place for networking, knowledge-sharing, and inspiration, with the hope of eventually influencing policy-makers and funders.

Two of SCALE’s seven founders attended a CCL  – Claude Schryer in Arizona (CCL USA 2020), and Judi Pearl in Kananaskis, Alberta (CCL Canada 2022). It was CCL Canada in 2022 that Judi; Tracey Friesen – one of SCALE’s Mission Circle members – and Julia, now our Communications Lead, came together. It was there that Julia and many others first learned about this brand-new organisation called SCALE. CCL Canada provided the perfect setting to introduce SCALE to a larger Canadian community at the intersection of art, culture, and climate.

For an organism with a mission to foster networking and collaboration in this very space, the experience proved incredibly beneficial. In fact, many of our peers from CCL Canada have since become valued members of the SCALE community, thanks to the relationships cultivated during CCL. CCL enriched the weaving process SCALE was in the process of nurturing by expanding the circle but also by allowing people to connect on a more personal level.

Ian Garrett (Director, Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, Co-host of CCL Canada) with Julia Matamoros, soon-to-be SCALE Communications Lead.
Ian Garrett (Director, Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, Co-host of CCL Canada) with Julia Matamoros, soon-to-be SCALE Communications Lead.

SCALE’s unique role in Canada’s cultural and climate landscape

SCALE is filling the gap of what has been a missing piece of network infrastructure by creating a comprehensive map and providing the connective tissue for those already working at the intersection of art and climate, while building the collective power and capacity of the arts to drive cultural transformation. We develop tactics, align actions, and build the capacity of c\a\n\a\d\a’s arts and culture community to respond to the climate emergency.

Judi Pearl (SCALE Co-founder) and Julia Matamoros, becoming fast friends at CCL Canada.
Judi Pearl (SCALE Co-founder) and Julia Matamoros, becoming fast friends at CCL Canada.

SCALE’s ethos

SCALE’s ethos is rooted in addressing the climate emergency by challenging entrenched systems of colonialism and capitalism, recognizing their role in perpetuating environmental injustice, and advocating for transitioning towards post-capitalist and anti-colonial systems grounded in environmental justice.

SCALE is committed to modelling system change by replacing hierarchical structures with dynamic, collaborative approaches. We measure success through empowerment, emphasising collective power and shared responsibility over individual or organisational gain. We prioritise creativity, regeneration, and a just future for all living beings, fostering radical care and collaboration as the means to achieve these priorities.

SCALE’s new phase of development

SCALE is gearing up for an exciting phase of growth and influence as we continue our mission to harness the power of art and culture in the fight against climate change and environmental injustice.

In the coming months, we have a host of initiatives on the horizon. First and foremost, we are thrilled to announce the launch of our brand-new website, a dynamic hub providing pathways to action tools and case studies to inspire and empower artists and cultural practitioners.

Additionally, we’re rolling out a cutting-edge interactive network and matchmaking tool, fostering connections and collaborations across Turtle Island. Our commitment to thought leadership remains unwavering, as we present a lineup of online webinars and in-person gatherings, sparking crucial conversations about the pivotal role of the arts in achieving climate justice.

Lastly, we’re working diligently to grow the network, uniting like-minded individuals and organisations to bolster our advocacy efforts on the path to a just and regenerative world.

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