Why Artists Matter in Public Service…

Mar 2nd, 2016

Oscar Peterson serenades me every morning as I walk through the National Arts Centre to Service Lab.


What I love about this image is that was taken the day after the worst snow storm in the Nation’s Capital.

50+ centimeters of white stuff  but Oscar played.

And if you look closely, somebody has cleared his keys.

Who does this?

Someone who knows the importance of play, performance and pride?

I wish and hope, given Oscar’s location, someone in public service.

Why does this matter?

Because it speaks to empathy, understanding and creation.

Oscar sits, smiles and performs.

Accepting, listening and empathizing what comes his way.

Canada’s Capital needs more of these spaces.

On Monday February 29, 2016 – Leap Year – ISED held the GoC Lab of Labs Working Meeting kick off.

Following that meeting, a brown bag lunch was held to talk about departments preparing a Labs Lounge for the April 20th Innovation Fair event at 90 Elgin St. with interested departments/agencies/groups.

About 18 people attended from an estimated 10 departments/agencies using ISED Service Lab space at the West wall whiteboard.

Lots of talk about how to make this event sing for public servants, especially showcasing the design thinking experience for those choosing to visit the event.

What struck me in the chat was a voice from the ESDC lab.

A  young, new and enthusiastic public servant hired literally off a VIA rail train recently graduated from OCAD (only 2 months in the system) who posited that Labs need artists to make the space sing.

Because it brings a different lexicon, perspective and creativity to the space.

Music to my ears.

Never mind advocating this for the last 26 years of my public service career.

So how to make it real?

ISED Service Lab’s December 2015 business plan shaped by Rob James and refined by our Lab staff includes an ‘artist-in-residence’ (and an entrepreneur in residence) program.

Because art, culture, science and innovation need to converge to grow Canada.

It drives our innovation ecosystem.

Regardless of where you live.


 vision | voice | visual mine