The Emerging Leaders Arts Summit (ELAS) was founded by Business for the Arts. Culminating after three years of bringing young leaders in the arts and private sector across Canada together in a summit to discuss leading trends, transitions, and theories in the arts sector, ELAS is a summit with a purpose to give the next generation of arts leaders and business philanthropists a platform for knowledge share and collective voice. Led by chairwoman, Raji Aujla, Creative Director at BftA and an Advisory Council consisting of Nichole Anderson, President and CEO of BftA; Janice Price, President and CEO of Banff Centre for Creativity; Barry Hughson, Executive Director of The National Ballet of Canada; and Robert Foster, Chair of Civic Theatres Toronto. A volunteer Steering Committee comprised of arts leaders, business philanthropists, and corporate stakeholders convenes and organizes the summit each year.

ELAS is a unique national leadership forum that is derived from its initiator, the Canadian Arts Summit (CAS). CAS is an invite-only weekend summit that brings together the chief executives, artistic directors, and board chairs of Canada’s largest 80 not-for-profit cultural institutions: symphony orchestras, theatres, operas, film festivals, and ballet companies, as well as heritage and art museums — primarily those with budgets over $5 million.

23128832930_9aef43dc59_o (1)

ELAS is an open-invitation summit that brings together Canada’s up-and-coming arts leaders and business philanthropists who share a vision to collaborate for the betterment of Canada’s cultural ecosystem. It is predicated upon the belief that these influential young leaders — philanthropists, artists, and administrators — can, by working together, develop the strengths required to support Canadian artistic aspirations. The summiteers, as well as other key stakeholders with a vested interest in nurturing and fostering a thriving cultural sector in Canada, will explore critical issues in the arts, leadership training, mentorship opportunities, cross sectoral collaboration, as well as Business for the Arts’ flagship advocacy and research program.

Each year, the summit’s theme is ideated by the Steering Committee. This year, on the occasion of Canada’s 150th anniversary, the summit will focus on imagining the future of Canada’s creative life through inclusive creative experiences – specifically an authentic process of reconciliation with Indigenous people in Canada, the intersections of cultural expression through creative collaboration, and engagement through digital innovation. 

Registration for the summit will begin in early Spring. To receive up-to-date information on the summit, please subscribe to our ELAS newsletter using the button below. If you are experiencing difficulties registering for the newsletter or require further assistance, please email Anthony Petroulakis at a_petroulakis@businessforthearts.org


Sign up for ELAS communiqués




ELAS (formerly known as The National Young Professionals Summit on the Arts) was hosted by Business for the Arts at Montreal’s impressive Arsenal Gallery on November 13, 2015. The Summit connected 150 of our country’s leading young professionals, philanthropists, volunteers and artists who are dedicated to fostering the growth of the arts in Canada.

Watch more videos from the 2015 Summit

Artists’ Panel: Setting the Stage

Conversation with the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Next Generation Partners in the Arts

Philanthropy in Canada

Focus Montréal

Brainstorm Sessions


Visit our Flickr page for photos from the Summit

Click here to view bios of the 2015 attendees