Hindsight Makes Our Project Look Simple

We are providing this technical insight into the project in the hopes that it can help other organizations be that for building something of their own or taking our initial work even further. To get more information than what is here, please get in touch with us!


The CAVI was built in a few stages:


  1. Developing the data set of Canadian Arts organizations to source video from
  2. Determining the system of scraping the data from those sources
  3. Cleaning and preparing the data to be shared
  4. Building an interface for users to search and engagement with the data we assembled


These stages are simple to describe in hindsight, however our process was fairly exploratory. As described elsewhere in this set of resource pages, we built this prototype as much to fulfill a specific function as to use making as a way to understand the audio-video infrastructure of our time. We approached this with a DIY/hacker spirit, working to pull things apart and put them back together again in a new, sometimes unexpected, way.

The most obvious place to build our dataset from was through open data from funders. We focused on the Canada Council for the Arts, and informally cross referenced it with other provincial funders. 

The Canada Council offers a wealth of open data (check here), however much of it does not include websites or social media channels. We began using Airtable to filter the data, add new information and explore the content. 


Key Finding: If public funders released Open Documents that included all available websites and social media channels it would enable smaller arts organizations to do more with the information, faster. (It took us several days to manually find and add this information to the available open data).


We compared content from Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Vimeo and YouTube. While the content landscape is always shifting, our informal observations led us to conclude that YouTube represented the central publication platform for most of the organizations we looked at. The CAVI is far from comprehensive, but in our initial explorations it was clear (and somewhat of a surprise to us) that YouTube was a very dominant force in the online infrastructure for this material. 


Artengine is happy to share the list of 516 arts organizations with their corresponding websites and YouTube channels which we built the scraper from. Please download the csv file of the list here.


The open data from public funders was both an opportunity and limitation in this project. Artengine is very aware that this is only one version of Canadian arts content online. It is only a partial picture, and one that intersects, for better or worse, with a large state organization and its national and institutional mandate. The institutional approach to building the list gave us the opportunity to build a large list for our prototype with a clear limitation to the data in mind. We did not get involved in editorial or curatorial decisions, but used the funding structure (including all core funders and many projects in various Fields of Practice – a key funding term in the Canada Council data tables).

Who is Included?

Scrape! Clean! Scrape! Clean!

For The User: Search and Discover


Completeness and usability were not central to our process, rather we focused on prototyping and hacking as drivers of the design. We think of hacking as inspired from the DIY and maker movement, as a mode intervention that breaks, appropriates existing infrastructures and tools with the ethos of openness, sharing, and decentralization as a way to reflect, challenge and reimagine new ways of being in the world. It was important to this project that open-source and easily accessible tools were used, documented, and shared. That is why, although we had the option to hire a developer and build all the components by scratch, it was more valuable in our approach that tools and knowledge were accessible to those of us with some technical expertise and be able to share it with those who may not have an IT background. By hacking the tool ourselves, we reclaimed a sense of agency over the digital, understanding what limits could be pushed with our own limited set of technical skills.