ARCA at the Canada Council for the Arts, 22 October, 2012

Todd Janes, President and Anne Bertrand, Director attended a day-long meeting on October 22nd with fellow National Arts Service Organizations and the Canada Council for the Arts.

On the agenda, a conversation on the topic of “change” as outlined in the news release of  October 10th 2012. This was followed by small group discussions on how the “change” agenda can contribute to reinforcing public engagement with the arts.  ARCA is hopeful that Canada Council will remain attentive to changes that are led and driven by artistic research and practice. The “change” agenda includes an overhaul of the operating grants program as a means to better respond to the growing number of applicants in a context of stagnating, if not diminishing budgets. Adjustments of up to 20% will be made during the next application cycle with no notification, while some centres will see significant increases.

In a subsequent meeging with the Visual Arts section, ARCA reiterated how operating grants are increasingly taxed by the progressive attrition of one-off project grants, supplements and access to other programs such as Inter-Arts. ARCA also asks how jury members will be informed and guided in responding to the new “change” and “engagement” agendas during the next evaluation cycle. Although ARCA understands Council’s predicament, ARCA does not believe that it offers a solution and will enquire further into this decision.

The Flying Squad program is under review presumebly because of the confidential nature of the consultations, which made an evaluation of the results impossible… ARCA communicated that one the shortcoming of the program was rather not offering support to implement the consultants’ recommendations. A letter has since been sent to the Director, in the absence of a VA Head, (as you may already know, Doug Sigurdson has just recently retired) asking for more information on the evaluation process.

Concerning the fund for Access to International Markets by ARCs, nothing has yet been determined and will be the object of future consultation.

In conclusion, ARCA once again signaled the growing disparity that exists between the Media arts and visuals arts sections, especially in regards to equipment acquisition, touring and project grants.

ARCA is grateful to the Canada Council for its support and looks forward to collaborating on exploring alternative solutions to the present state of chronic underfunding of the arts and improve the conditions of artists and workers in all artist-run centres. The opinions expressed in the present post are those of ARCA and do not thoroughly reflect the policies of Canada Council for the Arts. In the absence of a clear communications from CCA, ARCA strongly recommends that individuals contact their respective officers for more information.

Read NASO meeting report (PDF)