Brief update on Canada Council

As already mentioned in previous communications, Canada Council is planning a review of its operating program across all disciplines. As part of this review process, and in order to allow emerging organisations greater access to operating funding, Council has directed each section to empower staff and juries to recommend adjustments of up to 20% without fair notice. In response to this announcement, ARCA sent the following letter to Anne Valois, the Director of Arts Disciplines Division, in the period during the absence of a Head of Visual Arts Section.

Another concern expressed by ARCA’s membership was the suspension of the Flying Squad program last May 2012. The following correspondance has been exchanged with Canada Council, asking to be consulted on the matter but has since not been convened. ARCA has since learned that although the Flying Squad program has been suspended, support for organisational development is maintained but in a form that will only be announced in June. Canada Council has discouraged the publication of our correspondance in favour of the following link.

A letter of congratulations was sent to the Head of Visual Arts, Sylvie Gilbert, who was recently appointed to replace Doug Sigurdson. The Visual Arts Alliance of which ARCA is a member, met with Madam Gilbert on Friday March 22nd, during which the question of regular adjustments was raised. The conversation was fruitful although no exact information was provided at this time. Madame Gilbert was asked to provide the “regular adjustment” policy at her earliest so that respective memberships could be informed.

ARCA has learned, mainly through recent articles published in Le Devoir, that the board of directors at Canada Council wishes to see more movement in the allocation of funds so as to allow emerging organisations greater access to operating funding. Although ARCA is well aware that many artist-run centres do not receive support from Canada Council, ARCA does not believe that reductions in funding of the more established centres is a viable long term solution. As a network, it is important to recognize the value of the more established centres in providing stable institutional models and relatively decent employment standards. ARCA requests that Council consider acknowledging the impact on artist-run centres in supporting graduates as they enter the professional stream, through internships and other temporary positions or exhibitions. This emerging work force and artists is competitive and deserving of support even as the founding members and next generation of cultural workers in arts organisations are aging. It is becoming evident that few of these workers will have the means to retire, remaining even longer in the workforce. Even as new programs are being offered at municipal and provincial levels in support of emerging organisations, they are often conditional on developing a business model to ensure sustainability through a diversification of revenues. It has become increasingly urgent to advocate for greater public support for the not-for-profit visual arts in order to avoid pitting generations of cultural workers and artists against each other toward a greater and more equitable sector.