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Analysis of Responses to the Online Survey Report on Canada Council’s Strategic Plan Consultation

Executive Summary of the Online Survey Report

October 16, 200716 October 2007

Arts funding & finances / State of the arts

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This report and the accompanying Executive Summary, prepared by Hill Strategies Research, provide an analysis of the 1,182 responses to the Canada Council’s online survey regarding its strategic plan. The responses were received in May and June 2007.

Respondents were asked to comment on the Canada Council’s support for the arts, fundamental values and priorities. Respondents came from all 13 provinces and territories, as well as a number from outside Canada. In terms of language, 994 responses were submitted in English and 188 in French.

Respondents largely had strong ties to the arts community: nearly one-half of respondents identified themselves as a “professional artist or arts professional”. Other common responses include member of an arts organization (23% of respondents), arts attendee (13%), and arts patron (7%).

Five trends in the broad environment of the arts were identified by the Canada Council in its discussion paper: demographic and social change; changes in public attitudes and society at large; changes in the arts community; changes in governments and among public sector arts funders; and changes brought about by internationalism/globalization. Respondents identified some additional trends, most commonly the decline of arts education and technological changes.

Responses were generally positive with regards to the activities and role of the Council. Almost all respondents indicated that a national arts council is important. Similarly, there was significant support for the nine core values identified by the Canada Council. Respondents also made frequent mention of some themes that were also highlighted in the report on the stakeholder discussions:

  • freedom of artistic expression;
  • artistic excellence;
  • support for artists;
  • independent, non-commercial focus of public funding;
  • arm’s length funding and peer review;
  • the importance of art; and
  • Canada / Canadian identity.

Important issues for Canada Council leadership, as identified by the survey respondents, include:

  • advocacy;
  • the role of the arts in society;
  • improving the situation of artists;
  • support for creation, innovation, research and experimentation;
  • international activities;
  • arts education; and
  • support of excellence.

When asked what the Council could do to improve its support of the arts, not surprisingly, one theme emerged as an overwhelming favourite – obtain and distribute more money.

A majority of respondents agreed with the five priorities outlined by the Canada Council in its discussion paper: Aboriginal arts; capacity and adaptability in arts organizations; cultural diversity; dissemination and public engagement; and emerging practices. When asked about the importance of each of the priorities, respondents gave all priorities significant support, with about three-quarters or more of respondents indicating that each of the five priorities is either “important” or “very important”.

However, a number of respondents agreed with the priorities but indicated that the proof would be in the actions taken by Council. Additional priorities that were commonly mentioned include:

  • improving the situation of artists;
  • arts education and youth audiences;
  • artistic excellence;
  • gender equity;
  • age or intergenerational equity;
  • support for established artists;
  • disability arts;
  • support for regional and rural artists and groups; and
  • support for minority-language artistic activity, especially Francophones outside Quebec.

Many respondents provided input into a long-term vision for the Canada Council that would incorporate key themes such as improving the situation of artists, the value of arm’s length funding and peer assessment, artistic excellence, and many other themes outlined previously.

A more detailed analysis of responses is provided in the full report and the accompanying Executive Summary.

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