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Report on Canada Council Strategic Plan Consultation

Part 1 - Stakeholder Discussions

October 16, 200716 October 2007

Arts funding & finances / State of the arts

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This report, prepared by Canada Council staff, summarizes discussions with four stakeholder groups: national arts service organizations; arts funders in other jurisdictions; young artists and arts administrators; and other selected organizations with an interest in the arts and in the Council’s work. Respondents commented on issues in the arts as well as items highlighted in a discussion paper prepared by Council staff. Approximately 300 individuals participated in the stakeholder discussions.

The national arts service organizations identified a number of success factors for the Council, including Council staff, national perspective and leadership (including an increased international role), artistic excellence, freedom of artistic expression, peer assessment and support to individual artists and to creation.

Two important elements of a national perspective on the arts were highlighted: an “understanding of artistic excellence in a national, comparative context” and “sensitivity to diversity in many forms – regional, cultural, linguistic, artistic practice, etc.”

All of the nine core values identified by the Canada Council in its discussion paper were considered relevant by the arts service organizations. Respondents also identified:

  • the value of human resources;
  • the need to maintain “the distinctiveness of Canadian artistic practice in the face of international pressures”;
  • “the economic sustainability of artistic practice and a ‘living wage’ for artists”;
  • increasing audiences and public engagement;
  • “open and sensitive collaboration with the artistic milieu”; and
  • transparency of process.

In addition to the five priorities outlined in the Council’s discussion paper (Aboriginal arts; capacity and adaptability in arts organizations; cultural diversity; dissemination and public engagement; and emerging practices), three priorities were suggested by arts service organization representatives:

  • minority francophone communities;
  • support for different regions, including rural areas; and
  • “defining the responsibilities of major arts organizations”.

Priority areas for additional resources, as identified by the arts service organizations, include individual artists, dissemination, operating support and public awareness. In addition, many specific disciplines were mentioned as priorities in the main consultation and separate disciplinary meetings.

Demographic and technological changes were highlighted as important factors in a long-term vision for the arts. The Canada Council was asked to maintain its arms-length relationship with government and to keep a focus on artistic excellence.

In meetings with other arts funders, key themes included partnership and the Council’s national role. The other funders noted that the Canada Council’s “investment in the arts is now easily surpassed by the combined investment made by the provinces and territories”. Other important issues that were raised in the meetings with other funders include the leadership role of the Canada Council, outreach and regional initiatives.

In nine consultation sessions with the “next generation of artistic leaders”, key elements identified by participants include:

  • the role of arts funders in supporting the creation of new work, helping artists find other sources of funding, facilitating networking opportunities and promoting the contributions of the arts in society;
  • access to programs (“the playing field for young Canadian artists and arts organizations is not equal”);
  • the importance of ongoing professional and artistic development, including business training;
  • mentorship and networking;
  • the grant application and selection processes, including improved funding categories and greater transparency; and
  • dissemination and promotion.

The report also highlights input from other organizations consulted. Issues discussed include the role and mandate of the Canada Council, the importance of public engagement and arts promotion, support systems for the arts and increased partnerships.

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