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Policy, Politics and Funding

March 16, 200816 March 2008

Special Issue: Visual Arts Summit

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Participants perceived a disconnect between the burgeoning visual arts activity and the lack of awareness and limited funding from the municipal, provincial and federal levels. “Art is a societal project but not a government priority.” Is there a way of ensuring a cohesive approach (municipal, provincial and federal) to cultural policy and cultural diplomacy?

Two of the major issues discussed at the Summit were the lack of a national museums policy and the loss of cultural diplomacy funding. There is a need to “bring art to the local community and export it internationally”.

Many participants argued that the arts are a vital part of foreign diplomacy and trade. In fact, international issues were a topic of considerable discussion, including the need to raise the profile of the visual arts nationally and internationally. “It is sad but true that artists are better recognized at home once they have been recognized abroad.” One participant argued that Canadian artists are sometimes treated poorly at home and like royalty abroad. Another participant noted that, while Canadian new media artists are some of the highest profile artists internationally, few commercial galleries show new media works.

Other participants’ comments regarding policy, politics and funding include:

  • “Governments are currently inhibiting donations of artworks to museums.”
  • “Trade Routes funding is currently available, but for how long? It is not a stable, reliable source of funds.”
  • “The shutdown of the Exhibition Transport Service (ETS) in April 2008 will triple exhibition transport costs for galleries.”

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