Harper cuts funding; Canadian Conference of the Arts closes after 67 years

Harper government cuts funding from the Canadian Conference of the Arts and refuses to provide time for it to become self-sufficient.

Ottawa (02 Nov. 2012) - In yet another attack on Canadian institutions and specifically the arts and culture community, the Cana­dian Con­fer­ence of the Arts (CCA), the largest national alliance of the arts, cul­ture and her­itage sec­tor across Canada, was forced to announce that it will begin wind­ing down its oper­a­tions imme­di­ately.

Founded in 1945 by a group of emi­nent artists, includ­ing painters Lawren S. Har­ris, of the Group of Seven, and André Biéler, the CCA has the unique man­date in the Cana­dian cul­tural sec­tor of pro­mot­ing the inter­ests of Cana­dian artists and of the cul­tural sec­tor at large at the fed­eral level, and of pro­vid­ing a national forum where issues of com­mon inter­est can be dis­cussed and pur­sued. The name of the CCA has been asso­ci­ated with all major cul­tural pol­icy devel­op­ments at the fed­eral level, from the cre­ation of the Canada Coun­cil for the Arts in 1957 to the UNESCO Con­ven­tion on the Pro­tec­tion and Pro­mo­tion of the Diver­sity of Cul­tural Expres­sions in 2005.

A year and a half ago, the CCA became aware of the Harper government’s inten­tion to put an end to 47 years of fund­ing. The CCA informed the Depart­ment of Cana­dian Her­itage right from the begin­ning that it embraced the chal­lenge of mak­ing the CCA finan­cially autonomous, but that in order to do so, it would require a min­i­mum of two years of tran­si­tional fund­ing to imple­ment a new busi­ness model. The CCA held a series of nation-wide pub­lic and pri­vate con­sul­ta­tions, received unequiv­o­cal sup­port for the rel­e­vance of its man­date and devel­oped a com­pre­hen­sive and ambi­tious 2012–2017 Busi­ness Plan. How­ever, in mid-April, the CCA was informed that the gov­ern­ment had lim­ited its assis­tance to six months of fund­ing, clearly an enor­mous hur­dle for the orga­ni­za­tion to over­come. Despite con­sid­er­able efforts and early pos­i­tive results, the Board of Gov­er­nors of the CCA has come to the con­clu­sion that it is impos­si­ble to achieve the objec­tives of the new busi­ness model in less than two years. The Board con­sid­ers that it would be irre­spon­si­ble to risk the money gen­er­ously offered to the CCA so far: it has there­fore decided to cease oper­a­tions imme­di­ately and to put the orga­ni­za­tion in a state of sus­pen­sion, in the hope that in the not too dis­tant future oth­ers will pick up the torch and re-launch this unique instru­ment for the good of the Cana­dian cul­tural sector.

CCA Chair Kath­leen Sharpe states, “The CCA leaves a proud legacy. I would like to con­grat­u­late the Board and staff for their rig­or­ous and aggres­sive approach to imple­ment and sus­tain a new busi­ness model. Despite our best efforts, tran­si­tional sup­port of six months was not enough and we have sim­ply run out of time to develop new rev­enue streams. But we depart know­ing we planned well for such an out­come.” National Direc­tor Alain Pineau adds, “The past seven years have been the most chal­leng­ing and excit­ing ones of my pro­fes­sional life. This was not the way I was hop­ing to end my time with the CCA, but I leave know­ing that all of us at the Sec­re­tariat have given every­thing we had to make this tran­si­tion a suc­cess. I can only hope that some­one else will pick up the chal­lenge. The Cana­dian cul­tural sec­tor needs and deserves a CCA if it is to be effec­tive and thrive.”

The CCA is another in a long list of defunded programs and organizations that have a long history of helping to create a vibrant, democratic country. Since being elected in 2006, Prime Minister Harper has shown a consistent pattern of anti-democratic behaviour.

More information:

Harper's Demoratic Deficit


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