Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Canada Council unveils "radical" new 6-program funding model; details still to come


The Canada Council for the Arts today unveiled more of the framework of its new funding model, which will be rolled out in 2017. Details of such things as the application process will be released this fall. It is, if anything, more dramatically restructured than had been suggested, reducing the current 147 to just 6 national, non-disciplinary programs, at least some of which will bear directly on literary and cultural magazines which have traditionally relied upon operating and project funding from the writing and publishing section of the council. 

The new programs are (with definitions adapted from the council's statement)
  • Explore and create: “artists, collectives and organizations focused on research, development, exploration and innovation in the creation of new work advancing their art forms.”
  • Engage and sustain: “ supporting arts organizations in the production and presentation of ongoing, sustainable, high-quality artistic activities that engage the diversity of citizens within their communities and beyond.
  • Creating, Knowing and Sharing Aboriginal Arts: “ supports Aboriginal artistic and cultural expression and the vitality of Indigenous artists, artistic practices and communities." 
  • Renewing Artistic Practice: “supports innovation, collaboration, sustainability and adaptability in Canada’s professional arts sector." 
  • Arts Across Canada: “ encourages the dissemination of excellent Canadian art across the country for the benefit of as many Canadians as possible." 
  • Arts Abroad: “ supports the presentation and circulation of Canadian art and artists abroad."
More analysis and, doubtless, criticism will be heard in the days to come as the various interest groups and arts sectors weigh in, particularly when application details become known. 

Canada Council CEO Simon Brault has consistently and predictably put a positive spin on the changes he is leading (as he does in the video included above) but is blunt about what is driving them, particularly in light of major funding cuts in comparable jurisdiction such as Britian and Australia .
“I’m convinced that where we are now,” he says, “is a place of strength — but (we also) need to admit that the (present funding) model is almost exhausted.
“In Canada for different geopolitical and financial reasons, we have not been forced and we are not being told and forced by anyone to reinvent ourselves — so far. 
“But my view,” he adds, “is that we have a very short period of time to do it if we want to do it on our own terms — and that is a huge privilege. 
“That’s why I felt,” he says, “when I was appointed to that job, OK, let’s do it if we have the right conditions in a way that is well planned — but also quite radical.”
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