Canada Council announces plans for new funding

03 January 2002, Canada

Ottawa, 18 December 2001 - The Canada Council for the Arts today announced its plans for the distribution of $75 million in new funding over the next three years. The increase to the Council's parliamentary appropriation was announced by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Canadian Heritage last spring as part of a three-year, $560 million infusion of funding to arts and culture, and reiterated in last week's federal budget. Last year, the Council awarded some 5,700 grants totalling more than $105 million to artists and arts organizations in 500 communities across Canada, as well as nearly $8.7 million in payments to authors under the Public Lending Right program (PLR). The new funds will boost the Council's direct support to artists and arts organizations by more than $23 million in each of the three years, beginning with the current fiscal year ending March 31. "If there is one central theme for the use of this new money, it's capacity-building," said Canada Council Director Shirley L. Thomson. "Enhancing the capacity of artists and arts organizations not only to create, produce and perform, but also to disseminate and market their work so it can be seen, heard and enjoyed by more and more people. In the case of arts organizations, we are also talking about helping them strengthen their organizational competencies, so they are better prepared to face the future." "The new money will also provide the Council with an opportunity to actively pursue a number of other key objectives: for example, promoting cultural diversity, Aboriginal arts and arts activities aimed at young audiences." Dr. Thomson said. "And we want to help artists and arts organizations strengthen their links with the communities in which they live and work and forge new connections with audiences in Canada and internationally." Dr. Thomson said the decision to increase support to the Canada Council "is a testament to the federal government's recognition of the important contribution artists make to Canadian society and their confidence in the Canada Council." The Canada Council Board has approved the distribution of the new grant money for both the current fiscal year and 2002-2003. Allocations for the 2003-2004 fiscal year will be reviewed by the Board next year. Highlights of the new funding include: An increase of $14.1 million per year in support to arts organizations, including theatre and dance companies, music ensembles and organizations, art galleries and artist-run centres, film and video cooperatives and book publishers. The additional funding will be used to support arts organizations that demonstrate leadership in their disciplines, with a view to encouraging capacity building (i.e. development of administrative and organizational competencies), consolidation of young audience and education activities and the creation of Canadian work. The Council will also expand its Flying Squad program, which gives performing arts organizations an opportunity to hire consultants to provide advice and assistance on administration and capacity-building issues, and provide additional funding for touring and other activities linking arts organizations with audiences. An increase of $7.4 million per year in support to individual artists in the various artistic disciplines, including an additional $1 million per year to the Public Lending Right program, which makes annual payments to authors for the presence of their books in Canadian libraries. The additional funding will mean an increase in the number of individual artists receiving grants, new $40,000 fellowships aimed at established artists in all disciplines, an increase in the number and value of travel grants and more money for commissioning and residencies, to improve connections between artists and audiences. The number of grant applications to the Council from individual artists has risen by nearly 30 per cent over the past five years. Of the $23 million in new grant funding, $2 million per year will be earmarked for projects which bring together artists and the broader community. A significant proportion of this money will go to youth- and/or education-oriented projects. $1.6 million will also be invested this year in the Council's Strategic Initiatives Fund, which supports special Council-initiated arts activities and projects. Support to Aboriginal artists and/or arts organizations will increase by more than $800,000 this year, including increases to the Aboriginal Peoples' Collaborative Exchange Program and Aboriginal programs in dance, theatre and media arts. Additional funds will also be put into the hiring of four new Aboriginal arts officers - including one who speaks Inuktitut - so that all disciplines have an officer dedicated to Aboriginal arts and to allow the Council to strengthen its links with artists in the Canadian Arctic. Support for Aboriginal artists and arts organizations is one of the Council's strategic priorities: between 1996-97 and 2000-2001, support for Aboriginal arts increased by more than 500 per cent. An additional $1.5 million will be spent on reinforcing culturally-diverse arts organizations. The Council's Outreach Office, which assists artists in seeking out new audiences and markets at home and abroad, will receive an additional $1 million per year as a result of the new funding. A portion of the new money will be used for grants, while the remainder will go to such Outreach services as workshops and showcases. Most of the new funding will be divided among the various artistic disciplines based on specific priorities within each discipline. Highlights include: Dance A significant proportion of the new funding will go toward infrastructure development: helping dance organizations meet the demand for national and international touring, seek out additional sources of revenue, and enhance the presence of professional dance artists in Canadian communities. As well, a Dance and Media Pilot Program initiative will contribute to increased visibility of dance in Canada and abroad. Media Arts The new money will allow the Media Arts Section, which supports artists and arts organizations working in film, video, audio and new media, to increase its funding for festivals, projects aimed at reaching new audiences - including youth - and international co-presentations. It will increase support to individual media artists in response to the rapid growth in the use of media by young people and experienced artists, and will invest new funds in a two-year pilot project which will allow exhibitors and festivals to commission work from media artists. Particular attention will be given to commissioning work aimed at young people, diverse cultural communities, and Aboriginal audiences. Music Priority will be given to increasing support for Canadian "new music", which includes both contemporary classical music and a broad spectrum of innovative musical genres, and touring by music ensembles - in jazz, folk, world, classical and new music -- in Canada and abroad. The new resources will also allow the Music Section to better serve emerging musicians, who represent the largest group of individual applicants for music grants. Theatre The Theatre Section will further enhance its support for the operations of theatre companies and other theatre organizations and respond to a growing interest in the performance of Canadian works in Canada and abroad by increasing funding for dissemination - including touring, international co-productions and translation of Canadian works. The Theatre section will also augment its Flying Squad program, which supports organizational development, to include professional development activities for theatre organizations' directors and managers. Visual Arts The Visual Arts Section will reinforce its support to art museums/public galleries and artist-run centres, with a view toward encouraging and promoting international activities, audience development, youth and educational programs, and commissioning of work. It will also significantly increase its efforts to support the development and advancement of architecture in Canada, and provide more funding for individual artists. It will also launch a new International Residencies Program, which will provide an opportunity for Canadian artists to pursue creative and professional development activities at visual arts institutions in Paris, New York, and Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Writing and Publishing The Writing and Publishing section will enhance its support for Canadian book publishers to assist them to face the challenges posed by the ongoing transformation of the publishing sector. This will include block (operating) grants, grants for emerging publishers, translation grants, promotional tours, and grants for art books. It will also invest additional funds in support for the cooperative projects of writers and publishers - aimed at encouraging more effective promotion of Canadian books - literary and arts magazines, and grants for individual writers, literary readings and festivals, including an increase in reading fees for writers from $200 to $250 per reading. The Council supports about 3,500 literary readings across Canada, and this is the first time reading fees have increased in 20 years. Inter-Arts The Inter-Arts program, which supports work which combines or transcends traditional artistic disciplines as well as performance art and new artistic practices, will increase its support to individual artists and arts organizations. Funding to multidisciplinary arts festivals will also be increased.