Montréal, March 22, 2017 — The Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference (ARCA) infers that Minister Morneau’s budget has honoured year 2 of his government’s five-year commitment to double the Canada Council for the Arts budget by 2021. This year’s increase of $75 million will bring Council’s budget to $257,347,387 million.
ARCA, however, is not entirely optimistic that this investment will alleviate the precarity of all artist-run centres and their workforce in the coming year. Based on CCA’s decision to invest heavily into project funding and much less in the core funding, stating that young artists are working differently, preferring the flexibility of lighter organizational models. What remains to be seen is how project funding will cover operating costs including wages, material resources and overhead over the longer term.
Wages in artist-run centres remain well below the Canadian average; without core funding, emerging organizations will struggle to provide stable employment for arts and arts management graduates, reflecting what Finance Minister Bill Morneau unfortunately referred to last fall as the “job churn — short-term employment and a number of career changes in a person’s life”.
The budget also refers to the development of an Intellectual property strategy for the coming year to ensure that “Canada’s intellectual property regime is modern and robust and supports Canadian innovations in the 21st century”. There’s no mention whether the IP strategy will also examine current copyright law and the challenges of cultural production in a digital environment nor address how artists will be able to earn a livelihood from royalties. Currently, artist-run centres with annual budgets averaging $175,000 pay minimum exhibition royalties of $1957.
In its press release, the Canadian Arts Coalition (CAC) highlights an investment of an additional $300 million over 10 years for the Cultural Spaces Fund on top of existing program resources of $30M annually. The fund is bolstered by an additional $120-million over four years (starting in 2018), on top of the $168-million invested in the first two years of the mandate. The government will also invest an additional $200-million over four years in transfer payments to the provinces to be used for cultural and recreational infrastructure.