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The members of the Visual Arts Alliance (VAA) met the morning February 18, in Ottawa, in advance of the annual National Arts Service Organization (NASO) meeting at the Canada Council for the Arts. In the last few months, the potential repercussions of the New Funding Model (NFM) announced in January 2015 by the Canada Council for the Arts have been the subject of much discussion. The VAA members salute Council’s objective to simplify the programs and allow for better access to artists and emerging groups, but many questions remain and Alliance members continue to press for more details. One of the ongoing, nagging question relates to the multi-year support so important for the long-term stability of organizations, and the pressure for new organizations to develop new business models that embrace project support. Even though VAA members are aware that the Council is still working out the details, members may disagree on whether or not the promise of frequent application deadlines and larger amounts of one-off project funding are a positive development or not. In response to questions submitted to CEO Simon Brault in advance by the NASO meeting planning committee, his vision for the future is unwavering: Arts service organizations will be expected to limit their role to the support of artistic practice and the promotion of art appreciation (rather than lobby Council for more funds!). Meanwhile, VAA members actively encouraged their members and the community at large to respond to Council’s survey launched to inform its new strategic plan for 2016-2021.
Alliance members are also interested in clarifying the Alliance’s relationship with Canadian Heritage, especially given the near absence of the visual and media arts and crafts from Heritage programs. The Alliance continues to press for an art market study as part of its long term research agenda, and shared desire to deepen our understanding of the visual arts, media arts and craft sector, and achieve funding parity with other disciplines. Recent announcements by the newly formed Standing committee on Heritage to undertake a study on small museums indicates a renewed interested in arts and culture by our government, which spells hope for the many individuals invested in supporting long neglected small museums. The initiative is a direct outcome of the Canadian Museums Day 2016 organized by the Canadian Museums Association (CMA).
The health and well-being of our sector is linked to the financial resources available to our community and the various agencies supporting it. This is why the Visual Arts Alliance is eagerly waiting for the federal budget and we trust that the new government will respect its engagement to increase the Canada Council’s parliamentary appropriation beginning this year.
Stay tuned for developments!
In the picture, from left to right: Clayton Windatt, Interim ED, ACC; Emmanuel Madan, ED, IMAA; Milly Ristvelt, RCA; Todd Janes, Chair, ARCA; Maegan Black, ED, CCF; Susan Took, Chair, Carfac National; Anne Bertrand, ED, ARCA; Marcia Lea, Interim ED, Carfac National; Lise Leblanc, ED, AGAVF; Moira McCaffrey, ED, CAMDO; Audrey Vermette, CMA. Absent from the picture: Peter Dykhuis, UCAGAC; Nicolle Nugent, Chair, CAGE; Liz Edwards, ED, ADAC; Christian Bédard, ED, RAAV.