Wednesday, May 18, 2005

More stuff on the Canada Council


On first glance, it appear as if I have been whispering during a thunderstorm. I've made my views known about the proposed changes to the way the Canada Council funds the Visual Arts.

In chronological order:
1. Goin' to California, March 23, 2004 (small bit towards the bottom)
2. Talkin' 'bout the Canada Council, July 9, 2004 (pretty much my opinion in a nutshell, everything else that follows is detail work)
3. More on the Canada Council for the Arts, November 2, 2004 (notes from a public meeting with the Canada Council folk)
4. More and more on the proposed changes to the Canada Council, November 23, 2004 (Other people start taking action, and a discussion starts on the internet)
5. Why exhibiting is good, November 24, 2004 (tangential stuff bolstering ideas)
6. Is the horse dead yet? November 25, 2004 (after a flurry of emails all over the place I express some frustration)
7. National Consultations with Visual Artists - updated, February 4, 2005 (simplistic statistical analysis, and a snarky comment)
8. Getting things right in interviews (or thanks Kevin Temple!) February 7, 2005 (where I take full advantage of my soapbox and spew)

Well, this morning I get this nice little email from the good folk at the Canada Council (for those of you not on their mailing list here it is)
-----Original Message-----
From: sarah.colautti@canadacouncil.ca
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 09.24
To: ims.util@canadacouncil.ca
Subject: New Visual Arts program will support independent creation, career development

For immediate release

New Visual Arts program will support independent creation, career development

Ottawa, May 18, 2005 – The Canada Council for the Arts has approved a new program that changes the way grants are awarded to visual artists, while at the same time continuing its tradition of support for independent artistic research and creation. The new program will also, for the first time, provide two-year grants to allow Canadian visual artists to develop their art and careers.

The new program was approved following extensive consultations with artists across the country. It contains significant changes from a previous proposal that would have directly linked all creation grants to a confirmed exhibition. The new, more flexible program will allow artists to choose what kind of support they most need at different moments during their career.

“The most important thing that we learned during the consultations is that artists want the Council to continue to support independent research and creation, regardless of whether an exhibition has been confirmed,” said François Lachapelle, head of the Canada Council’s Visual Arts section. “Important revisions were made to the original proposal following feedback from the community.”

Mr. Lachapelle said the Council decided to revise its existing program, which was developed in the 1960s, in an effort to respond to the many and diverse opportunities and challenges that visual artists have today.

“When the program was first established, the focus was largely on supporting creation because we needed to develop a Canadian visual arts identity. Today, a growing number of Canadian artists have developed international careers,” Mr. Lachapelle said. “The new program is both more flexible and more targeted to assisting artists at important moments in their creation, research, production or career development.”

The new program of Assistance to Professional Visual Artists will have two main components: Project Grants that provide support on a project basis, and Long-Term Grants, that provide support over a two-year period.

Under “Project Grants”, the Council will support four types of projects:
Research/Creation: Grants of up to $20,000 to allow for a period of independent research at a key moment in the artist’s artistic development. There is no requirement for a confirmed exhibition.
Production: Financial support (up to $20,000) for the production costs of one or more works for at least one confirmed exhibition in a professional context.
Career development: Up to $20,000 in support for an artist’s professional development and/or for the development of the artist’s relationships with a network of partners who would have an impact on his or her career, including art critics, curators, dealers and publishers.
Travel: To respond to invitations for public presentation outside the country or in Canada with a professional presenter not already funded by the Canada Council. (Up to $2,500).

The two-year Long-Term Grants will provide grants of $40,000 each year. Eligible artists will have at least three years of exceptional professional practice and expect to have a series of opportunities for the next two years in the fields of research, creation, independent production, the production of a confirmed exhibition, or career development. Emerging, mid-career and established visual artists will be eligible for the Long-Term Grants as well as the Project Grants.

In addition to the consultations with artists, the new program was reviewed by an advisory committee consisting of artists Kent Monkman (Toronto), Shelley Ouellet (Calgary), Eric Walker (Ottawa), Hank Bull (Vancouver), Marlene Creates (Portugal Cove, NL) and Stéphanie Béliveau (Montreal). The revision also took place in consultation with CARFAC, the national service organization representing Canadian visual artists, all other national visual arts service organizations, as well as provincial arts funders across the country.

“We were pleased with the response we received to the revised proposal, as we have been able to deal with the main concerns that were raised during the consultations,” Mr. Lachapelle said. He said the new program will be evaluated in two years’ time.

The first deadline for the Project Grant component of the new program (excluding travel grants) will be Dec. 1, 2005, while the first deadline for Long-Term Grants will be September, 2006. There will be four deadlines per year for travel grant applications.

Information sessions
The Canada Council’s Visual Arts Section will be holding a series of information sessions across the country to familiarize visual artists with the new program. Upcoming sessions include:

Ottawa/Gatineau: Tuesday, May 24, 7 p.m., Daïmõn, 78 Hanson St., Gatineau
Toronto: Wednesday, May 25, 7 p.m., The Great Hall, 1087 Queen Street W.
Vancouver: Monday, May 30, 7 p.m., Emily Carr Institute theatre, 1399 Johnston Street
Montreal: Monday, June 6 (French-language session) and Tuesday, June 7 (English-language session), 7 p.m., Maison de la culture Côte-des-Neiges, 5290 Côte-des-Neiges Rd.
Saskatoon: Wednesday, June 8, 7pm, Mendel Art Gallery, 950 Spadina Crescent East

Other information sessions will be held later this year in:
Inuvik, NWT, during the Great Northern Arts Festival in July
Calgary and Edmonton in August
Moncton (two sessions: one English and one French), Regina, Winnipeg, Quebec City,
St. John’s and Halifax in September

More information on the new program and the consultation process is available on the Canada Council web site at www.canadacouncil.ca/visualarts.
As of 10 AM, they still hadn't updated their website to show anything, neither in the press release section, nor in the Visual Arts section. Although if anybody has better eyesight, or internet skillz than I do and knows where the stuff is hidden, please let me know.

First off, I urge you, if you are at all interested in this matter, to also read Simpleposie, Sally McKay, and GoodReads. I am certain that they will all have good and interesting thoughts on the matter, and you should never just rely on my opinion (although I do like it best, personally).

From a quick run through of the press release (as there ain't no other info elsewhere, yet) I'm of two minds about the changes to the changes. A) I like that they attempted to listen to the shouting started by the Quebecois Artists and then repeated throughout the country. For those who are concerned about matters like that, it is comforting to know that your voice can be heard. B) Unfortunately, as I was on the opposing side of the fence, I'm a tad disappointed that something I liked didn't get to see the light of day.

At some point I will hear from actual live artists and find out if they are disappointed as well in the changes to the changes, because it looks like this is a completely new and different version, with the significant factor being that there are no more "consultations." They've made the bed and now some people are going to have to sleep in it.

As they haven't released how many people are going to get each of the new grants, it is sorta tough to figure out what the potential shake up is going to look like (previously they had stated how many of each grant they were going to give out).

Then I'd like to know what publicity is going to follow the awarding of the Long-Term Grants, because if the Governor General's Awards toss of $15,000, and these give away $80,000 over two years (all figures in Canadian dollars) they better get more press than the awards, heck I'd expect at least as much foofaw as the Turner Prize, or at least the Beck's Futures.

Almost finally, I'm gonna need some time to do some research on Kent Monkman, Shelley Ouellet, Eric Walker, Hank Bull, Marlene Creates, and Stéphanie Béliveau. It appears that they have power far beyond what I would have initially guessed.

Then really and truly finally, why did the Canada Council only talk to CARFAC? If I had been in their shoes I would have spoken to RAAV, and PAARC directly. Given the current state of the nation, I'd be very surprised if one "National" organization was truly capable of speaking for every artist in the country. See you there on June 6 and 7.

[UPDATE: 1 PM, The Canada Council has something up and on line explaining some stuff to people who care.]
[UPDATE: May 27, More here 1, here 2, and here 3. And don't foget Simpleposie, either.]

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