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National Director’s Blog

This morn­ing the CCA issued a press release titled, The Cana­dian Con­fer­ence of the Arts closes its doors after 67 years. I don’t need to tell you how dif­fi­cult it has been to write those words down and how we have tried our best not to express them. But there comes a moment when real­ity stares down the most hope­ful out­look on things.

It is seven years to the day that I was given the job of National Direc­tor of the CCA. Dur­ing these years I have devel­oped the great­est of respect for this orga­ni­za­tion and the incred­i­ble con­tri­bu­tion it has made to the devel­op­ment of cul­tural poli­cies at the fed­eral level. How many times, par­tic­u­larly over the past two years, have I heard peo­ple say that if we did not have the CCA, we would have to invent it? Over the last 18 months we have enthu­si­as­ti­cally embraced the chal­lenge set before us by the government’s deci­sion to put an end to 47 years of fund­ing. We attempted to rein­vent the organ­i­sa­tion as an autonomous body, but as our Chair Kath­leen Sharpe says in her let­ter, we would have needed two years of fund­ing to tran­si­tion to this new model, rather than the brief six months that we were given.

There were moments of great hes­i­ta­tion as to the mer­its of con­tin­u­ing our work, to go for­ward on the basis of com­mit­ments received to date and encour­ag­ing signs from our mem­bers, who con­firmed that we were on the right track by renew­ing their mem­ber­ships. Wouldn’t the sim­ple act of giv­ing up kill the pos­si­bil­ity of suc­ceed­ing against all odds? But when we stepped back and con­sid­ered our chances of con­tin­u­ing past March 2013, it became appar­ent to the Board as well as the sec­re­tariat that it would be irre­spon­si­ble to risk the funds that had been col­lected from pub­lic and pri­vate sup­port­ers to date. We con­cluded that the best we could do in the cir­cum­stances would be to leave the organ­i­sa­tion in order, in a sus­pended state, in the hopes that a group ready to take on the chal­lenge of re-launching this unpar­al­leled instru­ment in the arts, cul­ture and her­itage sec­tor would emerge.

We remain con­vinced the Cana­dian cul­tural sec­tors need an organ­i­sa­tion like the CCA. We’re talk­ing about a role as con­venor, observer, and ana­lyst of the major cul­tural issues at the national level. In the chang­ing envi­ron­ment we find our­selves in, the Cana­dian cul­tural sec­tor needs to pull together, to come out of our soli­tude, to iden­tify com­mon inter­ests, and to develop strate­gies to pur­sue them. The team that you know is with­draw­ing, but we are leav­ing you with what you need in order that you may pick up the torch, in new con­di­tions, like the phoenix ris­ing from the ashes.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take mea­sures to make this tran­si­tion pos­si­ble and to pre­serve cer­tain key projects like the annual fed­eral bud­get analy­sis that the CCA has been pub­lish­ing for more than 20 years. We are putting an agree­ment in place with the Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa so that our provin­cial and ter­ri­to­r­ial bud­get analy­ses from the per­spec­tive of the arts, cul­ture and her­itage project, which we were aim­ing to pub­lish in Jan­u­ary, sees the light of day and, if pos­si­ble, con­tin­ues in the future. We will be mov­ing our impor­tant doc­u­ments to the National Archives, which already holds much of our his­tory since 1945. We will put in place a board of gov­er­nors that will become the guardians of the organisation’s legacy.

We leave behind a glo­ri­ous his­tory, but also a promis­ing future, as long as some­one is will­ing and able to take up our work. It is this hope and desire for the sec­tor that makes our depar­ture less dif­fi­cult. The cul­tural sec­tor is one of cre­ativ­ity and inven­tion: I have con­fi­dence that you will recre­ate a space that reflects you and brings you together in the future, a place that belongs to you com­pletely, immune to the vagaries of pol­i­tics, and over which you will be the proud champions.

To close, I salute you, and thank you all. This has been a great moment in my life, to work with you all, pas­sion­ate, cul­tured people!






Alain Pineau


  1. Joyce Millar says:

    A very sad day and a great loss to Canada and the cul­tural com­mu­nity. The CCA has been the voice and cham­pion of all of us and they deserve our heart­felt thanks for being there for the last 47 years.
    Let’s hope that we can all find a way to bring back this vital resourse for Cana­dian cul­ture. The first step is to hold the Harper gov­ern­ment account­able. This gov­ern­ment obvi­ously has a very dan­ger­ous lack of respect for our cul­tural insti­tu­tions — and no vision for the future. Very sad indeed!

  2. Norm Hamilton says:

    So dis­ap­point­ing to see the art and cul­tural sec­tor con­tinue to be under siege. The ser­vices and integrity of The Cana­dian Con­fer­ence of the Arts will be sorely missed.

  3. Graham Kelsey says:

    Un jour des plus tristes. I have admired your work since the early 1980s when my involve­ment with SSFC and CFH intro­duced me to it. I have been an indi­vi­ual mem­ber for the past sev­eral years and even though I am remotely located in BC’s inte­rior would be happy to help in any way I can in the­for­ma­tion and sup­port of a suc­ces­sor organization.

  4. Lynne Toupin says:

    Désolé d’apprendre cette mau­vaise nou­velle. C’est une grande perte pour le secteur cul­turel et aussi pour le secteur à but non lucratif dans son ensemble.

  5. Anne-Marie Samson says:

    Quelle tristesse… Il ne nous reste qu’à espérer un front com­mun du milieu des arts et de la cul­ture pour défendre l’existence de la CCA et trou­ver une solu­tion pour la remet­tre sur les rails, autrement. Je félicite l’équipe qui s’est démenée jusqu’à la fin et a tenté par tous les moyens d’empêcher la fer­me­ture. Pub­lic, organ­ismes, artistes, inter­venants cul­turels: que pouvons-nous faire, ensem­ble ? Des solu­tions créa­tives à l’horizon ?

  6. Jann LM Bailey says:

    The clo­sure of Cana­dian Con­fer­ence of the Arts is MAJOR loss for arts advo­cacy in this coun­try. The staff and Board of Trustees of the Kam­loops Art Gallery salute your dili­gence in try­ing to keep the doors open to this vital organization.

    Jann LM Bai­ley Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Kam­loops Art Gallery

  7. myrna kostash says:

    When I stepped down from the Board of Direc­tors of the CCA (a rather long time ago), I was hon­oured with a life­time mem­ber­ship in the CCA. In my heart, I will always be a mem­ber of the CCA.


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