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CCA President’s Blog – All together now!

April 23, 2012
After months of silence, we finally know where we stand: the federal government has confirmed officially it will put an end to 46 years of funding to the Canadian Conference of the Arts by March 31, 2013. The good news is: we can count on some transition funding. We trust that Minister Moore’s decision to grant final funding to the CCA is an acknowledgment of the pertinence of our business plan and of our serious intent to transform the organisation. I won’t deny however that we are disappointed with the final decision, as our plan called for transitional support over two years in order to allow the changes to take place in a more orderly fashion. The challenge ahead of us will put enormous pressure on board and staff to accelerate the implementation of the new business model and to generate new forms of earned revenue in a very short period of time. And this will not be possible without your commitment to do it with us.

From the moment we heard after the May 2011 election of the government’s intention, we have embraced the idea that the CCA had to become independent and different in order to better deliver its unique mandate. We at the CCA, staff and board, all remain firm in our resolve to do everything possible to start the implementation of the five-year business plan developed with your input over the past year.

Why are we so resolved to move forward? Because we believe that all of us in the Canadian cultural sector are at a crossroad in our history. Deep transformations in our environment challenge our adaptability. The combined effects of technology, the economy, changing demographics, policy changes and the emergence of new players affect the support mechanisms we have put in place over the past 60 years. Not to mention that arts and culture are still widely considered a luxury in our country, their support too often threatened with budget cuts by all levels of government.

Let’s not be under any illusion about Minister Flaherty’s budget. While it protects the Canada Council (whose budget has not grown in the past six years and which must still absorb inflation), and while it contains positive measures for the heritage sector, the deep cuts to the CBC, Telefilm, the National Film Board and the changes in funding priorities we will discover over the coming months will have a major impact on our artists, our creators and our organizations.

Our sector is rich in creativity and diversity, but it is fragmented. In this context, we are convinced that we collectively need a focal point, a national forum where we can identify issues of common interest and plan strategies to pursue them, through research, programs, advocacy and communications. More than ever, we see the need for all of us to work in a coordinated fashion for the greater good of all.

Over the past year, the board and the staff of the CCA have worked hard to develop a detailed five-year business plan which over time would more than replace the funding received from Canadian Heritage. Since last November, our National Director has met with over 500 stakeholders during his tour of seventeen cities from Victoria to St.-John’s. This tour and the on-line consultation we have held have confirmed our conviction: a majority of us see the necessity and the advantages of working all together in a focused way. We now have a plan, it is ambitious and challenging, but we believe it can be realized.

We will pull out all the stops to see how we can implement our 2012-17 Business Plan. We fully realize that in difficult times, the reflex is to concentrate exclusively on one’s own survival, but we want to know if you share our belief that by working together, we can all be stronger in the pursuit of a healthy and vibrant cultural sector. I thank all of you who have already made concrete your support by renewing your membership. We now need to know if this conviction is shared by those who have not yet renewed and those who have indicated they were considering joining. In the coming weeks, we will be proposing different ways in which you can express your support.

To be completely frank, if you support the idea of a national voice for arts and culture in this country, now is the time to prove it. While the CCA board and staff are completely committed to the transformation of this historical organization, we cannot do it without your support – indeed, without it there is no reason to exist. While we are convinced we can generate enough earned revenue through memberships and other means, without any new funds the organization will not be able to stay in business for a full fiscal year. We have identified specific initiatives and targets that we are busy confirming over the next two months. With your renewed memberships and an aggressive beginning to the business plan, we will see the year out and be well positioned for next year. We hope you believe, as we do, that this is the time to act, to seize this opportunity regardless of the situation that has precipitated it.

I look forward to working with all of you to strengthen your voice!






Kathleen Sharpe