FROM THE DESK OF Alain Pineau: Time for an update!
CCA Bulletin 31/11
November 15, 2011
How time flies! This fall is particularly busy for all of us: I’m not not sure exactly why, but it seems that everyone is running on an accelerating treadmill! So it is time again to keep you posted on a number of current files.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
Let’s start with the negotiations between Canada and the European Community. I participated in the briefing session organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade on October 28. The main issue concerning culture is the fact that Europeans are paying close attention to Copyright Bill C-11, now introduced by a majority government. This was to be expected the adoption of the bill is crucial to the discussion around intellectual property. While they are said to be generally satisfied with the bill, Europeans have made clear their concern with the broad exceptions included in C-11, notably related to education, which they would like to see. Copyright may become a sticky point in the negotiation which at the end, may have to be resolved at the political level.
Exchanges on investment rules have only just begun. Canadian chief negotiator Steve Verheul assured us that Canada has no intention of satisfying European requests for further liberalization of foreign ownership rules concerning telecommunications. This would mean that, given the high level of concentration in Canada, broadcasting would remain protected. Little was said about the Cultural Exemption except that the Europeans still find it too broad and would rather see it whittled down to the appropriate sections in the agreement. We are told, however, that Canada and Québec are standing firm on this issue, which will likely be resolved at the very end of the negotiations.
Finally, we learned that the negotiations are now moving to a new format as negotiators enter into the most difficult territory. They will hold continuous sessions in smaller groups, with a view to all get back together next February or March to take stock of the situation.
On November 3 and 4, I had the privilege once again of chairing Statistics Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Culture Statistics. The meeting started with a good humoured celebration of the release on October 24 of the Conceptual Framework for Culture Statistics. A thorough update of the 2004 Framework, the new framework outlines concepts and definitions for measuring culture in ways more relevant to the cultural community. This involves defining the boundaries of what we consider culture, as well as delineating the domains and sub-domains that make up the sector. As such, it is the cornerstone of a full revamping of culture statistics and it propels Canada once again as international leader in this field. I am glad to highlight the fact that the Framework was written by Marla Waltman Daschko, whom the CCA is proud to count as a member (I’m also proud to report that the CCA’s contribution is mentioned in the acknowledgements).
The main topic up for discussion was the redesign of the Surveys on Government Expenditures on Culture. The first step of this redesign is a feasibility study now funded through Statistics Canada’s Long Term Planning Project. Based on the new conceptual framework, the review’s objective is to reduce data gaps and increase both relevance and timeliness of the information gathered. The main issues concerned lottery funds, libraries, tax credits and tax exemptions, municipal data and arts education. Given the increasing role that municipalities play with regards to culture, those data were identified as of particular interest. Unfortunately, they are also the most difficult and expensive to collect!
Data from Surveys on Government Expenditures on Culture will eventually be input into the Culture Satellite Account, now in the third of four years of development, thanks to the close cooperation of the Department of Canadian Heritage and Statistics Canada. Once completed, the Culture Satellite Account will provide an invaluable tool to the Canadian cultural sector. It will allow the measurement of the economic impact of culture with significantly greater precision allow us to compare that impact to that of other industries and of other countries.
The future of the CCA
As mentioned in my last report, we are extremely busy with the development of a new business model for the CCA which would see us become financially independent from recurrent financial support from the federal government over the next three years. We will be holding an in-depth consultation in Montréal tomorrow, in Toronto next week and in Ottawa at the beginning of December.
Input will also be solicited from members and stakeholders in all provinces as well. On January 9, I will begin a tour of the country which will take me from Victoria to St. John’s by the end of February. Keep an eye out for your invitation to participate in this important initiative which will lead to the re-invention of the largest and oldest cultural organization in Canada. We need your input and your support to carry on the unique contribution we make to the vitality of the Canadian arts, culture and heritage sector.