In January of this year, the Canada Council embarked on a journey of renewal to remain a vibrant, responsive, and relevant organization in a rapidly changing world. They are now at an important milestone in that journey of renewal, namely the announcement of six new funding programs that will replace their current granting programs by 2017.
Unlike many arts funders around the world, which have had to restructure due to budget cuts and other external pressures, the Canada Council has undertaken this exercise proactively to respond to the changing needs of the Canadian arts sector.
A series of conversations and consultations with artists from every discipline and region have highlighted the complex and pressing challenges, and opportunities, related to the creation and sharing of art. These are the challenges and opportunities the Council hopes to address with the six new funding programs, and include:
1. The need to simplify and lighten their application processes.
2. Programs with strictly defined disciplines and genres are limiting for an increasing number of artists who work across disciplines. In the 21st century, with cultural lines of all kinds blurring in profound ways, and with a wide range of new practices emerging, practices no longer fit into traditional disciplinary categories. Instead they will establish a non-disciplinary approach to granting, based on artistic interventions, processes and impacts.
3. This is a pivotal moment in the long and troubled history between aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada. The Canada Council will break new ground by establishing an ambitious and culturally self-determined program dedicated to creating, knowing and sharing Aboriginal arts.
4. Facilitating the representation of Canadian artists in global networks, collaborations and exchanges. These can only enrich their practices and perspectives here at home, and ensure Canada is even more recognized worldwide for its creativity, excellence, diversity and innovation.
Says Simon Brault, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts, "Let me also emphasize that we are re-affirming, updating and integrating our core values into our new funding model. Our commitment to artistic excellence and peer assessment, our respect for and promotion of Canada’s official languages, our specific support for the languages, stories, traditions and contemporary arts practices of Aboriginal peoples, and our appreciation of the diversity and the practices of deaf, disabled and culturally diverse artists – these all remain at the heart of the model we’re building."
The new programs are the first step in a positive transformation to scale up the impact of all our actions and interventions. Everyone who is currently eligible for CC programs will also be eligible for the new programs, and the funding envelopes currently reserved for each discipline or priority, such as equity, will be the baseline for the new funding model. The transition between the many current disciplinary-based programs and the new simplified model will be carefully planned. It will be done smoothly, respecting funding commitments in place and the many needs of the artists and organizations that are currently clients, and in a way that welcomes the aspirations of a new generation, and hopefully for the next 10 years.
At a Glance: The New Funding Model
- From 147 to 6 programs
- More flexibility & impact
- Simpler, streamlined application process
- Non-discipline specific
When Will These Changes Come Into Effect?
- 2015-2016: Current programs still in effect
- Fall 2015: Release of program details
- 2016: Web-based grant application system
- 2017: Launch of programs