Simpleposie and many others are petitioning the Canada Council in protest against their changes to the individual artists' grants. There is a really compelling and articulate letter against the new mandate written by PAARC, (Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres), that serves as an excellent rallying cry. I read through the near-report at the CC website a couple of weeks ago, and found myself puzzled rather than outraged. I heard by gossip that the new agenda is intended to redirect funds in order to serve senior artists who are retiring from teaching positions, etc. I have NO IDEA if this is true, and if it is... I have NO IDEA if that is a good or a bad thing. I am also supremely curious, the gossip aside, to know: are there any artists out there who like the proposed changes? Knowing that the council has recently instituted a grant for private, commercial galleries(!), and knowing that current political trends indicate a solid retreat from socialism, I would venture a guess that the new proposal is not great news for the average-artist-on-the-street. As AARCO says in their open letter: " One of the dangers in their new proposal is the shift in the focus of granting criteria, away from creative process towards market-certified product." This sounds baaaad to me. But is it the only perspective? At the same time, "The Canada Council for the Arts has called on Canadians to send all levels of government a clear message about the positive impact the arts have on their communities," due to "advocacy [being] needed to promote value of arts." I think we gotta shit or get off the pot on this business of articulating the value of our practice. And somehow I don't feel qualified to sign that petition just yet. What does everybody else think?
Sally, thanks for bringing this up and voicing my own very similar puzzlement! I had read CC's report as well as Chris' back when they were first posted, but I've been unsure about it all. Now I've just read the PAARC letter and I think I would agree with everything in it. Still, I'd also like to hear from other Canadian artists as to what they think.
I talked at some length today with two seasoned art-funding types. One agreed with the changes and one didn't. The one who disagreed said something like (and I heavily paraphrase): "The two most sacrosant things about CC funding ought to be money for creation and peer assessment. These core prinicples are now in jeopardy." The one who agreed said, "For years artists have been asking for help with promotions, money for catalogues, more support for exhibitions. This is a fair response." I'd like to hear from other people too. If you are reading this and are nervous about chiming in, remember: you can post anonymously!
What about a choice of project grants as we've had up til now, or exhibition grants for the artists who 'have been asking for help with promotions, money for catalogues, more support for exhibitions'?
I dunno sal, When I got the PAARC letter I thought it made sense and I agreed but then I also know of a great many artists who waste their grants on toys and dare I say bad art. All in all it is complicated but I think I'm for the changes. People and espically artists HAVE to begin to accert their views and really take a look at what it was people fought for when they created the CC and what it should be doing now. After the US elections everyone on the left has been saying that they didn't loose anything, infact now they have a very clear enemy and people are pissed off. Maybe the CC took two steps forward so we could ask them to take a step back (of course they'd still be a step ahead of us).
Well, it is pretty cool that the government currently supports the creation of art through grants without specific expectations on the outcome. It's a sign of investment in culture at a really root level. And in the arm's length process it is an ever-changing jury of artists that decides what/who gets funding, not a government agenda. These are special and precious things, and they are worth defending. At the same time, we need to be aware that "Canada Council Director John Hobday said current levels of public funding to the arts are inadequate to sustain the enormous artistic growth that has taken place in Canada over the past half-century." Seems like the whole thing is somewhat fragile and not to be taken for granted. Also, there isn't enough $$ to take care of all the artists who want/need it. No matter how it gets re-arranged.
There are several problems with the proposed changes. I am in agreement with the PAARC letter, and here are two practical problems that I see.
Holy cow, just did some number crunching (my mathimatically challenged head hurts), and according to my calculations the new grant structure doesn't add up. In fact it seems to offer an 'elite' few scads of cash while the rest are left to fight over peanuts. According to the grant recipiants stats on the CC website 108 people received grants over $10,000 in 2003. In the new proposal only 75 people (per year i'm assuming) will receive a maximum of $10,000. A mere 15 people will receive a juicy $50,000 for up to 3 years (renewed annually after assessment of progress report). O.K. maybe i'm stunned but I think that means 15 people will make $50,000 per year for three years while those that are rejected for three years (way more than 15) get penilized. Hmm, talk about art funding imitating life! Well i suppose 100 brand new artists will get $5000./year, but only if they have a confirmed solo exhibition. I got tired of counting so i don't know if that is better than 2003 but it sure smells fishy to me.
"talk about art funding imitating life!" ... holy cow that's funny. And sad. My question is: have those 15 people been doing any lobbying lately? Thanks for doing the numbers, Nobody. I'm definitely starting to get convinced now that I liked the CC better the old way. In all seriousness I wonder ... what is behind the idea that smaller numbers of more established artists will get more money? But even if there is some kind of structural rationale that comes from the art community, 15 people is ridiculous. I can count 15 established artists living within 4 blocks of me, for heaven's sake.
My question is: have those 15 people been doing any lobbying lately?
I do know for a fact that one of those 15 artists, that lives near Sally, was invited to one of the closed door consultations with the CC. He told me that ALL THE ARTISTS in the group objected to the new Senior level funding structure. Their argument being that the competition is so tight that they'd rather have more chances at a smaller piece of the pie.
Cool! I mean, not cool, but cool information. I'm totally convinced now and I'm off to sign the petition.
CARFAC, Canadian Artists' Representation/le front des artistes canadiens, has responded extremely negatively to the proposed grant changes. CARFAC strenuously objects to the shift away from the Council's support of artistic creation to an apparently market certified model, and do not feel that the grants as proposed meet the needs of the Canadian artistic community. In addition, CARFAC rejects the shift in the emphasis in the jury process from artists peer assessors.
It's good to hear from you, CARFAC! Thanks for your perspective.
This may be a shift towards international trade realities- cultural commodities are on the table & needed for the exchange of other goods. Possbily Canada feels pressured by 'some' other country/countries to give over aspects of it's culture. Perhaps this wobble by CC is an attempt to align with Int Trade & Foreign Affairs + Heritage Canada & other Gov. interests abroad. Apparently it is so competitive that some countries have signed away their artists' moral rights as a trade item in exchange for other needed commodities.
"Possibly as people are cocooning more and more, staying at home, accessing the net for entertainment, not spending money on art - why bother - they have screensavers they have downloaded."
this might also have something to do with personal economy issues. as money continues to be funneled into the accounts of the wealthy few, fewer people have excess income to spend on extras such as art. as much as we believe that art products are necessary to society, in the economy of the individual, there are more basic needs to fill (not to mention that the largest audience for contemporary art is contemporary artists who'd rather spend their extra money on materials for making and showing their own work).
I think you're right that commercial concerns are in the forefront in this CC shift. afterall, the monied art buyers want to buy work that reflects their values. investment pieces by big names.
this shift to the commercial has been going on for some time with the proliferation of blockbuster show packages that grace our public galleries. witness, also, CC's insistance that ARCs show proof of supposed alternative funding initiatives within the private sector in their grant applications.
i am dumbfounded that the CC would fund commercial galleries. i don't even know how they can begin to justify that move.
aside - there are plenty of interesting, cutting edge projects online. computer art is not just for screensavers anymore (although a screensaver project would be really cool!)