by James Adams
The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Canada’s oldest and largest arts advocacy organization, the Canadian Conference of the Arts, has decided to keep functioning, until mid-October at least, even as the Harper government has announced it is ending a 47-year tradition of federal support from Liberal and Conservative administrations for the organization.
Meeting this week in Ottawa, the membership and the board of the CCA, founded in 1945, “all endorsed the concept that we should not give up,” said CCA national director Alain Pineau in an interview. “There are enough positive signs coming our way to make it worth continuing,” including an application to an as-yet unnamed foundation for “a good injection of money” that, should it be approved this fall, “would greatly help our transition to a new business model.… We’re taking this in instalments, living sort of on a quarterly basis at first, hoping to go on a half-year basis next year.”
The CCA earlier had asked the federal government for $780,000 to ease the transition to being self-sustaining after “hearing unofficial reports” last summer that the Canadian Heritage department would be killing the Arts, Culture and Diversity Program under which the CCA had been funded to the tune of $390,000 a year. That amount represented 75 per cent of the CCA’s annual operating budget. In the wake of these reports, Pineau embarked on a tour of more than a dozen Canadian cities to meet with CCA members and other arts and culture groups to determine if the country still needed “an overarching association” like the CCA. Out of these consultations came the groundwork for a new business plan.
However in April, Canadian Heritage announced it would give the CCA just $195,000, not the $780,000 requested – money, it told the CCA, that could be used to try to put the organization on a new footing or to wind up its operations.