Thank you for the invitation to be here today.
New Dawn was founded in 1976. Through its work in a number of sectors, it's focused on creating a vibrant, self-reliant Unama'ki/Cape Breton Island.
The Cape Breton Centre for Arts and Culture, a cultural hub in industrial Cape Breton, is still in the process of becoming. With the support of the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada, New Dawn began restoring a 40,000-square-foot 130-year-old convent in September 2017. The centre, which will focus primarily on the provision of affordable workspaces for artists, is set to open in May of 2019.
As I thought about what I wanted to share with you today, I settled on three facets of our journey over the last five years as they relate to the work of Canadian Heritage: first, the importance of investing in the creation of cultural hubs in non-metropolitan communities; second, the efficacy and professionalism of Canadian Heritage staff from the perspective of a non-profit organization; and third, as has been highlighted by several other recent witnesses, the importance of operational funding.
Our experiences in bringing the Cape Breton Centre for Arts and Culture to life are very much rooted in the place in which they have unfolded, an Atlantic Canadian community that has struggled for the past four decades to reinvent itself after the rapid decline of its primary industries: coal and steel. This historical context is important. It continues to influence the lives we live in Cape Breton today, and it connects us to, rather than separates us from, many other communities in Canada.
The creation of a sizable cultural hub against this backdrop is transformational. It is a project that stands out today in Sydney, and one that will stand out for years to come, for a number of reasons.
The Cape Breton Centre for Arts and Culture is the largest investment in downtown Sydney in the last eight years. It will open in an area largely characterized by empty buildings, for sale signs, and deteriorating public infrastructure. It will offer people a reason to come back to our downtown and will offer our downtown a critical mass of people to shop at its shops and dine in its restaurants. It will also, as it already has, give people in the community something to be hopeful for, to take as tangible evidence of the corner that many of us are longing to turn.
Bringing the Centre for Arts and Culture to life in this context has meant having to do so with the support of two levels of government, rather than three. In 2018-19, our municipality will repair only one of 60 local roads, will spend less this year than last on street lights, recreation, parks, buildings, and libraries, and has had to turn down more than $3 million in requests for capital investments from community organizations. To say that our municipality is poor would be an understatement.
Your investments in non-metropolitan communities and economically struggling communities are transformational.
I will note that making these kinds of investments will require ongoing sensitivity to the differences that will arise in bringing these kinds of cultural hubs to life. Arts organizations in these communities may look different: they may not be as big; they may not be as long-standing; and they may not be as well-resourced as organizations in larger cities. I say this knowing that the struggle for resources typifies this sector all across the country.
Cultural hubs themselves may also look very different in these communities. They may have to make space for volunteer-run arts organizations alongside professional arts organizations. They may have to be multi-use spaces where a critical mass of users in the arts sector does not yet exist to fill the cultural hubs. They will likely and perhaps almost exclusively have to be able to provide affordable spaces to artists as defined in relation to the local market and income levels of artists. Local governments, despite their strong philosophical support, may not be able to come to the table with financial resources of any kind. These governments, as was the case with ours, may be struggling to meet even their most basic infrastructure obligations.
Cape Breton has a long history of artistic excellence, and many on the island are committed to reinvention through these means.
My two next comments on the efficacy and professionalism of Canadian Heritage staff and the importance of operational funding will be brief.
As a non-profit organization, it has been incredibly uplifting to work with a department that is professional, efficient, and empowering. This has been our experience with Canadian Heritage staff. From the outset, it has been our sense that they believe—beyond the rhetoric—in the importance of cultural hubs. They have remained focused on the end goal and have been flexible, reasonable, and committed advocates as we've worked through the challenges that are inevitable in a project of this size.
I will close by underlining the importance of operational funds for cultural hubs. For us, our objective remains: creating affordable spaces for artists to work in.
The operational costs of a centre providing affordable space to artists are no less than the operational costs of a building providing space to entrepreneurs or lawyers or the civil service. We have done our best to create and refine a strong and sustainable operational plan for our centre, but even modest periodic supports are helpful in easing the tension between the competing pressures in such a case: the pressure to keep the cost of space as low as possible and the pressure to provide a warm, safe, comfortable, and accessible environment in which to work.
Hello, everyone. I'm Michael Vickers and I'm here with Oliver Pauk.
Thank you very much for the invitation to be here to speak today. As co-directors of the arts organization Akin, we'll provide a brief history and explanation of our model, followed by a series of recommendations centred around support through policy changes rather than requests for funding. Additional details can be found in our brief, and we'd love to meet with you individually to expand on any of our ideas.
Akin was founded 10 years ago by a group of artist friends in a modest 600-square-foot loft in Toronto. Still entirely artist-run, Akin is now the largest provider of affordable studio space in Canada, providing nearly 35,000 square feet of space to over 300 creators of all types across eight locations in the Toronto area, along with a year-long calendar of roughly 60 free or low-cost programs across three streams: professional development opportunities for practising artists, creative workshops and programs, and community engagement projects with marginalized groups.
We've doubled lease space and renters in the last 18 months due to an acute need for affordable space and supportive programs, and we function without any operational funding. Studio affordability is maintained by negotiating short and medium rental durations in properties transitioning into redevelopment. Our leases have ranged from six months to 10 years. Landlords and developers lease their properties to us on favourable terms before development can begin, enabling Akin to create social and economic value from buildings that would otherwise sit vacant. In many instances, our members are newcomers to Canada as well as young businesses operating in the cultural realm.
We pursue two often overlooked realities of real estate development in our country. Firstly, there comes a time in every building's life when the need for rehabilitation or redevelopment drives leasing rates down to levels that creative or social enterprises can afford. Secondly, the interval between the decision to redevelop and the actual start of construction often takes three to five years or more. The Akin model is beneficial not only for artists but also for property owners and developers, neighbourhoods, and Toronto's prosperity and quality of life.
In short, we have a formula that works: discounted interim real estate, plus refurbishment for artists, plus management, maintenance, and programming and professional opportunities equals inspiring affordable space for artists and vulnerable groups otherwise priced out of workspace, and the creation of supportive, creative, thriving, and interesting communities. One example is Akin's King Street studios, which operate in a beautiful heritage building owned by Allied Properties REIT, one of the country's largest property owners. It's being leased to us in Toronto's expensive entertainment district at far below market rent so that Akin can provide studios to over 100 artists in this in-between period before the site is developed.
As a different example, we do not only occupy buildings at the end of their life cycle. Akin's newest location will inhabit half of the fourth floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto, creating affordable space for 25 artists in an important cultural neighbourhood from which many artists have recently been forced out by way of rising rents.
How can cultural hubs and organizations such as Akin be supported at the federal level? By changing the rules and focusing on leasing incentives, questioning tax benefits, and facilitating access to unused government-owned property.
We have three suggestions for serious consideration.
The first is “meanwhile leases”. In the U.K., a government-led initiative of meanwhile leases has been promoted since 2009. These are leases of dormant commercial spaces that accommodate non-profit renters at cost, in return for significant property tax breaks or other considerations to the owners. In the U.K., non-profit users typically do not pay rent at all and are simply responsible for covering the cost of utilities and any improvements to the space. This creates more available space for artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs and also a reward for developers, building owners, and realtors: to have their buildings utilized and activated. Both sides benefit and are incentivized.
Secondly, we would like to address the recent development of a “creative co-location property tax” subclass being rolled out across Ontario. We recognize that this change is a step in the right direction, but fewer than 20 buildings in Toronto actually will qualify for the 50% tax break to property owners, which is not passed down to—nor does it directly benefit—the actual creative class itself. Additional barriers include requirements such as the necessity of a minimum of 10,000 square feet of space or a list of more than 40 tenants, as well as an undefined below-market rent. Could a new tax subclass be developed at the federal level that attaches the funding and financial assistance not only to building owners and landlords but to their tenants, as in the U.K.?
Thirdly, we would like to advocate for the government to facilitate more effective processes for the use of vacant government-owned property through the below-market rent policy. The current rules in Toronto make it more difficult than ever for non-profits to access these spaces, including mystery around which spaces are in fact available. Like many others, as a non-profit affiliated with a for-profit, we are automatically barred from access. Even before this, it was nearly impossible for small non-profits to be considered for city-owned properties.
As an example, there is a condo building at 61 Heintzman Street in Toronto that created a city-administered rental space as part of a section 37 agreement mandating that the space would be used to benefit the local community. What happened instead was that a storefront space was created and sat dormant and unused for five years, and, after Akin was deemed ineligible by the city's legal department, it has continued to sit vacant for an additional two years, completely unused. New regulations created at the federal level could require more concrete, useful awarding of budget and space from developments to artists or community groups. City staff could work to facilitate the communication and successful usage of these types of spaces so as not to squander the opportunities they offer.
Finally, there is a lack of cultural policy to support these initiatives and a need for more gatherings with the purpose of sharing information on this subject. Government should help bring organizations in this field together and facilitate sharing of knowledge and the building of community at local, provincial, and national levels.
We ask for revisions of current legislation to enable Akin not only to flourish in the arts, but to assist individuals and groups across a broader spectrum and to protect, assist, and foster cultural hubs and districts across Canada.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here today.
I hope so, given the opportunity.
Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I'd like to commend you on your study, as currently this is a really active topic of conversation across the country.
My interest stems from my work on “music cities”, which we began at Music Canada in 2011. We define a music city as “a municipality of any size that has a vibrant music economy which is intentionally supported and promoted”. Since 2014, I've led our study of over 30 cities around the world and have become one of the world's leading thinkers on the topic. I've advised cities on every continent and have spoken at countless events. I'm an active member of music city committees in Toronto and Vancouver.
Music Canada published a road map for the development of a music city in 2015. Since then, about a dozen Canadian cities or regions have taken up that road map as well as other independent work and have begun to develop music strategies, including most recently Ottawa, which released a strategy two weeks ago.
One of the most important components of a music city is the availability of spaces and places for rehearsal, recording, and performance, as well as education. It's also likely the top issue identified in Canadian communities.
Some of the common concerns that arise in public surveys and focus groups relating to music are as follows. The first is the lack of affordable rehearsal spaces and live-work spaces, and really the affordability of housing in general. The second is the pressure on small grassroots venues, as well as affordability pressures and the pressures that come from mixed-use areas, with venue closures creating gaps in what we call the “venue ladder”, which is needed to adequately incubate artists. Third, heavy red tape has often been cited as a concern. The fourth is the need for greater audience engagement. Fifth, there is a need for greater opportunities to collaborate and to connect with other professionals, both within music and across the cultural sectors.
Creative hubs in cultural districts can respond in their own ways to these community-identified needs and in so doing can accomplish larger policy, economic, and cultural goals. In our music city investigation, we've identified three typical formats for creative hubs.
There are hubs that are artist-centric, with recording facilities, rehearsal and performance spaces, workshops, and access to the professional services of lawyers and accountants, for instance; hubs that are music business incubators, like you might see for other industries, providing hot desks, networking events, business development, support and training; or, some combination of the two. There are examples in each of those formats. Cultural districts, on the other hand, allow municipalities in particular the flexibility to design rules and regulations that can be used to nurture creative activities in organizations in a set geographic area.
Both of these tools are ultimately about creating spaces and places for cultural uses. As you consider this topic and how best the federal government can support them, there are two things I'd like you to consider.
Number one, music spaces are sometimes not what you might expect. A large portion are not buildings specifically built for a music purpose. Likely half of the inventory is made up of multi-use repurposed or unused spaces: bars, restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, retail spaces, microbreweries, and repurposed industrial properties, to name just a few. A recent economic impact study done in the province of B.C. will soon be released, and indeed, half of the music spaces in the province were not originally identified as music venues. In large cities and small towns, places for musical creation and performance are emerging from unique raw materials. Similarly, creative hubs do not fit a tight definition. I encourage you to think in broad terms about what qualifies as a creative hub.
Second, this network of cultural spaces is composed of a mix of for-profit and not-for-profit, and both are critical for the sustenance of our cultural sector. The same artists—I'm speaking specifically here of music—who perform at not-for-profit venues also perform at for-profit venues. It really makes no difference to the artist.
Our cultural districts are also made up of this mix. Commercial entities—as an example, music venues and music studios—are important tenants in cultural districts and struggle with some of the same challenges facing their non-profit cousins, but typically do not qualify for federal funding programs. Federal funding for non-profit—let me be clear—is really important, so I'm not suggesting diverting in any way.
Let me give you an example. Queen Street West was mentioned in the department's testimony. One of Queen West's most iconic and longest-serving operators, the Horseshoe Tavern, is only able to maintain its space thanks to the generosity of the building's owners. Should the landlords choose to charge market rent, the Horseshoe Tavern could not remain in that space.
Other jurisdictions have recognized the important contributions of the commercial sector and that they too face affordability pressures and heightened demands from nearby residents—for instance, to mitigate sound—and they have made loans or grants available to venues to upgrade their facilities or to acquire specialized equipment. This is something that could be considered in an enhanced funding program.
I applaud you for your study. I commend all of my fellow presenters. I'm learning a lot here this morning. Thank you. I look forward to expanding on this in the Qs and As.
Good morning. I am Jacques Primeau, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Quartier des spectacles Partnership. I am accompanied by Mr. Pierre Fortin, who is our Executive Director.
We thank you for having accepted the brief we tabled, and for this opportunity to submit a few potential avenues for reflexion.
The Quartier des spectacles de Montréal has now become a world-class cultural hub. It was born about 20 years ago from a desire to build a cultural, new-generation space to support a variety of cultural and civic events. It was built thanks to the concerted action of dynamic cultural actors in the downtown area, and thanks to the support of the City of Montreal and the governments of Canada and Quebec. More than $200 million was invested in the public spaces, for instance.
A quarter of all show tickets sold in Quebec are sold in the Quartier des spectacles. That means more than 1.5 million performance tickets, in one of the most concentrated cultural spaces in North America. In this neighbourhood, there are multiple summer festivals, in seven public areas. One obvious example is the Festival international de Jazz de Montréal, but there are also around 40 other festivals that take place in these public spaces, and they remain active throughout the year.
It is the partnership's responsibility to bring about a dynamic balance between the residents, the retailers, the business community and the cultural actors, all of whom benefit from the increased foot traffic generated by this cultural crossroads. The challenge consists in maintaining the residents' quality of life despite all of this effervescent activity.
Public investments in the Quartier des spectacles have also attracted private real estate projects. Over the past 10 years, these projects generated economic real estate spinoffs of more than $2.2 billion.
This development has created major pressure on real estate values and on the cost of establishing households and cultural organizations in the area. Ultimately, if nothing is done, the Quartier des spectacles could become an unaffordable area for many of its creators and its most dynamic venues.
The additional number of visitors drawn to the downtown area by the cultural crossroads that is the Quartier des spectacles benefits all of the economic actors of the metropolis, and that regularly raises questions about the equitable sharing of costs and benefits.
There are other challenges, such as the challenge of producing French-language cultural performances or events, an issue that affects Montreal particularly.
Over the past 10 years, we have seen the emergence of cultural hubs on the periphery of Montreal. Several production and outreach activities left the downtown core and migrated toward the suburbs and these new hubs. This move runs the risk of eroding francophone production, as these peripheral hubs do not have a sufficient critical mass, and don't have enough synergy to sustain the type of production and the scope of activities that is made possible by the central location of the Quartier des spectacles.
The Global Cultural Districts Network was created in 2013. It is a group of cultural neighbourhoods in the great cities of the world and the partnership has been a member from the beginning. The GCDN sponsors research on topics such as the development and animation of public spaces, or governance models in cultural neighbourhoods. It also funds an international network of public artwork exchanges between neighbourhoods, which allowed the Impulse installation, which is normally located in the Quartier des spectacles, to travel to about 10 cities throughout the world since 2016.
It would be interesting if the Canadian cultural hubs could get together in a network like the GCDN. The Government of Canada could be a catalyst by actively supporting the creation and operation of such a network.
The dynamism of a cultural hub is not only of benefit to the city it is in. The Montreal example is interesting in that regard; the metropolis benefits from the influx of talents and the expertise of the regions, while serving as a showcase and springboard for the creativity and innovation of those same regions.
The expertise we have acquired over the past years allows us to better define the many contributions culture makes to the vitality of cities and to their international outreach. The main challenge is twofold: we must allow the city to act as an incubator and as a space where all forms of culture can be expressed, while optimizing the very important contribution culture makes to the city and to Canada's presence abroad.
That is why the partnership is very favourable to your committee's initiative and hopes to make a positive contribution to it. We make eight recommendations in our brief, and I invite you to read them. I will mention them briefly here.
I think you've seen how vast this topic is. That is why, to some degree, the government asked us to do the groundwork to determine how the $300 million that was announced in last fall's cultural policy should be invested.
I thank all the witnesses for their presentations this morning. They were all very different, but very complementary.
We take it for granted that Music Canada represents Canada's musicians. Let's say that we posit that hypothesis. There are artists who would like a spot in a community like the one Ms. Shea is trying to develop through New Dawn Enterprises. Indeed I see that as a community. I think that that enterprise could present arguments in the same way as a Nova Scotia city or region. It could potentially get together with the Akin Collective to put together a technical resource group comparable to what is done in the social housing sector. How could we build something like that to make room for Canadian musicians?
Ultimately, time passes and we wind up with a neighbourhood like the one that preceded the Quartier des spectacles. Before it was called the Quartier des spectacles, there was the Wilder Building, and the building above, opposite Sainte-Catherine Street, opposite MusiquePlus. The cultural crossroads was there, and it became professionalized. As we have been able to see in the presentations of the Quartier des spectacles team, there has been enormous success and professionalization. A creative space was created, a space where everyone can practice an instrument and rehearse. We all remember the glory years of Spectrum, or when the Société des arts technologiques, the SAT, appeared. When the lady from SAT came to meet with us, she said that SAT had settled in a former bank opposite the Spectrum space. Today, the Quartier des spectacles presents somewhat like a completed cultural hub, and it is becoming a cultural district. I am taking pains to present this synthesis, because it is our duty to clarify and do the groundwork on the issues.
What interests me here are the two ends of the equation. Either Mr. Primeau or Mr. Fortin—I don't remember which—said today that we have to make sure that we still have affordable spaces where people can practise various artistic disciplines. That is a big issue. However, if someday you have the opportunity of going to Montreal and to the Jardins Gamelin, you will see as I did that it presents much more as a cultural crossroads than a cultural district. We really see the emergence of all sorts of talents there, and the space is very appropriate for it. The La Patrie building, which is quite close to the Foufounes Électriques, also has enormous potential. It's a magnificent building, and its very name evokes all of Quebec's cultural heritage.
Gentlemen from the Quartier des spectacles Partnership, you mentioned in your recommendations that we need to adopt measures to support cultural crossroads. You also spoke about risk-sharing. I'd like you to provide some further explanations about what you meant.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I thank all of the witnesses for being here with us today. Their vast expertise is helpful to us in our study.
Mr. Chair, I want to tell you that I will be sharing my time with Ms. Dzerowicz. One of the organizations here is from her riding, and I understand very well that she would like to exchange a few words with its representatives.
For my part, I want to hear from you mostly about the impact of this on tourism. That is primarily addressed to Mr. Primeau and Mr. Fortin.
I am from a rural riding in the greater Granby area. I make a point every year of going to the Quartier des spectacles or to one of the arts centres to see a show.You have made this an extraordinary success, and it is ongoing.
Earlier you said that the construction of the Quartier des spectacles and the effervescence that created generated spinoffs of $2.2 billion in the real estate sector. Have you done any studies on the collateral financial benefits of all of the shows and of the neighbourhood itself? That is extremely important.
Personnaly, I see the Quartier des spectacles as a model. We often say back home that a dollar invested in culture generates six dollars. I don't know if you did that calculation for yourselves. Is it more, is it less? Tell me about the impact that neighbourhood has on tourism.
Those restaurants opened in the last year and none of them have closed.
We create an intense cultural experience in the downtown, and people come for the experience. In the past, people would park their car, come in to see the show and then leave. Now, something is being offered in the public space so that people stay and have a drink, for instance. All of that, of course, generates economic spinoffs.
There is also a night economy being created, like what you see in Berlin or Paris. Because of smoking bans, people go outside of buildings more often, and they speak louder at the end of the evening than in the beginning. Our work is to manage the balance between those things and see to it that it remains a space where all of the downtown activities and residents can co-exist.
At the initiative of the city of Montreal, governments made a $200-million investment in public places. It was a risky investment. We promised governments that an increase in activity would generate additional revenues—because of the GST, among other things—that would allow us to reimburse them in 15 years; we did it in 7. This means that that investment was profitable for the city, the Government of Quebec and for the Government of Canada, and this is ongoing.
However, there are sometimes some unintended effects. For instance, the fact that there are 50 restaurants and that it is now very easy to go to eat outside of the festival site has caused a decline in the festivals' independent revenues. Previously, the festivals sold the food and drink. Now, they have more spectators but less independent revenue.
That is in fact the issue that concerns me the most for the next few years. Very often, we focus on the vehicle and all of the economic spinoffs and we are happy about them, but the fact is that there is less money left for the stage, the artists and the creators. Even if the situation and events grow in scope, the federal government could look into that aspect and be more concerned about the money allocated to creation and to artists.
In passing, there is something excellent that happens in your area. The Festival international de la chanson de Granby is quite a major event.
How much time do I have, Chair?
The Vice-Chair (Hon. Peter Van Loan): You have about two minutes.
Ms. Julie Dzerowicz: Great.
Thanks to all of you for your outstanding presentations. I've really learned a lot today.
I'm very proud to have Akin Collective in my riding and doing a lot of work there. Thank you for your presentation.
I used to book bands when I was at McGill University, so I'm a very big supporter of live music and would really like to see things like Hugh's Room and the Horseshoe stay alive and be very active. They really are the heart and soul of the live music industry in Toronto and the GTA.
For the Akin Collective, can you expand a bit more on your last recommendation about bringing organizations together, or all three levels of government coming together for best practices? Can you talk to that for a minute? Then I'll have a question for Amy.
I will call the meeting back to order.
On this panel, we again have four witnesses.
We have here in studio, as they might say, Jacquie Thomas and Michael Spence from Theatre Gargantua. We also have with us Sarah Douglas-Murray from the Creative City Network of Canada. By video conference from Vancouver, we have Judith Marcuse of the International Centre of Art for Social Change. Finally, by something that we haven't done before in this committee, I believe, by teleconference from the Jasper Community Habitat for the Arts we have Marianne Garrah.
We will start with Theatre Gargantua and Ms. Thomas and Mr. Spence.
I'm told that everyone understands that you have seven minutes for your presentations.
Thank you very much, and good morning.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today about the cultural hubs in Canada.
I started a small company 25 years ago. With a considerable cheekiness, I called it Theatre Gargantua. We may not actually have been gargantuan, but our vision was. We struggled to pay our phone bills, but we made art that was noticed: highly physical, actors suspended in air, live music, and designs that transported our audiences and won awards. It's clear to us now that the success was fundamental to the long-term survival of our company.
There's one key factor in that early success that cannot be overstated. We had space. The arts-friendly congregation of an inner-city church in Toronto, the Church of St. Stephen's-in-the-Fields, allowed us to develop our process of creation and perform our work in their beautiful space. With 40-foot vaulted ceilings, raised wooden floors, and exposed beams for us to swing on, it was an ideal place for a young company with big ideas to thrive.
As we grew and artistically matured, our technical needs went well beyond the capacity of that small church. Our first work was lit entirely with candles, but now we incorporate more sophisticated media into our works, and we use multiple projectors, moving lights, and large-scale set pieces. Our vision is as gargantuan as it ever was.
There's really only one thing holding it back. There just isn't a space for it. Appropriate and affordable space is a challenge for artists across the country and, after 25 years, I can speak with a degree of expertise to the challenges we face in Toronto. Where once theatre companies could create performance spaces in abandoned warehouses, the incredible challenges in the real estate market have virtually eliminated these possibilities in our urban centres. The pressure on real estate in Toronto has been well documented, and there's a need for a solution for the loss of these cultural spaces. The need for dedicated, affordable, and appropriate space for the creation and performance of live arts is at a point of crisis.
Gargantua, along with our partners, the Théâtre français de Toronto and the Obsidian Theatre Company—respectively, Ontario's largest French-language theatre and Canada's largest black theatre company—is launching an ambitious project to create a new cultural hub in Toronto. We are three award-winning companies that present diverse practices for multi-generational audiences in both official languages, and we are determined to address the critical need for space for ourselves and other artists in the community.
Our hub will welcome our combined audience of close to 20,000 each year, including 6,500 school-age children. Our programming is open to the larger public and runs from 9 a.m to 11 p.m. on most days. These include workshops, student matinees, weekend matinees, summer camps, and weekend writing camps for teenagers, on top of our regular evening performances.
Guided by our shared values of accessibility, affordability, flexibility, and inclusivity, our vision includes a creative hub that houses two flexible performance spaces equipped to support artistic and technical innovation and two rehearsal halls, as well as other public gathering spaces. This will be a purpose-built complex on a main street accessible to all by subway.
It will support diverse artistic and cultural innovation. It will be an activated community hub where there is always something happening and something being created, taught, or presented. It will be a place to gather and tell stories, a practice that is at the root of all cultural manifestations.
Culture is no accident. It always is the result of effort. It emerges from the efforts that people make to live, from the struggles we face and the unique strategies that we come up with to survive them, and from the ways that we celebrate when we are successful and the ways that all these things are transformed into stories. As artists, we feel the responsibility and privilege of being part of this transformation.
Cultural hubs are where we gather to hear and tell stories. They are local, they are alive, and they are activated with authentic conversations. A well-designed hub will be inviting and vital: a place that focuses on the community that houses it and gives energy back to that community. It will provide space for local voices and also for hosting opportunities for work from other communities, both nationally and internationally.
As cultural workers, we can bear witness to the profound impact of these spaces. We know that hubs can be cultural engines that spur economic development and that the federal government can play a big part in their success. Here are our recommendations on how you can help, some of which echo those of our colleagues who have previously spoken here.
The first is brokering relationships. Help us assemble partnerships so that federal, provincial, and municipal participation can provide a substantial base to leverage corporate, private, and even international stakeholders.
Next, make it attractive to be philanthropic. Encouraging philanthropy doesn't just mean tax incentives. It is about actively promoting it as an ethos for the nation.
The next one is public land. Create policy whereby public lands cannot be disposed of without first assessing their potential for, and making them available as, cultural hubs.
Finally, there is operating funding. Currently there is no place where cultural hubs can go for ongoing operating costs. This significant gap in the system has put cultural hubs, once built, in a position of competing with their own cultural programming for use of funds from the Canada Council for the Arts. There needs to be funding through the Department of Canadian Heritage for the not very sexy operations of hub spaces, since that's not something that sponsors and donors are really keen to contribute to.
We thank you very much for the opportunity to speak at committee today.
Good morning, everyone.
I'm sorry, but since I only speak French once a year, I am going to speak English.
I'm delighted to share perspectives and ideas about how arts and culture can become more truly integrated into the fabric of our country and to relate this to the creation of arts and cultural hubs or centres.
An artist myself, best known previously as a producer and choreographer, I presently lead a $3-million, six-year national study on art for social change, or ASC, involving six universities across the country, 45 scholars, artists, and community-based organizations. It's the first study of its kind in Canada and concludes in December. We’ve already made public over 100 results of this work, including information on the impact for individuals and communities and for systems change.
I work all over the world and am off to South Africa in a few days, and I know from experience that Canada is considered a leader in the field of art for social change.
What do I mean by ASC? We define it as “artmaking made collectively by groups of people about things that matter to them, this process facilitated by a specialized artist or group of artists”.
This work involves every discipline—performing, visual, literary, digital, and urban arts—very often in partnership with local change organizations: community-based non-arts organizations in a wide swath of diverse sectors, from health and justice, immigrant settlement, and economic development to cross-cultural, cross-generational, and reconciliation work and conflict resolution with youth and elders, as well as strategic planning in corporate situations and the creation of public policy.
At its centre is the artmaking. ASC is a form of art with its own unique goals, pedagogy, methods, and scholarship. It's a form of cultural democracy. It's about our own voices: the imaginative way we have to understand and address often complex problems.
There are over 400 organizations currently working in Canada in this sector, with a history of over 50 years in our country. The field is growing exponentially as organizations, artists, and change-makers from every sector are seeing the profound impact of this work. It brings the right brain into action. Creative innovation is at the heart of these arts-based forms of dialogue, as well as the resulting action for positive change.
How does this sector relate to arts and cultural community hubs? I will get to that very soon, but first I am going to offer you an image. It is an image of the ecology of arts in Canada.
At the top, we see the high arts, such as museums, art galleries, ballet companies, and opera companies, and we see cutting-edge artists. At the bottom, we see our granddaughter singing in the bathtub about her dog. In between, we have community arts: pottery classes, Sunday painting, and all kinds of other arts activities that involve the community. What I like to do is to make all of this into a circle where every element of that circle is connected to every other element. If we are to create a healthier, more innovative and imaginative, creative, cohesive, and engaged society, we need to be inclusive when thinking about policies that enrich our experience of the arts. It's not about just consuming the arts but about making art with others about what matters to them and making visible the diverse voices of our country.
Soon you'll be receiving a policy report that is a summation of all our work over the past five years.
There are specific policy recommendations for the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council. After decades of inclusion, the council has eliminated community-engaged arts as its own field of practice. The sector is basically not present on the council’s website. The absence of experienced artists on juries and the absence of criteria for assessment are problematic as well. Despite two years of attempting dialogue, our national working group has not been able to engage in productive dialogue about these issues.
The second set of recommendations, which you are to receive in both languages soon, are calls for action across federal departments, based on meetings I've had with some 34 federal officials in Ottawa over the last year. Our research reveals that the federal government is far behind municipalities, provinces, and foundations in its recognition and support for the arts sector, with only some 8% of the total. We are under the radar in Ottawa. In fact, many other jurisdictions have increased their support for this work as they see its profound, sustainable, and positive impacts. The social innovation and social enterprise community is just the latest to integrate these arts practices into their work.
Given all these realities, I offer positive possible approaches to the question of arts centres, cultural centres, hubs, or whatever they turn out to be. I very much endorse the perspectives of the Canadian Arts Coalition and those of the McConnell Foundation, which truly represent attainable and positive directions for future hubs and centres. I propose that Canadian Heritage mandate that community-engaged ASC activities be integrated into the policies, planning, and programs of new centres. One could even use an arts-infused dialogue process to create the policies for these new bricks-and-mortar—and perhaps virtual—hubs.
My experience is that the majority of many arts and cultural activities in this country presently take place outside of existing arts centres. Often, the centres are too expensive for small and medium-sized organizations. In particular, community-engaged arts tend to be isolated from the mainstream and are constantly in search of places to do their work in the community.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak about cultural hubs and districts in Canada.
I'm here today as vice-president of the Creative City Network of Canada. The network is a national non-profit organization that facilitates collaboration, knowledge sharing, research, and professional development for the cultural sector at the local level through the development of cultural policy, planning, and professional practice. Our membership is primarily made up of municipalities and regional governments, with members from over 178 communities across the country ranging in size from 3,000 to 2.8 million and representing over 16 million Canadians.
The network's vision is that culture is a core pillar of sustainability, facilitating positive change through creativity and innovation and creating healthy, vibrant, and engaging communities across Canada. Through its work, the network helps build the capacity of local cultural planning professionals and, by extension, their local governments to nurture and support cultural development in their communities. By doing so, our organization aims to improve the operating climate and conditions of artists, arts, heritage, and cultural organizations and the quality of life in communities of all sizes.
Upon being invited to speak here today, we reached out to our members in asking them to define cultural hubs and districts and identify whether they currently have or are working towards having them in their communities. We learned that they exist or are in development in many of our member municipalities, and while we heard a consistent message in support of the development and benefits of cultural hubs and districts, it also became apparent to us that every member community was unique and that the type, scope, scale, and definition of each community's assets was extremely diverse.
As our communities are unique and varied, we must be creative and innovative in the development of the program and how we support the development of the sector and individual communities across the country. It is also important that the approach in terms of how we define and support cultural hubs is flexible.
While each community's definition varies, cultural hubs tended to be identified as specific spaces or a building where multiple creative and cultural service organizations and disciplines came together in one location to deliver programs, services, and opportunities. Cultural districts were identified as a series of cultural assets that are located in close proximity to each other, creating a sense of place geographically. When speaking about cultural districts, our members talked about the places between the spaces also being important in defining the district.
It is important to note that both cultural hubs and districts are happening in our communities organically and intentionally. They happen intentionally as a tool for community development, such as the regeneration of downtowns, to promote tourism, and to enhance engagement in community well-being.
In looking at similarities between hubs and districts, they both offer a high volume of facilities and activities that attract people. They enable a cross-pollination of ideas, sectors, and projects; they're dynamic, flexible, welcoming, and accessible; and, they serve a diverse community of artists, performers, creative entrepreneurs, and the public.
We also asked our members to tell us what role the government can play to help hubs and districts. We heard that municipalities are already playing an important and growing role in facilitating, delivering, and ensuring cultural activity at the local level. They're already supporting cultural hubs in a number of ways, including: inclusion in official planning documents; the development and enhancement of infrastructure and public spaces; funding and granting, both to existing hubs and not-for-profit organizations; and, amendments to zoning, bylaws, licensing, and permitting, as spoken about earlier today.
Our members feel strongly that culture is the fourth pillar of sustainability, and many municipalities have worked through extensive community consultation to develop cultural plans and policies. The cultural planning documents in many cases identified the development of districts or hubs within the communities.
Often, the ongoing challenge is funding for development, operations, and programming. In this regard, coordination between levels of government needs to be improved. We were very pleased to hear the statement to this committee by the director general of the arts policy branch that it is important for the Department of Canadian Heritage to have the opportunity to establish partnerships with municipalities and the provinces, and that they are looking to see how the department can support these centres.
We very much agree that municipalities, the provinces, and the department should be working together to develop funding agreements and frameworks for the development and renewal of cultural infrastructure. This recommendation was also made by the Canadian Arts Coalition in their statement to this committee when they requested that future provincial bilateral agreements be required to include a broad consideration of cultural projects. They correctly pointed out that at the provincial level there is a significant absence of programs parallel to the Canada cultural spaces fund and that organizations and municipalities are often left in a compromised position of lobbying provincial governments for discretionary matching funds.
We also heard from our members that funding is needed to support operations, programming, and ongoing activity within hubs and districts. As was mentioned earlier, they are by their very nature diverse and often do not fit neatly into the existing funding streams that are focused on single disciplines, such as performing or visual arts, or on very specific outcomes often identified through economic development programs.
Creative and cultural industries have a positive impact on our communities. They nurture the soul of our country. We encourage embracing culture as a fourth pillar of sustainability.
In closing, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak today and would encourage future collaboration with the Creative City Network and our membership in the development of your programs.
Good morning. Thanks for the invitation to talk to you guys today.
I'm going to tell you a bit about our little arts centre that we have going on here in Jasper, the Habitat for the Arts. It was designed to provide a unique and meaningful opportunity for creative partnership arts programming. Programming ranges from studio space for the community and visiting artists to classroom space and after-school programs, and post-secondary accredited outreach education. It's also a venue for small music, theatre, and film presentations. It's a home for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts travelling exhibition. It's a volunteer-based centre and a hub of information on cultural events in the community as a comprehensive guide, and it's a resource centre for the arts and artists.
The plan is to develop a place where artists and cultural organizations can engage with each other, educate the public, and interact with the community. It is intended to be a space to be enjoyed by all demographics, whether it be for presentations or engagements with Jasper's cultural offerings.
I'll give you a little history now. In 2010 we opened Habitat 1.0. It was a vacated provincial courthouse, and we were financially viable in about 18 months, meaning that we could pay our bills with a little bit left over. We are a non-profit organization or, as I like to say, a for-purpose organization. That caught the attention of the municipal government here in Jasper.
They invited us in 2012 to come in with the architects and design a purpose-built dedicated space for the arts. In 2016 they opened the new facility and we have been programming since then. We are an effective centre of activity for our region and the centre of a network for all disciplines and everything that is related to arts and culture.
As a result of our being here, we have renewed the theatre community. We have a theatre club here.
We have established a pottery facility here at the centre, with a kiln to fire pottery. Classes are taught by professionally trained potters. There's a tremendous interest in that.
Music-wise, we have regular events. Artists who we know travel through here to perform concerts. They are well attended.
We also gained the trust of the municipal government to initiate a project to put buskers on the streets of Jasper. That was a project we started as a result of the Rozsa Foundation and arts management here in the province. We have also established Jasper's first-ever film festival, and the arts centre has a new media lab and recording studio for sound and for music.
We have the full support of our council, in that we have established events such as the Mayors Poetry Challenge. If you remember, Mayor Naheed Nenshi from Calgary was the first to start that. Our mayor picked up the baton and in fact is a poet himself.
We have annual events that the community looks forward to, such as the Bowls with Soul, where we have a local potter make and sell bowls. Local restaurants are partnering with us to provide soup to go in those bowls. We have entertainers who entertain while people dine.
We are part of the National Canadian Film Day and have multiple venues in our town. We also have Raven About the Arts, the mayor's award that celebrates local arts. As well, we are part of Culture Days, the national event of Culture Days. We've been involved in that for about 10 years.
Jasper is on the world stage. We are on the world's radar with mountains, moose, and maple syrup, but we go beyond that. We have partnered and have put our arts centre into the minds and the places that discuss these things. We have been part of the creative cities conferences and have built networks there. We also have strong connections to the Banff Centre, which is our neighbour to the south.
“Technology, tolerance, and talent” is something that is quoted in the creative philosophy. We've always had the philosophy of people, place, and process. This means people who are put into a place that's properly equipped and who are allowed to take part in a process that produces meaningful outcomes both socially and in terms of the actual product. The product of that process is really secondary to the connections that are built socially. We call it “proactive inclusion”.
Now, we are a national park in the province of Alberta and the municipality of Jasper. We are an 18-year-old town, which is kind of unique. I moved here in 2001. That's the year that Jasper became a town. The two events are not related. However, we have since established something that has never existed here, which is the arts centre. We have collaborated with the community outreach services and the family community services here in Jasper, to provide activities for staff, residents and visitors.
That's relevant because Jasper has a population of 5,000 souls year-round, but that goes up to about 30,000 a day in the summer months and now in the winter, with the skiing, to the tune of about 2.35 million visitors to Jasper National Park each year. We act locally, and we connect globally. The world comes to Jasper.
Our transient population is a bit of a challenge, but I would challenge anyone to get involved with theatre production and not come away after the production is over with a new set of connections and possibly the weirdest extended family you've ever experienced.
Socio-economics are what we talk about. We believe the arts are a viable career choice for people to apply their energies to. We believe this is a very meaningful addition to Jasper's offering to our visitors. It's also a place where we can grow. We see ourselves as a cultural hub because we exist to simply unify what is already here as well as expand upon what we can do. We have some challenges here in terms of support for the administration of the centre, as well as the edifice complex.
We would like to also talk about a quote from a friend of the Habitat. Tommy Banks, God rest his soul, said once in an interview that you can get a loan for a field full of pipe in Alberta, but you can't get a loan to put a play on, and we've taken that—
Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
I want to say thanks for all of the presentations today. They were excellent.
I appreciate the patience of the Jasper Community Habitat for the Arts on the phone, as well as you, Ms. Marcuse, for joining us by video conference.
My first question is directed to Theatre Gargantua. A number of people have recommended tax incentives to make it more attractive to invest in cultural hubs. Typically when there's investment in the arts community, there's usually a mixture between the private sector and government, as well as the public in some way.
I think it was you, Mr. Spence, who mentioned that. Could you elaborate a little more on any specific ideas for the federal level in terms of what we can do around these tax incentives?
Either one of you is fine.
Thank you, Mr. Vice-Chair.
I'd like to thank all the witnesses this morning, with a special thank you to Ms. Marcuse, who is video conferencing.
Of course, to two of my constituents, Marianne and David, thank you for joining us via a new system that was never used before. I am going to start with you. I'm going to let you finish your comment on Tommy Banks, but then I'd like you to comment on the fact that you are using a former government building, I believe, for your facility in the town of Jasper. It's very well located, and people who are visiting the community can easily walk to it from most hotels and motels in the area.
I'd like you to elaborate on the difficulties you have in trying to serve both a community and an international visiting community with a very limited amount of funding opportunities. I wonder if you could explain where you think we as government can help—whether it's the municipal, the provincial, or the federal government—in assisting small community organizations like yours that are a hub for art, etc. Go ahead, please.
Thank you. It's good to hear your voice again. I remember when we talked to you; it was on the same day that we talked to Tommy Banks.
Tommy Banks was a good friend to us. In our initial stages, he said to us that in Alberta you can get a loan through the bank for anything if it's for a field full of pipe, but it's hard to get a play funded. You'd be laughed out of the bank.
We started this project in a vacated provincial courthouse. It was a cold call to the province, and the guy was either just about to go on vacation or to retire, but he said yes and we moved in there. We were financially viable in 18 months. That was a location right downtown—if you ever come to Jasper, you're all invited to come see us—where people can access the centre. After 18 months, we proved ourselves financially viable, and that got the attention of the municipal government.
Jasper was about to revamp our municipal library, so they invited us to come in and sit down with the architects to help design and build Jasper's first dedicated and purpose-built centre for arts and culture. We sat down with them. There were some construction delays. We lost a little momentum in the four years while we were waiting for the centre to open. We also lost about $20,000, because we were going to be a featured site of Alberta Culture Days. When the centre opened, they were going to come and shine the spotlight on us.
We have since opened the centre, and we are blessed enough to have a green space right out in front of the centre. We have about 2,000 square feet of space. We are still accessible. We are still able to have people access us and we're more or less in the downtown. The challenges we have are, first, that this has never been done before, and, second, the astronomical rents in Jasper, which has only been a town for 18 years. This means that we have quite a responsibility to the municipality to make this swing.
As to something the government could do to help us, in Lethbridge there is a arts centre, Casa, and the operating costs and rents are paid through the department of culture. For us in the town of Jasper, it would be good to have something to cover those costs, as well as to make it possible for us to pay administrative costs. It's the edifice complex, where we build the buildings and then no one wants to pay for the cleaning or their operation. If there's any assistance we need, it would be for the day-to-day costs of running the centre, as well as perhaps a living wage for the operation, the programming, the maintaining of events, and the planning of curriculum, and also for just keeping the doors open. That's our major financial challenge. We believe in this enough that we sacrifice to make it happen, but these things I've mentioned would be the greatest alleviations we could have.
Does that begin to answer your question?
I think there is a strong place for consultation from this perspective, through this lens. For example, I would recommend that there be community consultations in the planning process for these cultural centres, because so often they are beautifully designed but are not used by the full community, particularly by people who are newer to the community, new immigrants, and by youth and seniors.
It feels to me that there are convening possibilities for Heritage to not only do that convening with local inhabitants but to also look at research, which really proves the impact of social arts in various ways and how to integrate that better into a hub, which is usually about people consuming art or making art for sale.
I also really endorse the notion that Sarah Douglas-Murray just expressed to your committee—and others have too—that there needs to be profound consultation, despite all of the vicissitudes of doing that, with the city, the province, and also with private foundations, which are increasingly involved in social practice arts. Universities as well are doing enormous amounts of outreach, not only in their arts, but in connecting arts and health, reconciliation, and the settlement of new Canadians and working with isolated seniors and with street-involved youth.
The range of the work of the arts needs to be extended so that we see its full range and the integration of citizens into making art—not just consuming it.