Opera.ca is the national association for opera in Canada, representing 14 professional producing companies from coast to coast, as well as affiliates, businesses, and individuals. We appreciate the opportunity to speak to this committee on the issue of gender parity and applaud this committee for studying this important issue.
Gender parity is an issue the opera sector takes as seriously as the government, and we have enacted several initiatives to effect change in this area that are aligned with many of our recommendations. I'm going to read our recommendations first, and then I'm going to tell you a bit about what they mean and how Opera.ca is responding to them.
Our first recommendation is that the Department of Canadian Heritage commission gender and diversity analysis research to better understand the scope and the depth of the problem, and share these findings. In the opera sector, collectively, we have not yet achieved gender parity among senior leaders and boards. In opera, I should say, general directors are the top leadership, and not often the artistic directors. Current parity figures for general directors is at 43%. Because we're a small sector, that equates to six women. With the exception of one, these women all lead the smallest organizations. Gender parity on opera company boards in Canada is, on average, 46%, or 90 out of 200 positions.
These figures are improvements in the past three years, as the opera sector has undergone many recent leadership transitions that have improved our parity. Three out of eight senior leadership appointments in the past three years have gone to women. We have also gathered data on parity in the sector that reaches beyond senior leadership and the board, to areas such as conductors and stage directors, where there is much work to be done in achieving parity. This is very important because this committee is studying the administrative and the governance side of things and we're also looking at the artistic leadership.
Future research will include parity statistics in all leadership positions of an opera company, to fully understand the depth of the problem. Research is essential, not only for understanding the problem, but as a key step in establishing a baseline so we can measure improvements over time, and to establish explicit gender parity outcomes or expectations.
Our second recommendation is to work with sector organizations and national arts service organizations in establishing realistic and achievable targets and timelines for achieving gender parity, if adopting a quota model or Norwegian approach. As a membership association representing the opera sector, we are focused on change in gender parity and are in the process of not only declaring change initiatives, but also establishing targets and timelines for the sector that can be agreed upon by member companies. We're doing this because we understand the importance of having action plans, targets, and timelines behind declarations of change.
However, as a membership-based association, we focus on incentivizing change as we lack levers for mandating it, but understand that the Department of Canadian Heritage, as a funder, might choose a quota approach. This recommendation requests that if a quota model is being considered, the Department of Canadian Heritage work with sector organizations in establishing realistic, achievable targets, given the fact that organizations have differing board length terms and employment contracts.
Our third recommendation is to provide funding for human resource programs that address perceived barriers to female leadership advancement, with a focus on mentorship and second-in-charge positions. The recent controversy over top jobs in arts and culture in Canada going to non-Canadians—and there was an article just in the past few months in The Globe and Mail about this—is exacerbated by the fact that these appointments have mostly gone to non-Canadian white men. One widespread rationale for this is the perception that there is a lack of qualified Canadians for these senior positions and, by extension, a lack of qualified women. Some hypothesize that the talent pool in Canada is too small, and others lament the lack of second-in-charge positions. That's a career path issue leading to these leadership positions. There is also evidence growing around gender bias with respect to what a leader looks like, which is predominantly male. That was an article in The New York Times in March.
In her recent “Canadian Performing Arts Leadership Audit”, part of a final major research paper for her MBA studies, consultant Jeanne LeSage noted that survey responses to suggestions for the sector to select, develop, and train the next generation of leaders include high scores for mentoring and second-in-charge positions.
Targeting both the perception that a leader is male and the lack of mentorship in second-in-charge positions, Opera.ca is developing a women's networking and job-shadowing program. It matches female leaders in the field with female protégées, who gain experience at a leader's side in a second-in-command capacity. Through this program, we also hope to reinforce and normalize the perception of women as leaders. This is just one kind of investment in human resources that we think could generate meaningful change in gender parity.
I have one last recommendation, which is to partner with service organizations in providing professional development and support for board governance-training in subjects like gender bias, inclusive practices, equity diversity, and accessibility training.
Despite our intentions and our efforts, we recognize that associations don't make hiring decisions—boards of directors do. Unconscious biases may exist in hiring practices. In the opera sector, boards themselves have not achieved parity. To incentivize change and address implicit and unconscious bias in hiring practices, our organization is introducing a new governance series in equity and inclusion for opera board members. This series will focus on the concept of corporate responsibility, or CR, a broadened definition of corporate governance that includes accountability to a range of stakeholders including employees, volunteers, government, and community. It will specifically study how gender and diversity on boards contribute to greater CR. This program is an example of how an investment in board training could help achieve gender parity.
As a last note, I would say that this investment could be combined with the recent announcement of training in the creation of harassment-free workplaces in the arts and culture sector.
Good morning. I'm so pleased to be presenting to you today. I am the Director and CEO of the Ottawa Art Gallery, and I suppose my voice is representative of the many municipal and regional art galleries across Canada. Some of you may have heard that we opened our doors to a new gallery this past weekend to huge success.
Many people, including the media, were positively surprised at the dominance of women in our project. I and our professional team, primarily made up of women, to our P3 private partners led by females, to key members of the building project team, pulled off an incredibly complex $100-million project. We apparently blasted through some biases of who and what it takes to get the job done.
As our organization embraces the time of transition and growth, it is timely to reflect on this transitional culture of gender parity as it relates to leadership, to what barriers might still exist in the sector, and to its impact on the decent work movement within the arts. We are certainly encouraged by the recent announcements made by Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Cultural Human Resources Council to support training and funding eligibility as it relates to a respectful and harassment-free work environments. This is a crucial step in working towards a new environment of arts leadership for the better.
According to a recent Canadian art magazine study based on the Canada Council for the Arts' recipient list of core funding, directors and curators in Canadian visual arts galleries are made up of 70% women and 30% men. This is seemingly good news, until you start to review important positions in the most powerful institutions across Canada, and North America as a whole. It's then that you see a complete reversal, with very few women in top positions and the women earning 20% less than their male counterparts. There is, unfortunately, what appears to be a glass ceiling in major institutions. There are, however, some notable exceptions, past and present, particularly in Quebec.
Steps need to be taken at the highest levels of organizations across Canada to nominate more females for executive positions. Executive search firms need to expand and put forward more female prospects, and those making hiring decisions on the CEOs of galleries and museums need to consciously check biases and recognize that expertise can be gained within Canada and in female form.
Many HR research reports I have read suggest that males come out stronger in articulating vision and exemplifying confidence and experience, thus resulting in a perception of a stronger candidate. This is a bias that our sector perpetuates. From my own experience in hiring practices, I have seen female candidates who are well equipped to lead. In interviews, they generally adopt a different style. They may assert their experience while acknowledging risk, attributing credit to others where credit is due, and acknowledging areas for improvement.
These qualities must no longer be attributed to weakness or a lack of confidence but rather to strength and the ability to honestly communicate the full picture of activities and realities. Vision is not about bolstering egos or using fancy lingo to steamroll an organization through unsustainable plans. Vision is about recognizing the unique set of circumstances that affect an organization and collectively driving an organization forward.
Across Canada, the arts sector has benefited from exemplary female leaders who have made positive changes in their organizations. Examples of these changes include rescuing galleries and museums in crisis, greatly increasing organizational capacity, building new and expanded facilities, raising major funds, and massively expanding audiences. This leadership style often promotes qualities such as shared and compassionate leadership and mentoring, an ability to embrace change and to pivot an organization to be more responsive, and a talent for providing sound fiscal management.
In 2017, the Canada Council for the Arts updated its policies and required that funding applicants commit to reflecting the diversity of their geographic community and region in organizational and artistic policies and programs. Now they've asked that we see diversity on staff and, most importantly, on the board of directors.
At the municipal and regional level in this country, the arts sector is dominated by female leaders who have risen from the ranks and have built strong ties to their community and an authentic style of leadership that often strives for sustainable excellence.
Women are leading the charge in ensuring that arts organizations establish, and maintain meaningful connections that are now being officially encouraged by our funders and our governments, and which have implicitly encouraged for decades, as not-for-profit arts organizations, a sense of accountability to their mission and communities. Yet, often, this commitment to diversity was not recognized, supported, or worse, at times, undermined by those in the leadership circle. That is a most unfortunate situation.
This authentic style of leadership, that has been recognized by national labour organizations within their decent work indicators, is becoming more and more prominent. In fact, our own organization was recognized by our work in the decent work movement through the Ontario not-for-profit network in their promising practice study.
Several of our practices were called out, including fair income and gender parity of wages; a platform for shared decision-making and ownership of planning and budgeting; flexible work environments that respect constraints around child, spousal and parental care; less contractual and more full-time permanent positions, mentorships, and opportunities for advancement; and wellness days replacing sick days.
Certainly, we know there are areas for improvement, including better health and benefit plans, as well as harassment policies that include a review of poor behaviour and practices.
In closing, I would like to echo other organizations' call, such as that of my colleague and the Canadian Arts Coalition, for you to consider the following recommendations: again, to instruct the Department of Canadian Heritage to conduct a literature review on gender parity in the arts, with attention to directors and board of directors, because the sector needs a comprehensive picture of the problem; work with the arts sector to encourage corporate headhunting firms to ensure that all executive searches include candidates who are not only female but also indigenous, disabled, queer, trans, and people of colour; encourage the Canada Council for the Arts to look to best practices, and to collect data regarding priority groups, as we really do need some comprehensive data; provide funding for human resource programs that address perceived barriers to female advancement; and provide mentorship opportunities.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good morning, members of the committee.
Thank you for inviting me to speak to this distinguished committee today about gender parity in arts organizations at the board and artistic leadership level. Debbie Collins has kindly offered to accompany me today in case members have questions on which they wish to drill down into our organization on the human rights agenda and parity issues.
We would like to thank each and every parliamentarian here today for their kind support of our National Arts Centre.
The NAC is always pleased to speak to members of Parliament about opportunities and issues facing the arts in Canada. While we're located just down from Parliament Hill, the NAC is a national organization that acts as a catalyst for performance, creation, and learning.
Every day we collaborate with artists and arts organizations across Canada, and strive to make a difference in communities from coast to coast to coast. Our increased national role has been spearheaded by our president and CEO.
Peter Herrndorf will leave his position next month. Recognized as a leader and a visionary, he has promoted performing arts across the country.
He has also been a leader in another area, gender diversity. With the full support of the NAC board of trustees, our senior management team, of which 11 out of 21 members are women, has ensured that gender parity has been achieved.
The senior management team includes Ms. Jayne Watson, the CEO of the NAC Foundation, our private fundraising arm.
As for our artistic leadership team, five members out of seven, or roughly 71%, are women. They include Cathy Levy of Montreal, Executive Producer of NAC Dance; Brigitte Haentjens, also from Montreal, who leads our French theatre department; Jillian Keiley, from St. John's, Newfoundland, who leads English theatre; her fellow Newfoundlander, Heather Moore, who is the Artistic Producer of our National Creation Fund; and finally, Heather Gibson, a Manitoban by way of Halifax, who heads our NAC Presents Canadian music series.
In addition, three of our associate artistic directors are women.
Those women, those leaders, are part of the NAC's administrative and creative direction teams. They help us tell Canada's stories and enhance female voices across the country. They inspire leaders and future leaders in arts and they set the example for arts organizations here and elsewhere.
In addition, in recent years the NAC has maintained very good overall representation of women in its workforce. According to the last employment equity status report prepared by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in January 2016, women are well represented in all occupational groups at the NAC, and nearly half of all positions are held by women. That's above the industry average. In that regard, our performance contributes to better representation of women throughout the industry.
Unfortunately, when we look at the numbers of women as artistic directors in Canada overall, we still have a long way to go. At one point last year, we were surprised to learn that Jillian Keiley, Director of our English theatre, was the only female artistic director among the largest non-profit theatres in Canada as a result of a number of shifts that have occurred in recent years. Since then, thankfully, we have seen the appointment of a number of brilliant female artistic directors. They include Ashlie Corcoran at the Arts Club in Vancouver and Eda Holmes at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal. Still, among larger theatres, artistic directors remain predominantly male.
In the orchestral world, music directors are predominantly men. However, the numbers increase at the executive director level. Of the 10 major orchestras in Canada, 60% of the executive directors are women.
In the dance community, we see many women choreographers heading companies, which they have sometimes founded themselves. However, when we look at ballet organizations, we see that women in high-level positions—such as Karen Kain of the National Ballet of Canada, and Emily Molnar, at Ballet BC—are fairly rare.
In the recorded music industry, there's significant representation of women at the executive director and artistic director levels in major non-profit music festivals, but in commercial festivals, there are very few women at the top. To have more women, more of them need opportunities for internships, apprenticeships, and experience in supporting roles. However, most organizations can't afford to invest in employees at that level, and funds for apprenticeships are limited. To help increase the number of women artistic directors, more training opportunities need to be created.
In theatre, we are encouraged that more training opportunities are becoming available. In Montreal, that training includes the new artistic director program at the National Theatre School, the HEC international arts management master's program, and there's the Queen's University master's in arts leadership program. There's another one coming in the west that I'm not yet allowed to share with anyone, and that's very good news.
Let us switch gears now and talk about boards of directors. Achieving gender parity at the board level is critical, particularly in large institutions such as performing arts centres, festivals, orchestras, and our museums. The good news is that many arts organizations in Canada are trying to address gender parity on their boards. The Professional Association of Canadian Theatre's pledge initiative has challenged arts organizations to address gender inequality, including their boards.
There's a similar movement in the Canadian music industry. As you may be aware, the group Across the Board, led by music industry leaders Keely Kemp and Joanne Setterington, is working with a number of boards on gender parity in the hopes of creating a healthier industry for everyone. That advocacy group's target is 50% women on the boards of directors of organizations by the year 2020.
We believe that the federal government is doing an excellent job of addressing gender parity on boards of arts and cultural organizations through its open application, Governor in Council appointments process. Through that process, in partnership with the federal government, the National Arts Centre has been able to recruit a remarkably talented representational board that has gender parity. It includes five female trustees besides the chair: our Vice-Chair Susan Glass of Winnipeg; Gail O'Brien from Calgary, who chairs our capital planning committee—as you know we've gone through a big building campaign; Kim Bozak from Toronto, a marketing expert, chairs that committee; and Tracee Smith, by definition a financial expert from Toronto. The terrific men on our board include Don Walcot of Montreal, who chairs audit and finance; Enrico Scichilone, un avocat, chairs our governance, nominating, and ethics committee, as well as our human resources committee. As well, Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, Mayor of Gatineau, and Ottawa mayor Jim Watson are in their ex officio roles as members of the board.
Here, ladies and gentlemen, is perhaps a helpful twist. In addition, many institutions at the government level have it right in their bylaws to add advisers or outside board members to their committees, much like they do in the private sector. These members have a vote at the committee level and, as you know, the recommendations of a committee are strong endorsements for a board. Our outside board members also include a number of brilliant women, including Toby Greenbaum, formerly of Public Works; Susan Cartwright, who led the public service—both of whom are from Ottawa; Elizabeth Roscoe from Chelsea; and Louise Sicuro, an outstanding cultural leader in Quebec.
Finally, Madam Chair, the NAC CEO and artistic leadership and senior management teams are in frequent touch with our colleagues from across the country, and they have sometimes assisted with questions on governance matters when we are asked. Throughout Canada, arts organizations are working to improve the representation of women at the board and artistic director level. We applaud the federal government for paying attention to this issue, and we are happy to help this important cause in every possible way.
To close, our experience at the NAC has been that a culture that values diversity is key to achieving gender parity within an organization. How do create such a culture? Well, it starts at the top. When a strong leadership chases diversity at the top—that is, at senior management, the board, and artistic leadership levels—it infuses the rest of the organization. The result is a more balanced, inclusive organization that truly reflects our society.
Thank you very much. I will gladly answer your questions.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to thank everyone. These presentations have been very eloquent, as I think the cultural community is—in any case, we would like to think so—progressive in nature to begin with, and probably more so than other sectors.
Ms. Burns, you talked about the fact that change should come from the top. Of course, both you and your board of trustees are perfect examples of that. However, I sometimes wonder whether we have an issue with middle management in society when it comes to achieving parity.
We can have organizations like yours that promote parity in concrete terms, from top to bottom, but we have a problem. Could we do something to generate interest in those positions among candidates likely to be interested in occupying them?
For example, I am thinking of the testimony of a volunteer from the Musée de la femme in Longueuil, who once organized an activity for women in order to encourage them to participate in the boards of directors of businesses she was familiar with and to apply.
Entrepreneur Alexandre Taillefer took the time to make a presentation to encourage women to apply for these positions. Would that kind of an initiative be an example of what we could accomplish? In my opinion, you have some good examples to tap into and show. However, natural candidates do not seem to be common.
I'd also like to thank you for the opportunity to be involved in these discussions.
At Rosebud School of the Arts, we are unique and the questions that you ask are interesting, because I think they mean different things to different people. When we talk about a definition of a cultural hub, as an example, we are more than the hub. We're the also the spokes in the wheel. Our theatre and school are the reasons the community continues to exist. We're about an hour outside of Calgary in a hamlet with a population of about 100 people. Everyone in the hamlet is connected to the School of the Arts or to the theatre component, whether they be bed and breakfasts, RV camping sites, or all of those different things. Of course, the original intention of our group was the educational component, so our school for the students is why the theatre is there, and it raises funds so we can offer the educational opportunities to those people.
It's a transformational community. We completely change the lives of our students, and we also offer patrons an opportunity to enjoy culture and the arts in a rural setting in some really interesting historic sites like our opera house and whatnot.
We've been asked what role government can play. I think one of the important things we want to emphasize today—and I'm sure that you all have the notes and the background information—is that we are unique. Because we are unique, we're a little different from than a lot of cultural hubs, which sometimes can be identified as a pinpoint in an urban centre and could be subsidized up to around 60% to 70%. The funding we receive because we're in a rural community with a rural municipality is approximately two per cent of our budget. We spend a disproportionate amount of time raising funds to carry on. I think we do pretty well, because we've been there for 40 years offering education, professional theatre, and exposing our students to what's available there.
The dirty word of course is always money. This is one of the things that we talk about because we don't think the arts and exposure to culture is an urban thing. We think it's a Canadian thing. Our belief is that it needs to be made available to the students in rural as well as urban Canada, and it's very important that it be easily accessed.
I'm going to move along so I don't use up too much time.
The greatest obstacles of course are the funding, which I mentioned, but it's also hard to attract corporate sponsorship because we are not very visible. This is a very tiny community off the beaten path. I mentioned that we don't have the same type of funding opportunities, and we have to do our marketing to a broader audience. We have 30,000-plus people come to Rosebud Theatre in the small community, as I mentioned, but we have to draw from a large area to bring those people from the larger centres. There has to be a commitment to go there, because there are no transportation options other than people arranging it themselves. We've been very fortunate to have some wonderful patrons who have helped us.
The benefits of course are bringing the organizations together. We have a community now that is more than just a hub, as I said. The reason it is there is arts and culture. It brings a diverse group of people together and allows our students to see professionals at work. We draw professionals from all across the country for our productions, and it's a very rich experience.
Without going too much further into it, I look forward to any questions there may be.
Frank is one of our experts.
Thank you very much again for the opportunity to speak today.
Thank you, Madam Chair, and my thanks to members of the committee for this opportunity.
I'd like to mention that I have the honour of serving on the board of Rosebud, so you should underline everything that you just heard, plus more. I'd like to add as much pizzazz as I can to their presentation. It truly is a remarkable organization that deserves all the support it can get.
Some of you may or may not know Arts Commons by that name. It used to be the Calgary Centre for Performing Arts. At another time, it was called the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts. For four or five years, it has been called Arts Commons. I'll speak a little bit more about that in a minute.
This facility was opened in downtown Calgary in 1985. It was three theatres for three resident companies, which really was a typical first generation performing arts centre, or, as we labelled it in our industry, a “palace” for the arts. It was somewhat exclusive, somewhat removed—or maybe a lot exclusive.
Since then, we've opened our doors. We now have seven resident companies. We have six formal performance spaces, two educational or community spaces, as well as visual and media art galleries. We have a theatre café, rehearsal and community spaces. We're now what I would call a typical generation-five gathering space.
In our industry, we track the development of these spaces and the different roles they play over time in communities, in the country, and in North America.
The heart of Calgary's creative district is exactly where Arts Commons is positioned. It's a five-minute walk from a number of cultural amenities. If you're familiar with the Walk Score company, which tracks walkability, Arts Commons' walk score is 97 out of 100. It is actually called a walker's paradise, which means it is close to the city hall, the central library, the Glenbow Museum, the Telus Convention Centre, the National Music Centre, the Vertigo Theatre, the Lunchbox Theatre, Theatre Junction Grand, the Olympic Plaza, the Plaza Theatre, and the Stephen Avenue Walk.
In an average year, we host about 1,500 events, and more than 200 community user-groups now use our facility on a regular basis, in addition to the six resident companies and our own resident company. We serve about 600,000 people every year. According to Deloitte, which did an economic impact study a couple of years ago, our annual economic impact is $87 million.
We're very proud of the fact that we reach more than 43,000 students with curriculum-connected programming, and we engage more than 1,400 artists annually. These are performing artists, visual artists, media artists, and others. And we employ about 234 FTEs. Our community invests about 23,000 volunteer hours, annually.
Based on all that I've just said, I think you'll agree that we are truly a cultural hub in a cultural or creative district. Our mission is to bring the arts to life, to be an inclusive and inspirational gathering place for all. Hence the word “commons”. This includes new Canadians, for which we have specific programs to welcome them into our city and our country.
Due to a city population that has doubled since the opening in 1985, the ever-expanding diversity in Calgary, and the increasing demand for diverse cultural gathering spaces and opportunities, we need to expand Arts Commons. This is a delightful dilemma to have. We need to revitalize Calgary's downtown urban cultural district. For that purpose, over the past two years, we have been working with all levels of government on an Arts Commons transformation and capital expansion project, or ACT. It will provide much-needed additional access, inclusion, financial sustainability, and a flexible multi-use gathering space for current and future audiences and users of all descriptions.
Some of the things that I think would help the development of new cultural hubs, and the sustaining of current cultural hubs such as Arts Commons, are streamlining, fast-tracking, and aligning various government application and funding programs; lowering the access threshold, especially for emerging and community arts organizations and individuals; and increasing predictable sustainability through multi-year funding for projects and the operation and maintenance of spaces.
Another recommendation we might submit is to develop a national certification for cultural spaces, cultural programs, and people who invest in such programs, such as developers, architects, designers, etc., and to identify them as such, in order to create incentives, a common language, criteria that we all understand, and a shared vision.
Another thing that will certainly help is to make it easier, through less red tape, to develop and implement new, innovative, and creative ideas, which are risky by design. This can be done through city planning, development, codes, permitting, funding, and so on, and making the process more seamless.
I have two more recommendations, if I may.
One is to try to remove a lot of the risk for emerging artists or for diverse and indigenous communities to launch micro-businesses in the arts and cultural field. The risk of doing that is huge for individuals and emerging groups. If the risk could be removed or lessened, through some government means, by some subsidy system, from something like a creative risk fund, it would certainly help this creative innovation to happen without undue risk to folks who don't do it for the money.
The final recommendation is to fund and finance developers of cultural spaces. My board chair is a very successful developer in Calgary. His heart is in the right place, but I think it will be very hard for him to develop a less-than-profitable cultural space without some incentive. I know he would do it with some incentive, for the common good. I think the investing in Canada plan is a good program, but provincial relationships and priorities are not always predictable. Such anchor institutions—which might take place with the proper incentives and motivation—have the economic potential to leverage their assets and revenue to promote local sector development and private artists, and to increase the social impact. Ultimately, this is what this is all about.
Thank you for inviting me to speak today.
Today, in representing the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, I am representing 800 fairs, exhibitions, and agricultural societies across Canada, from the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto right down to the one-day Havelock Fair in Quebec. Together, in total, we see about 35 million visitors each year.
Fairs are living reflections of the life and times around them. They hold deep cultural, traditional, and emotional connections to the people of their local area and embody a sense of community.
In fact, there are several examples of fairs that are older than Canada itself. There's the Hants County Exhibition in Nova Scotia, which is 252 years old. We also have the Williamstown Fair in Ontario, which is 206 years old, and the Lachute Fair in Quebec, which is 193 years old.
I highlight this point, because in a nation so young it can sometimes be hard to identify what is truly Canadian. We identify ourselves with our Tim Hortons, our diversity, our manners, and our hockey, but that just scratches the surface of our culture.
Fairs are institutions that have grown with their communities over decades of progress and development. I would therefore argue that fairs are one of the first cultural hubs to exist in Canada and one of the best reflections of Canadian culture. Our culture is shared in our collective history, but also in our evolving stories and values. In a short time in even the smallest rural community, we make a significant impact. Our fairs showcase local arts and entertainment, we educate the population on all sorts of topics, and we are also one of the few social gathering places that reflect the diversity of Canadians through the visitors, the food selections, and even the activities we bring to the table.
For example, this year the CNE has developed a unique program entitled “The Silk Road to the CNE” that will celebrate the cultures of the ancient trading route established by Marco Polo. They will feature the world's largest indoor lantern festival, showcasing characters from fables and children's stories from these countries. They will also have cultural cuisine, performing artists, and an Asian night market, as well as hosting a three-day business forum emphasizing global trade, with a particular emphasis on exporting to China.
In Winnipeg, the Red River Exhibition has made significant strides in engaging newcomers by specifically inviting them to the event and allowing them to picnic on site so that they feel welcome.
Several of you may have fairs in your own constituencies, so I am confident you understand what I am referring to when I speak to the vibrancy of these events. If you don't, I strongly encourage you to visit a fair this summer, because one of the best representations of our events is to experience them first-hand.
Our struggle, however, is that we are not often recognized as a cultural hub, so my main recommendation today is that the Department of Canadian Heritage actively recognize fairs and exhibitions as cultural hubs.
Arts equals culture, but culture does not exclusively equal arts. Culture is tradition, arts, and heritage—fundamentally, a broad and true representation of society. Cultural hubs are both permanent and temporary locations that reflect society. Fairs, therefore, are the perfect example.
In terms of how the government can help cultural hubs, I've been listening over the past few weeks to other witnesses, and I strongly agree with many of their points, including the ever-popular need for operational funding, the need to educate boards and volunteers, and the need for more flexibility in the language when it comes to granting and funding opportunities.
To that third example, there is funding specific to festivals. However, many of my members do not qualify because of the language used or the restrictions in place. Another great example is the Canada 150 funding. Several of my members applied for funding and didn't receive any, due in large part to the fact that they were considered an agricultural fair rather than a cultural event. As I have explained, we are much more than that one-dimensional agricultural fair.
My final recommendation is that the government help fairs and exhibitions by assisting us with collecting data about our events. This applies to cultural hubs as well. We were fortunate enough to have a funded study completed in 2008, but that information is now considered significantly outdated. A new study would help us defend our influence and impact. The 2008 study showed, for example, that 89% of fair visitors agree that fairs are a major social gathering for the community, 94% agree that events like these are important to Canadian traditions, and 88% agree that these events enhance the quality of life for people in the regions. These numbers have been extremely useful to us, but I'm confident they've increased, as too have the numbers of volunteers who have been engaged and our economic impact.
Overall, I commend the committee for taking on this study, as it is such an integral part of Canadian society. As one of the oldest and most modern cultural hubs in Canada, we at CAFE look forward to working with you throughout this process.
Good morning, everyone.
My name is Martin Théberge. I am the President of the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française, or the FCCF. I am joined by Marie-Christine Morin, the federation's Acting Executive Director.
The FCCF is the national voice of arts and culture in Canada's francophonie. Its vision is to inspire, mobilize and transform Canada through arts and culture.
Its network brings together seven national arts service groups, 13 organizations dedicated to cultural and artistic development in 11 Canadian provinces and territories, as well as a group of performing arts presentation networks and a network of community radio stations. With its network of 22 members in Canada, the FCCF oversees 3,125 artists and more than 150 organizations, from over 180 French-speaking communities. For 40 years, it has been promoting artistic and cultural expression in francophone and Acadian communities.
I want to begin by thanking you for the opportunity to appear before you today. We will focus our comments on the concept of creative centres, their relevance and their potential with respect to our common objectives to support the development and enhance the vitality of francophone and Acadian communities across Canada.
I have come to talk to you about a dream, a vision related to the development of our sector and our minority communities.
I cannot talk to you today about what has been accomplished because the concept of creative centres in Canadian francophonie is not yet a reality, but rather an idea that can lead to many opportunities.
At the FCCF, we are developing ideas, and we want to share with you the fruit of our consideration, which is ongoing and is increasingly destined to translate into action.
I will start at the beginning. After the government announced its “Creative Canada” vision, the FCCF established itself as part of the solution, as a champion of new ideas to modernize its sector, to achieve “real” reconciliation between the government and its community partners.
It is in this spirit that we have put forward concepts like the creation of solution design teams, and innovation centres such as living laboratories and creative centres.
We took the concept of “by and for” further. These are creative centres by and for the Canadian francophonie, but we have added a “with” to the concept. I will focus on that element over the next few minutes.
The FCCF champions innovative ideas. We have demonstrated all the creativity for which we are renowned in coming up with our best contribution to innovation—a network of creative centres across the francophonie.
We dared to push the concept of creative centres further by adding a social innovation centre to those creative centres. We have created a kind of a conceptual marriage between creative centres and the development of francophone and Acadian communities. We have added a social innovation centre animated by a mobile design team, which helps stimulate those spaces and rally not only stakeholders from our sector, but also users and the community, in order to find solutions that resonate and bring people together.
Here is a concrete example. Let's imagine a creative centre where community stakeholders come together and share resources. Let's imagine a mobile solution design team that is active in that collaboration space that could, for example, be located at the Aberdeen Cultural Centre, in Moncton. Let's imagine a brainstorming session on the development of young audiences aimed at early childhood for all of Acadia.
All of a sudden, the entire user community is coming together to find solutions: child care workers, our distribution network in Acadia RADARTS, our artists, the Department of Education, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, or the ACOA, the Faculty of Education at the Université de Moncton or the Université Sainte-Anne, and the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Everyone is there to find solutions that will ensure the community's development and vitality. We could test those solutions on a small scale before making major investments in order to assess them and then scale them up.
Our network is ready to activate those cultural centres and social innovation centres, which will help modernize the sector.
That will have a major impact on all issues related to communities, in addition to encouraging intersectoral exchanges. The interest and expertise are there.
If investments were planned not only for infrastructure, as is currently the case with the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, and funding was added to have those centres animated by mobile teams, we would have a real space and means to create and think differently, in a more global way. That is what we mean when we say “by, for and with”.
Through the design concept, we are already connected to stakeholders in our communities. Measures that can be used as levers are necessary to activate expertise on the ground, animate spaces and make them alive, so that they would have the desired effect on our communities' development.
Our cultural, arts and community centres are prime locations and spaces best suited to accommodate those centres. The technology we are looking at to deploy such creative platforms would be installed and available to as many people in our communities as possible.
Creative centres are a new and different way to promote creation, and to encourage partnerships and interdisciplinarity. They engage us in innovation and represent a potential that has so far been underdeveloped in terms of unique possibilities provided by our small size and small numbers.
Creative centres represent an openness toward structuring initiatives likely to open up new possibilities for us. Ideally, we want to establish a network of creative centres and innovation centres in well-defined cultural hubs of the Canadian francophonie.
We are looking beyond the spaces; we are looking beyond the concrete. For us, this is an opportunity to give ourselves a prime workspace to meet challenges and the specific needs of the Canadian francophonie. For that space to be vibrant, it must be animated.
The expertise in social innovation required to animate those locations must be thought out and funded through that social development project Canada wants to give itself. The development of the arts sector also goes through innovation. This is the way forward, and the possibilities are there. The Canadian francophonie wants to spread.
For creative centres to work, people have to animate them and get locals to think differently. That requires drivers of change, people who think outside the box and engage various stakeholders in the search for solutions. That is the missing element in the current project. That element is vital if we want our infrastructure to be meaningful.
Our entire network is enthusiastic about the idea of positive outcomes and advantages that our communities could potentially see thanks to the contribution of a network of creative centres in the Canadian francophonie.
Thank you for listening.
I am now ready to answer your questions.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you all for your presentations.
Arts Commons is a perfect example of the kind of cultural centre that could be part of the program we have been tasked with studying.
I want to commend you for your passion, Ms. Franc, because it is not easy to come and give a presentation here. It reminds me of my colleague's enthusiasm when he spoke to us about an antique car show at the beginning of our study. It is true that all of that is also part of culture.
There is no doubt about the importance of the social gathering. At Thanksgiving every year, when I go to the village of Ayer's Cliff, there is a farmers' market on Sunday. It brings the whole community out, and it is a gathering that enhances the quality of life. This is similar to the objectives of the cultural hubs program.
I encourage you to be very creative, however, and to make a significant contribution to our study if you want to be part of this program. That will give us hope that you are committed to the development of culture, the arts or a community.
Of course, if we are talking about a fair where everyone is trading pumpkin pie recipes, that can be very local, but it is of course a cultural activity. But is that also true of an event with rides, a Ferris wheel, and so forth?
If we want to invest in a francophone community, we have to adapt and not just steamroll along with all the equipment from one place to another. Thinking outside the box is important. That is what helps us make progress.
Thank you, Mr. Théberge, for your very charismatic and vibrant presentation. It reminds me of the first times that groups representing cultural interests—ceramic artists or musicians, such as those represented by Music Canada—appeared before the committee.
We have a large francophone community that is spread out across the country and that often struggles a great deal because it is isolated in remote regions. Do you think the cultural hubs program would give Canada's francophone community an additional criterion in order to promote exchanges in French?
For example, would you like the program to have a more mobile dimension or do you see it more from the traveller's point of view? I am thinking of Charlottetown, which has an outstanding cultural centre that has not yet been designated as such, although it certainly is one. There are buds all over the place and sometimes more than buds—in the case of the Arts Commons, which is clearly working well.
In my opinion, the FCCF needs to address one of the fundamental issues for francophone culture to survive and flourish. What are your thoughts?
I think there are two parts to that question.
As to the first part, there can indeed be partnerships in the case of agricultural fairs and cultural activities held in the community. For example, before I began my current duties, I took part in the Hants County Exhibition, which is in its 252nd year. In short, there are partnerships with cultural organizations.
That said, in terms of a creative centre in downtown Calgary, you have to realize that the anglophone community will automatically take over, for demographic reasons. Let there be no mistake. The Action Plan for Official Languages reported certain statistics. In particular, it indicated that our population has declined from 6% to 3.4% of the total population. If nothing is done, I expect it will be just 3% by 2036. Something has to be done. To be blunt, I would say that by failing to use a francophone lens in your study today, you are in a way contributing to the assimilation we are undergoing.
The other aspect is as follows. If you use that francophone lens, we would ask you to understand our reality, our geography, and our demographics. You can go beyond the first phase, which focuses on physical spaces, including the district and buildings. That is fine. We cannot object to that in any way. Moreover, I don't think anyone has been opposed to that during the discussions so far.
What we are asking you is to go a step further in your thinking and address the social and technological aspects right away. That means asking what the second phase of the project will be and what activities will take place at these buildings. If the question is how the activities will be conducted, I encourage you to consider the next question immediately, which is what approach can be taken for Canada's francophone community, since we are a very small community that is very spread out and remote. In my opinion, a mobile team is needed, with a social dimension, along with a solutions development team that will not only consider the situation, but that will put the users at the centre of that solution, that is, the creators, artists, and community organizations.