Good morning, everyone.
I want to begin my address by expressing my gratitude to the Algonquin people. It is an honour to speak here on their spectacular unceded territory today.
I am the Co-Chair of the Canadian Arts Coalition. Many of you know that the coalition is a non-partisan, volunteer movement spearheaded by a group of national arts service organizations, including my organization, the Canadian Dance Assembly. Collectively we represent thousands of artists and hundreds of arts organizations across the country.
I also want to acknowledge the incredible leaders I spoke to in preparing this brief, at arts organizations and at the funders. I especially want to recognize the co-presidents of my board at the Canadian Dance Assembly: Consultant Soraya Peerbaye, and Gitxsan and Cree Artistic Director Margaret Grenier. Canada has a truly extraordinary group of leaders paying attention to the issue of gender parity.
I have been an arts manager since 1996 and have lived the statistics that I'm going to share with you today. There are so many women working in the arts, but the jobs for women are precarious, and they are rarely stable leadership positions. Since August 2017, after the publication of Bob Ramsay's second article in the Toronto Star about the predominantly white and male boards of directors at the large legacy institutions in Toronto, I have been talking about this problem.
Ramsay's article is corroborated in many different studies, notably by the annual report card by the Canadian Board Diversity Council, which indicates that of the arts organizations surveyed, 74.5% of board members were male and 25.5% were female.
Today, I have four recommendations to present to you, about research and about regulatory action.
Here are some current statistics from several artistic disciplines. I am sure that as members of Parliament you have heard data from many different sectors. I present this data about the arts today with a sense of urgency, because although the arts sector's leadership may not be predominantly female, our audiences are predominantly female and progressive. Audiences in the arts are consistently in decline, perhaps because they don't see themselves reflected in the artwork presented. For this economic reason, the arts sector must change now.
Here come the statistics. In Canadian music, the annual salary of women was 20% lower than the industry average, and only 10% of women held executive positions.
In visual arts we see different leadership depending upon the size of gallery. On the surface, the stats look great: 70% women curators to 30% men, 92% being Caucasian. The bigger the gallery, however, the less likely it is for a woman to be the curator.
Next, we have the sector that I work in. Women form the vast majority of dancers, at 84%. Perhaps it's not surprising that dance is one of the poorest paid of the arts occupations, but men are still prioritized as artistic directors and as choreographers.
We also see women disadvantaged in the world of Canadian literature. Studies show “an undeniable gender bias, one that overwhelming favour[s] male authors”, as is evidenced by the reviewing practices: only 30% of books reviewed by male critics were written by women, which means that women's books are less likely to sell well and less likely to be considered for major awards.
Moving on to Canadian theatre, women occupy less than 35% of the major leadership roles, such as artistic director, director, and playwright.
Then in the deaf, mad, and disability arts domain, 100% of the contributors who produce deaf art, mad art, or disability-identified art are female-led organizations, yet—or perhaps as a result—these arts organizations are significantly underfunded.
Of course, this data is not surprising to any woman who works in the arts.
Although there is a clear wealth of data in the field, we need a comprehensive picture of the role of women in the arts. I want to add my voice to the other witnesses who've already appeared before the standing committee to ask the Department of Canadian Heritage to compile the existing research and paint a picture of the sector so that we know exactly where the bias exists and where we need to change.
My first recommendation is to instruct the Department of Canadian Heritage to conduct a literature review on gender parity in the arts, with attention to artistic directors and boards of directors. I want to encourage Canadian Heritage to work with the Ontario Arts Council because they are currently undertaking a study, an Ontario-focused a literature review, on this exact subject.
Why do we need to change who sits on boards of directors? For me, if we change who sits on the boards, it will impact who is hired as artistic director, who is hired as executive director, and then it goes on down to the staff level. There's a wealth of data from the organization DiverseCity onBoard and the Conference Board of Canada that demonstrate that female and diverse leaders enhance innovation, and strengthen cohesion and social capital.
In March, the president of FedEx Express Canada, Lisa Lisson, wrote on the CBC news site that “We know [that] boards with women on them outperform their rivals, deliver higher returns, and are more aggressive about taking initiative”. Lisson argues that it is just good business practice to have diverse boards.
The House of Commons and the Senate agreed with Lisson last week by passing Bill . I want to thank Mr. for pointing me in the direction of Bill C-25. The bill includes a provision that reads, “directors of a prescribed corporation shall place before the shareholders, at every annual meeting, the prescribed information respecting diversity among the directors and among the members of senior management”.
Unfortunately, this provision does not apply to not-for-profit organizations included in the legislation. They are not part of this specific provision. I called Corporations Canada yesterday to check. So, here comes recommendation 2, which is to instruct Corporations Canada to find a regulatory mechanism to require registered not-for-profit organizations to comply with the expectation of diversity in Bill .
The Canada Council for the Arts has been quietly working on gender parity for two years. Recently, the council put out an RFP that stated, “The Council wishes to develop and pilot an online survey to track the demographic makeup of the workforce and boards of organizations that receive core funding.” The quantitative data will include “gender, age, cultural diversity, Indigenous, Official Languages, Official Languages Minority Communities, disability, age etc. The survey will be completed by the employees and Board of the organizations, not by the organizations themselves.”
Very clearly, they're not asking the executive directors to guess on the status of their board members or their staff.
It goes on to say that the “RFP is for a pilot survey with a small cohort of organizations that will inform future decisions about grant conditions.” The results of this pilot survey will be critical to move the issue of gender parity forward, because, of course, arts organizations are going to pay attention to what the major federal funders are doing.
Recommendation 3 is to require the Canada Council for the Arts to report back to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on the results of the pilot survey and encourage the Canada Council to look at additional equity policies, especially in the program called Engage and Sustain, which is for the large arts organizations.
Of course, board composition is an incredibly complex issue. Boards are made up of volunteers, who can be difficult to find, especially in less populated areas. However, publicly funded organizations have a responsibility to reflect Canadian society. One problem I heard repeatedly was volunteer fatigue, particularly among indigenous, disabled, and racialized communities. Volunteering for a board of directors takes time and labour. Often, women turn down the opportunity to participate on boards because it is financially unfeasible to volunteer. Therefore, this last recommendation is pivotal.
For recommendation 4, I'm recommending that the Canada Revenue Agency permit charities—because most of the arts organizations I work with are registered charities—to change their bylaws in order to offer an honorarium to marginalized board members for their volunteer work. I think this would be a really important move to reduce volunteer fatigue so that we're not going to the same indigenous leaders over and over again to sit on all these boards, so that we could have more women and marginalized people represented on the boards. It would be a recognition of the labour that they're undertaking in taking these positions on our arts organizations' boards of directors.
Lastly, I want to point out that I have not recommended the creation of a mentorship program today. There are numerous well-established mentorship programs in the arts open to women. This is not the problem. Bias and discrimination in hiring practices in search firms and on boards of directors are the problem.
To conclude, I really want to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for your boldness to address this sensitive topic of leadership in the arts. Together I hope we can build a better, more respectful arts sector for our daughters.
Thank you, Madam Chair and committee, for the invitation to be part of this important discussion around gender parity.
My name is Julia Ouellette. I am the board Chair of MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada. I've served in this role for six years.
MOCA aims to define the role of the 21st-century museum, in that we want above all to be welcoming and relevant, a reflection of the diversity, complexity, and plurality of the world in which we live.
We are a mid-sized institution with an annual operating budget of $6 million and a full-time salaried staff of 20. We are currently in transition from 13,000 square feet in our home on Queen Street West to a new 55,000-square-foot home in the lower Junction community within MP Dzerowicz's riding, just west of the downtown core. Our institution is scaling up dramatically and will have its international grand opening in September 2018.
This growth has serious implications for management and board. When radically stretching an institutional facility, its budget, organizational structure, human and management resources, a strong board, and staff leadership are essential for success.
MOCA does not have a traditional gender parity issue. Both its board and senior staff are predominantly women.
I'll speak about the board first.
Ours includes 17 directors, 10 of whom are women. We all recognize that the best decisions are made when people with different perspectives weigh in on the conversation. In building our board, we opted for a skills-based approach with a view to ensuring that required expertise would be around the table, while also considering a suite of diversity factors.
Our governance committee analyzes the board according to this matrix, identifies gaps, and then looks for and carefully considers skilled individuals to fill them.
How or why has this led MOCA primarily to attract highly competent women?
We believe the answer lies in our mission and values: inclusion and welcome, community focus, strong youth engagement, and putting artists at the centre of what we do.
Contemporary art considers the vital issues of our time. It is progressive by definition. This is compelling to, and resonates with, women.
Has gender imbalance hurt us to this point? I don't think so. Could it hurt us down the road? Possibly.
Long-term sustainability is a board priority. Over 75% of MOCA's annual budget is raised from private sources, including donations, sponsorships, memberships, and special fundraising events.
How does MOCA access pools of capital in our community to fund our institution?
Much of wealth is controlled by men, both privately and corporately. We all understand the history. The shift of wealth will take time, as women become bigger earners in the workforce and assume more leadership positions in corporate Canada. Women are not yet equal influencers when it comes to directing funding and wealth. A board that is skewed toward women may suffer because of this. A study to understand the impact that board parity has on fundraising would be meaningful.
Furthermore, I wonder whether there is any correlation between the size of institutional budget and the number of men versus women on the board. Is there a trend? This would also be interesting data to capture in a study.
Finally, as it relates to boards, I would like to make a comment regarding age.
One of the roles MOCA sees for itself in advancing women in the not-for-profit boardroom is that of mentor. We are proud of the fact that our board is multi-generational. From those in their twenties to those in their sixties, we have representation. As such, our more experienced board members serve as role models and mentors to less-experienced, younger members, making them sought-after candidates for other institutions.
For the younger generation, reaching gender parity is imperative, and its value is obvious. Governance practice, including board development, are very strategic and deliberate processes. Our next generation needs to be mentored in this area. To reach gender parity, we need to teach the next generation how to do it. It won't just happen.
Government funding that supports the mentorship of the next generation of senior volunteers would be valuable. This is also important because boards of directors oversee recruitments for the top jobs.
This brings me to my thoughts regarding leadership and senior management. MOCA's CEO and four directors of programs, finance and administration, development, and marketing and communication are all women. How did that happen? We simply chose the applicants best qualified for the positions. We require a strong and highly competent senior team, and ours just happens to be exclusively made up of women.
MOCA's board recently hired both its CEO and director of programs. I secretly hoped we would find women to fill both these positions. Why? Because there's a shortage of leading female voices in the visual arts space in Canada at the higher levels of management and at the large institutions.
That said, visual arts organizations are generally trending toward staff gender parity. This is particularly apparent at the senior management level. One can hope, but not assume, that these next-in-charge women are the likely future CEOs and executive directors. While this is encouraging, there is work to be done to close the opportunity gap for these women.
The recruiters from the executive search firm retained by MOCA for our CEO recruitment believe that the pool of female talent is growing, but that systemic barriers still limit them in getting the top jobs.
I encourage the committee to review the U.S.-based Association of Art Museum Directors' 2014 and 2017 studies entitled “The Gender Gap in Art Museum Directorships” and “The Ongoing Gender Gap in Art Museum Directorships”. They do a fantastic job of benchmarking gender parity and related pay-scale discrepancies against institutional mandate and budget size, while outlining interesting details regarding the systemic barriers mentioned by MOCA's headhunter, and commenting on the leadership style of men versus women.
Capacity-building, leadership training, and mentorship opportunities for those who show promise are essential if we are to see a gender balance at the highest levels of management. Unfortunately, small and mid-sized organizations lack the funds to support this kind of talent incubation.
Government support would go a long way. I recommend that the government consider focusing funding opportunities at small and mid-sized organizations that play an important role in incubating talent for the majors.
With regard to both of our recent senior hires, the successful candidates brought international experience to the table. Our CEO hails from Toronto, but spent 20-plus years working primarily in the U.K. and U.S. Our director of programs was born in the U.K. and worked in Turkey and the Middle East for a dozen years. We recognized that they would add a unique perspective to our program, and would clearly benefit our institution and the arts industry.
When we look at a cross-section of five of the largest visual arts institutions across the country, only one is led by a Canadian. The four international leaders include two females and two males. So, while there is gender parity there, Canadians are not favoured. How can we change that and help Canadian women prepare for the top jobs?
When homegrown talent participates in international training programs—the Getty Leadership Institute for museum leaders is a good example—it boosts their career opportunities in Canada and beyond. While the risk is that we might lose some of our best and brightest future leaders to other parts of the world, the upside is that some will continue to work in Canada.
Leadership, mentorship, and continuing education programs should be embedded into institutions across the country. Universities would do well to expand and put more emphasis on cultural leadership within their curriculums. These are the channels for developing deep talent pools from which to draw our future leaders. Government encouragement and funding support can also help.
A question I ask myself is whether women are recusing themselves from the most senior leadership positions, and if so, why? Is carrying the bulk of family responsibilities, compounded with institutional leadership, deemed too much? If this is the cause, the solutions are complex societal ones and beyond the scope of cultural institutions alone.
Change happens over time and is often slow to evolve. If we look back at the profile of cultural institutions 10 or 15 years ago, there were so few women leaders. Today, those same institutions have changed, and we know that women are stepping into creative and executive leadership positions, as well as board roles, in a way they never have before.
Conversations like the one we are having today have a positive impact on gender parity, as will initiatives to support talented women. If we work together—board, management, and governments—I feel confident that we will continue to move in the right direction and that in the near future we will achieve gender parity within Canadian cultural organizations.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Thank you very much, ladies, for coming and informing us of the great progress you have made toward parity on your boards of directors.
Given our discussions this morning, I am pleased to see that my colleague Mr. Shields asked you to clarify the mandate of headhunters.
Ms. Ouellette, you have clearly identified what will be asked of your headhunters. I think that's part of the solution. The government as a whole needs to set standards. Parity on boards will become the new standard, period. But we need to do this.
Not so long ago, a witness made a nuance saying that, if there is a goal of parity to be achieved on the boards of directors, there is also one to be achieved on the executive committees and in the work environments. The board brings a certain philosophy to the company or organization, but the executive has a lot of power.
Madam Chair, please excuse me, but I absolutely must change the subject and propose that we move immediately to a public vote on the matter of the Chagall painting.
My motion asks that the committee invite National Gallery of Canada representatives and other witnesses to discuss the mess surrounding the Chagall painting in order to inform the public about what is happening. My motion reads as follows:
|| That the Committee invite the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Canada, Françoise Lyon, the director of the National Gallery, Marc Mayer, the Chairperson of the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board, Sharilyn J. Ingram, and the Department of Canadian Heritage, within 45 days, to explain decisions concerning Marc Chagall's La Tour Eiffel and Jacques-Louis David's Saint Jerome Hears the Trumpet of the Last Judgment and to account to the Committee for these decisions' cost to the public.
I think it's important that we discuss this topic today, in public. If we don't want politics to interfere with the administration of our major national museums, it's clearly better for the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to be interested in this matter, precisely to depoliticize it and so that we, as specialists in the House of Commons, in a special committee dealing with that, can shed light on this issue. The public needs to know how these great museums are managed and, ultimately, whether there will be serious financial penalties. As I said earlier, The Globe and Mail referred to a penalty imposed by Christie's in the order of $1 million.
I'm asking that we vote on this now, in public.