It is my great pleasure to be here with you all today to talk about a very important subject: the role of museums and Canadian heritage, and especially the role of community museums.
I thank you all for this opportunity. It's the first time that I'm making such a presentation.
I thought I would just start with telling you a little bit more about me because it will give you an idea of where I come from, if you'll permit me,
Madam Chair and members of the committee.
You know my name—I'm Gail Lord. My husband and I founded Lord Cultural Resources in 1981. We're both Canadians. This is the world's largest cultural planning entity. I was honoured a year ago with the Order of Canada, which I'm very proud of. I'm also an
Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
from the Government of France, and I have an LLD degree from McMaster University. I feel very honoured with all this.
Our company has offices worldwide, so I think we're a great example that you can achieve, in museums and heritage, the status of international renown in a creative industry.
We've conducted more than 2,700 assignments in 57 countries, and our clients include the Louvre—and when I say the Louvre I mean the Louvre in Paris, the Louvre in Lens, and the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, which just opened.
The proudest thing for me of all these statistics—and of course they're lived experiences; they're much more than statistics—is our work in Canada. We've done more than 400 projects across this country. That means assignments of museum planning, cultural planning, and museum development in every province and territory, in museums big and small, over 36 years. We continue to work in museums big and small.
In the national capital region where you are, we've conducted more than 20 assignments alone. We're working on the rehabilitation of the Centre Block of Parliament and the visitor's centre that will be established there in due course. So we're very involved in our nation's capital. You may know that my firm won the competition to do the Holocaust Monument, which I'm inordinately proud of, which is up and operating in Ottawa near the War Museum. The proudest moment for me—I think it's good for you to know this—is the 14 years I worked on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. Our master plan was submitted to the then Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chrétien, and was voted on unanimously by the House of Commons. This is so incredible. I think that the results in Winnipeg are very profound.
We've also worked for nine years with Pier 21 in Halifax. I just think that it speaks volumes both to the knowledge and experience that I'm privileged to have in our own country, and also worldwide. Without further ado I would like to briefly outline for you what I see as the strengths, the weaknesses, and the opportunities of the small and medium-size museum sector in Canada.
The first strength is the dedicated staff and volunteer base of our local museums and the museum communities all across Canada. There are very commendable efforts such as the Ottawa Museum Network with which we are working right now, and the Nova Scotia museum system with which we have worked over many years to support, promote, and build capacity among community museums. Community museums are so heavily reliant on volunteer support. The capacity building is a very big issue for them. The decentralization of our national museums—and I know national museums are not the subject today—is a great help because I'm not a believer in trickle-down economics, but I do believe in trickle-up and trickle-down influence. That brings tremendous expertise to each of the regions of the country in which these museums are located.
I think that combining the impetus of the national and provincial museums and their expertise with the local knowledge of the smaller museums is really a major theme.
Museums need to be seen as transformative institutions. Because they're largely voluntary, and they're so community-based, I think they're too often seen as, I don't know, “keepers of old stuff”. That's really no longer the main theme, although it's a theme of many of them. They're inspiring spaces. They're places where young people go to experience the real material history of their lives, their new lives if they're immigrants, their family lives if they're settled for a while, and their changing lives, because the lives of all Canadians are changing. So museums are really places where you can measure change, where you feel change.
So the idea of them being stale and stuffy, really nothing could be farther from the truth. They're also elevating and inspiring places, and they're places for aspiration, and again, I think we underestimate the aspirational value of community museums. In Toronto there's a new initiative called the Myseum which is to establish a Toronto museum. Toronto is actually the biggest city in the world that doesn't have a city museum. I know no one ever feels badly for Toronto, but it's a reality, and the group that's starting Myseum has private funding and they are making this museum happen as dialogues all across this huge city, and it's working. I attended an event a couple of weeks ago on the history of the ward, and there were a hundred people who showed up, and they were young. The fact that it happened to be in a brew pub probably contributed to it, but of course, in Toronto there are lots of brew pubs, and the fact is that that was a very exciting evening for people to attend.
So these are places, community museums in all their different forms, are places for what sociologists call bridging and bonding, and I think for Canada bridging and bonding is one of the most important things. We're proud of our immigration policies and rightly so. They changed fundamentally in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and I think that they're one of the most progressive aspects of our country today, and museums are places where people meet other people and create relationships, which is bridging cultures, and they're also where people bond, where they discover what they have in common. For us in Canada, especially at a time when we know that social media can be very very divisive, we have to understand that museums are inclusive and they're the opposite of divisive. They're bridging institutions. They're bonding institutions, and that would be pretty much the big idea there.
Now, what are some of the weaknesses? First of all, we have no federal museum policy.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My name is Eva Aariak and I am the president of Inuit Heritage Trust, based out of Iqaluit. Iqaluit is the capital city of Nunavut that was created in 1999. I'm very pleased to be here with our executive director, William Beveridge. Inuit Heritage Trust represents 27,000 Nunavut Inuit and receives its mandate from article 33 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement between Inuit and the Government of Canada.
I am sorry to say though that I don't have solid information about our museum because we don't have one in Nunavut. I'm going to elaborate a little bit more about that. I agree so much with many of the comments that the first speaker just said, in terms of how lively and inspirational museums are and I'm going to elaborate a little bit more on that as well.
Within the territory, the Inuit Heritage Trust represents Inuit interests on issues that relate to heritage, archeology, ethnographic resources, and traditional place names. William will be handing out, to each and every one of you, the map that this Inuit Heritage Trust has been working on over the last 20 years or so. This also includes spiritual places, of course, in our traditional sense.
The Nunavut agreement is the largest indigenous land claim settlement in Canadian history. Nunavut has 25 communities and the size of the territory is about one fifth of the land mass of Canada, or three time zones. Nunavut is the only jurisdiction without a designated heritage centre. Article 33 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement identifies the need to promote, protect, and preserve the natural and cultural heritage in Nunavut. The need for the territorial centre has been recognized for decades. It means so much to the people to have such a facility to showcase our rich history and culture. It has a direct impact on education, career development, tourism, and so on.
Our smaller communities have a very small scale of a building that they will showcase what they have in the communities, but in the territory, we don't have such a heritage centre to warehouse over 400,000 artifacts that depict the rich traditional knowledge and skills of our ancestors. Where are all these artifacts stored? They are not in Nunavut, unfortunately. That's the initiative that we've been fighting for.
These artifacts that rightfully belong to Nunavut are housed in various places, such as the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and other jurisdictions where there is a proper facility to store them. There is no such facility in Nunavut to keep them safe for years to come, so that our own children, grandchildren, and the next generation would have access to.
Museums are very much influencing our young people. What I'm wearing today is inspired by traditional design of our ancestors, but our youth today are very creative in adapting from what was and making it into modern contemporary art per se and design.
Can you imagine? If only these young artists and designers we have in Nunavut had access to see the true traditional designs our skilled ancestors created. It's only with what they know and can see from their parents and grandparents that they are inspired, creating wonderful garments, jewellery, implements, and so on.
There is much at stake in having a place where schoolchildren, youth, and even—I'm not so young anymore—my and William's age group can go, because we are always intrigued. Every time we go to a jurisdiction like Yellowknife or here, we are invited to see our stuff, our artifacts, and the clothing, tools, and implements that have been kept safe in the dark, in the drawer. Whenever there is a drawer that opens and you see all these artifacts, these beautiful creations of our ancestors, it always hits your heart.
I can imagine how touching it would be for our own children and grandchildren and the next generations to come to be able to enjoy what we have briefly seen in various jurisdictions. It's very important to our territory to have such a facility.
It is our hope and dream to be able to showcase artifacts in our own homeland, when someday a Nunavut heritage centre can finally become reality. Our heritage centre is very much working with Inuit organizations in Nunavut. We are continually trying to outreach to other entities, including the Government of Canada. We had wonderful meetings with government officials a few weeks ago here in Ottawa, explaining what we are doing. We will be providing the presentation that we gave when we were here once it's translated, and you'll have access to that.
We have 25 small communities ranging in population from 450 to 3,000, depending on where you are in the territory. They are trying hard to showcase their culture. To do that, they solicit a little money from the Government of Nunavut; they fundraise and so on, so that they can have a small place for visitors and youth and the community to have a little showcase. That is nowhere near what is needed in terms of a humidity-controlled, well-established facility, where we would be welcoming our rich cultural heritage information and so on. I'm talking more about the fact that we don't have such a facility, but I would very much like to entertain your questions for deeper information on what you want to know.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
It's not you? Oh. Okay.
I think that bill, whoever is sponsoring it, should be supported. I was misinformed, but that also happens in our country and everywhere else. I think repatriation, to the point that Eva Aariak is making, is really very foundational; and I think repatriation, of course as she's pointing out, does have costs attached because we have to make sure that, when works are repatriated, the proper process is undertaken and the proper facilities exist in the communities. So that's a cornerstone. And it's very interesting, by the way, that even in Europe, the idea of repatriation is gaining ground, although—alas—not for some collections that should be returned to Montreal. But that's maybe another story.
I think the issue is having a robust museum policy where our government actually takes a stand and says that museums are important, that they matter. They've made the statement about many other aspects of Canadian life: the CBC, the Canada Council. A number of other major institutions have received recognition in the last few years, but there hasn't been a museum policy now for many years, and museums have changed. I think that a policy should say that museums are part of Canada's soft power, and Canada is a soft power nation. Museums are fundamental to trade. They are places where international relations are celebrated. Museums are important in education. They're important in areas where federal government doesn't have jurisdiction but where federal government can offer incentives. I think my problem is that our incentives are episodic and they're unrelated.
I think the issue that was just raised around technology is a significant one. Yes, technology is important, but we're also seeing how divisive technology is. Human agency is actually what counts, including if the human agency is, as Eva Aariak has said, to actually study how this garment is made. I can have a close up of what she's wearing, and this dress is absolutely fantastic. If you are interested in design, students in design actually need to handle those older materials, they have to see how they were made, they have to open then up, and they have to look at the seams. It's the same for archival material. People want to learn what their relative did in World War I or World War II. It's one thing to see it online; it's a very different thing to see the actual death record or the actual birth record in its physical reality.
I think having a balanced view of the digital and the physical is really something that human beings need, to learn, and frankly if we don't, it's at our own peril. I don't know if that answers your questions fully, but it's a start.
Good morning. I'm Shauna Levy, president and CEO of Design Exchange, Canada's only museum dedicated exclusively to design, and I believe that design can change the world.
Canada has an industry of hundreds of thousands of designers employed in graphics, fashion, industry, architecture, interiors, hospitals, and more. The DX—Design Exchange— reflects this industry as a unique cultural presentation space.
Thank you, Madam Chair, and committee, for inviting me to speak today. With a mandate to demonstrate the value and importance of design to everyday life, DX was launched 25 years ago. The City of Toronto gifted the original Toronto Stock Exchange for 99 years rent-free, and the developers, Cadillac Fairview, provided a grant of $500,000 a year for 25 years to cover operational expenses. This grant sunsetted in 2015.
Seven years ago, Lord Cultural Resources, completed a strategic plan that I was recruited to implement. The Lord plan made two recommendations: to be a design museum offering programs with broad public appeal, and to launch a design festival. In the case of the former, I installed Stefan Sagmeister's Happy Show, and Christian Louboutin's 20-year retrospective borrowed from London's Design Museum. We also developed our own shows: This Is Not a Toy, a show on street art, guest-curated by the performer-singer Pharrell Williams; and Politics of Fashion | Fashion of Politics with Canadian icon Jeanne Beker.
These four shows attracted over 75,000 mostly first-time visitors and increased DX admission by 300%. We earned 800 million global media impressions, and for the first time DX saw a meaningful increase in revenue. For example, Louboutin brought in a record revenue of $250,000 in corporate sponsorship and about the same in provincial government grants. Yet, given the current funding landscape for museums, it remained difficult to cover our costs. To complicate things further, the more we used space for programming, the less it could be rented out for venue rental, which is our most significant revenue stream.
Around this time I had two conversations that led us to the next stage of our evolution. First, when I asked Pharrell why he curated the show pro bono, he said that people are often intimidated by contemporary art and stand in front of an art gallery afraid to walk in. He explained that street art was accessible and served as an introduction to cultural expression. The second conversation was with a city councillor who represents a high-priority neighbourhood. He asked me to think about the kids out there.
First, Pharrell was right. We received phone calls from young adults asking us what the dress code was because they simply had never been to a museum before. Second, the councillor's question made me think about relevance, diversity, and accessibility, so much so that this became a starting point for the next phase, DX Satellite.
DX Satellite was launched. In addition to our home at the Toronto Stock Exchange, we became nomadic with pop-up installations throughout the Greater Toronto Area. The 3DXL exhibition illustrated the impact of 3D printing on architecture, while Smarter. Faster. Tougher. was an exhibition on innovative sportswear design held during the Pan Am Games.
We evolved a robust series of educational programs, tours, and customized workshops for high-priority neighbourhoods. These programs continue to grow. We annually engage with approximately 90,000 visitors and participants and have approximately 200,000 friends and followers through social media. We did a project at Union Station with Luminato and our high-priority neighbourhood programming.
In 2015, further to the strategic plan, we developed the concept for a design festival and biennial, leading to our most ambitious and acclaimed project to date, EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation, and Technology. EDIT was a 10-day interactive and immersive festival that looked at how design innovation and technology can make the world a better place for all people. It was held in 2017 to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary. It wasn't until I learned about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 that EDIT's raison d'etre really became clear. I was excited about the prospect that our planet could achieve these goals, but moreover I saw them as design challenges. I met with the UN in New York and asked them to partner with us on EDIT.
We repurposed the deserted Unilever factory in Toronto, occupying 150,000 square feet with an immersive experience of curated exhibits by global thought-leaders like Bruce Mau and Carlo Ratti. Featuring 50 installations by Canada's leading architects and designers, it hosted 40 workshops and 125 speakers, including Ian Campeau, Marije Vogelzang, and David Suzuki. Topics included design solutions for rising sea levels, the indigenous housing crisis, food waste, and affordable housing. We provided a platform for the country's architects, designers, and innovators to create interactive experiences to demonstrate how they could ingenuously solve global challenges.
For only $15 a ticket, we created an immersive and accessible experience and aimed to eliminate barriers to entry. Some 35,000 visitors, including 6,000 school kids who were admitted for free, attended. Ninety per cent of surveyed visitors would return for the next edition.
As EDIT continues, we're excited about working more closely with the school boards to develop design tool kits that encourage students to think about and solve the sustainable development goals in their own communities.
From a $5 million project, we scaled it back to $3.9 million. About 50% of the funding was provided by the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto, with the other half raised through corporate sponsorship, ticket sales, and donations.
I was really interested to read Rene Rivard's claim that we've now entered a phase of “museum of ideas”, something I couldn't agree more with. While design can be about making beautiful things, it's also about developing solutions.
EDIT was, and continues to be, about adaptive reuse. As urbanist Jane Jacobs famously said, “New ideas require old buildings.” As the cost of real estate continues to rise in our urban centres and funding becomes increasingly challenging for museums, we continue to innovate cultural expression placemaking by repurposing space. EDIT taught us that we don't have to dummy down our content, but rather, we have to be accessible, authentic, diverse, and relevant.
Neither EDIT nor one of the DX programs mentioned above has received federal government support. Design Exchange, as a Canadian museum, has often been told that we're not eligible for Canadian Heritage programs. When we applied for support for EDIT, it was the same story. We continue to diversify our programs. We engage all sectors and talk about issues that touch us all. We're directed to other ministries like ISED or Global Affairs, who have rallied us back to Canadian Heritage.
We hear discussion about design becoming part of the definition of the creative industries, yet we await specific details. We spend valuable time strategizing about funding, about ways to engage corporate sponsors. It takes money to make money. I've often lamented the state of the small cultural institution in Canada, the vicious cycle of insufficient funding impacting programming and marketing, leading to small audiences and resulting in insufficient funding, and so on. I have often thought that we should band our resources together to create shared spaces and align with other institutions, cultural or otherwise.
We ask you to consider a few things: that the definition of museum experience not be exclusively defined by what goes on within a museum’s bricks and mortar; that funding activities remain flexible to account for the shifting realities of the sector; that funding programs be opened up and resourced to include design institutions and designers; that we have an inter-ministerial approach to culture and heritage that accounts for the cross-sector nature of projects and programming and leverages a variety of resources for broad impact.
This is an exciting time for the design industry and Canada's museum sector. We look forward to working with you and other stakeholders.
There's a reverb here. I'm going to turn my end down. Can you still hear me?
[Witness speaks in Haida]
Good people, háw'aa for inviting me to speak today.
My name is Jisgang. My English name is Nika Collison. I'm the executive director of the Haida Gwaii Museum, a position I've only recently taken on. Before this, I worked here for 18 years as a curator and senior negotiator for Haida repatriation initiatives, among other things. Until we can secure proper funding, I continue to carry this work along with my new role.
I've been invited to share experiences on the Haida Gwaii Museum, its history and current existence, and the challenges we face. In this, I'd like to begin by saying our museum might be one of the earliest calls to action in regard to reconciliation in the museum and greater world, in that its formation was a vision of both Haida citizens and our friends residing on Haida Gwaii. The museum opened in 1976 at Kay Llnagaay, an ancient Haida village from which I'm presenting right now, and of course we're on Haida Gwaii.
Since almost all of our treasures left the islands during the height of colonization, we didn't have much of a collection to begin with, but several families, both Haida and settler, donated their treasures so they can be cared for and shared by all. One of the earliest acts of repatriation in Canada also occurred through the formation of our museum when then curator Peter Macnair of the Royal British Columbia Museum showed support by returning some monumental poles taken from Haida Gwaii in the early 1900s.
The Haida Gwaii Museum has since grown to include a considerable collection of treasures obtained through donations, commissions, long-term loans, and repatriation and by purchases and really large donations made possible through Canada's Cultural Property Export and Import Act.
In 2008, our museum grew from 5,600 square feet to 17,000 square feet with the creation of the Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Llnagaay, a 50,000 square foot complex of which our museum is a partner, along with the Skidegate Band Council and Parks Canada. Conceptualized and driven by our community, the centre houses several cultural and educational spaces and organizations in addition to our museum. It took seven years and almost $30 million to create.
Throughout, every experience, word, object, and image has been developed with our people ensuring we say what we want to say and how we want to say it. Amongst it all is a grave house that was built to house ancestral remains unearthed during construction of the Haida Heritage Centre. It also serves as a holding place for repatriated ancestral remains awaiting reinterment.
In the 1990s, the repatriation of ancestral remains became a primary focus of our people and has been facilitated and supported by our museum, in partnership with the Haida Repatriation Committee and Council of the Haida Nation since the movement began. To date, more than 500 of our ancestors have been brought home and reburied, from museums, universities, and private individuals across North America and one from overseas. This work has taken over 20 years and has cost over $1 million in cash, sweat labour, and in-kind donations.
We are a category A museum, meaning we meet professional Canadian museum standards by way of facilities and the ability to care for and present our multiple historic collections and archives. We also present new works, as we are a living culture.
Our museum's principle research, collecting, and presentation focus is the recovery of art, knowledge, and documentation pertinent to Haida history located in institutions around the world. This is brought forward into our living culture today. Our mandate is also very focused on the preservation and continuation of the Haida language, an endangered linguistic isolate. We also collect and conduct research on the natural sciences of Haida Gwaii and its history of Canadian settlement.
We conduct all our work in consultation with the Haida and greater islands community, and we approach this work locally and abroad with the goal of mutual respect, co-operation, and trust. We are the main generator of public programs on-island with an annual arts and culture program featuring workshops, art exhibitions, educational programs, and a series of public programs also aimed at visitors to Haida Gwaii.
Other programming includes an array of ongoing community-driven research projects, educational experiences, and other collaborations with organizations both locally and on a global scale. We are also committed to building capacity in the fields of art and heritage by mentoring Haida and other islands in museum practices and arts administration.
These opportunities build important skills for employment and passion and provide unparalleled access to learning about historic and contemporary Haida language, art, and culture, Haida Gwaii itself, and our shared history with Canada. We also operate a gift shop that supports and promotes local artists. In observing the many facets of our operations, it is clear that the Haida Gwaii Museum is not an institution in and of itself; rather, we are part of the institution that makes up Haida society and Canadian society. Together with the Haida Heritage Centre, we provide space, support, and opportunity for artistic and cultural practices, ceremonies, research, education, capacity building, and so on.
We are driven by the community, as I said earlier, and are a part of and contribute to our Haida way of life, an islander way of life, both inside and outside of our house. We have been blazing paths towards reconciliation long before the term became popular.
I will segue into our challenges, and then we'll be touching on each subject in anticipation of providing you with further pertinent information in response to your questions.
Of course, the number one issue or challenge is funding. In order to run a professional small-to-medium sized museum of our stature, at the bare minimum we require professional staff to serve in administration, curation, repatriation, collections, archives, retail, and, ideally, education.
With an absolute basic operating budget, meaning no major exhibitions, publications, research projects, mentorship programs, education programs, etc., thus a very basic annual schedule of programming, our budget runs just over $400,000. Ideally, it would be around $750,000. Based on revenue from existing annual operating grants, admissions, and retail sales, in order to break even, we can only employ myself, a bookkeeper, and a gift shop manager. In this case, our payroll expenses make up about 25% of our operating costs. All other positions are grant dependent, and when we do find grant money for additional positions, all staff are still grossly underpaid.
I'd like to give you some personal examples. As executive director, visual arts curator, repatriation negotiator, facilitator, and marketer, I make $60,000 a year. When I was everything except the executive director, I made $32,000 a year. Our curator of collections and archeology, who is also our conservator and exhibitions preparator, makes $35,000 a year. The archives and gift shop each make $42,000 a year, and remember, many of these positions are grant dependent.
Human resource and capacity building is huge. We're absolutely overworked, underpaid, and underdeveloped. The indigenization, decolonization of museums and, by extension, Canadian society by way of repatriation, reparation, reconciliation, and recognition of indigenous scholarships, laws, and protocol.... Amazing work has been accomplished by working together. I can tell you many stories that demonstrate the miles and miles we have yet to cover. We really need to embrace the TRC calls to action and UNDRIP in this round.
The rural location is very much a challenge. There is an increased cost to living on an island, and because of that, we have fewer visits and less opportunity for revenue generation and grants. However you support art, culture, and reconciliation in general by way of this inquiry, I highly value your understanding of the essentiality that this brings to the sustaining of a healthy economy and society for all and support one of the most powerful on-the-ground roads to reconciliation.
Vitra is in Weil am Rhein. It's in that little...it's like a country between Austria, Italy, and Germany. It's in there. It's very obscure, hard to get to. It's really a destination, but they do some of the best work in the world. I just spoke to the director a couple of days ago, and he said it's just because they have some money from a benefactor. It's still challenging to balance budgets.
The Design Museum in London just moved to a huge building done by a world-famous architect, John Pawson. It was started by Terence Conran. It's very much supported by a benefactor.
What I see is that design is still something that people, when thinking about things, that design is the design of things versus design of systems, of thinking of solutions. To generate philanthropy around that is still difficult.
Corporate sponsorship is another story. That we can do, but the challenge around corporate sponsorship is that, as I mentioned in my presentation, it costs money to make money, so you have to create programs, you have to create opportunities in order for the sponsor to feel that they're getting their ROI out of being involved.
In terms of the funding model, for example our overall annual revenue is $3.2 million; 56% of that revenue we generate through our event rental business. The rest falls: donations and sponsorship is 25%; tickets, registration is 9%; membership is 9%; and government funding is 9%.
In the study that Gail Lord did for us, it clearly said that museums, generally, about 20% to 40% of their support is government funding. We're far below that.
I'm sure you've heard this over and over again. It's the operational expenses that are really killing us and killing everyone, so that's where we really need help. I also said in my presentation that I think there's opportunity to share resources, to share venues, to think outside the box and think outside of bricks and mortar. Maybe we don't all need bricks and mortar, but then what's the funding model for that? There isn't a funding model stream that would support that initiative, either.