Why don't we get started?
I see we are all back.
Hello everyone and welcome.
We are having meeting number 98 of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. We are continuing our study on the state of Canadian museums.
Two witnesses are joining us by video conference:
the Ontario Museum Association, Marie Lalonde, Executive Director. Hello.
We also have Ms. Carol Pauzé, from the Musée de l'ingéniosité J. Armand Bombardier.
Our third witness, Mr. Pierre Wilson, from the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec, is here with us.
Ms. Lalonde and Ms. Pauzé, we do not have your notes. Please speak slowly so the interpreters can understand what you are saying.
We will begin with our witnesses in Valcourt and Toronto.
Ladies, you have the floor for 10 minutes.
We will begin with Ms. Marie Lalonde.
Good morning, everyone. I apologize for my hoarseness. There's a bit of a remaining flu bug, but let's continue with enthusiasm.
Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee, for this opportunity to speak with you today about the state of Canadian museums.
The Ontario Museum Association, known as the OMA, is the leading professional organization advancing a strong, collaborative, and inclusive museum sector that is vital to community life and the well-being of Ontarians. The OMA strengthens capacity among institutions and individuals active in Ontario's museums sector. It facilitates excellence and best practices, and improves the communication and collaboration of its membership. The OMA advocates for the important role of Ontario's museums to society, working with all stakeholders, related sectors and industries, and other professional organizations. We also offer the only part-time certificate in museum studies in Ontario.
Ontario is the province with the highest number of museums. There are more than 700 museums, art galleries, and heritage sites in Ontario, and close to 400 of these are mandated as museums. They employ almost 10,000 professionals and engage 33,000 volunteers. Annually, these volunteers in museums and art galleries work more than 1.5 million hours. There are 17.5 million annual visits to Ontario museums each year; 48% of Ontarians visit a museum or an art gallery annually; 81% of these visitors to museums in Ontario are from within the province, and 55% are from the local area; and 88% of museums are also free to the public at select times. There are close to 40,000 school visits per year, with many of these school visits being from more than one class, and of course, in turn, many classes of more than 15 students or schoolchildren. There are also 74 million online visits to Ontario museums.
What these numbers clearly demonstrate is that Canadians are interested in, appreciate, and need good museums. Canadians have indicated—and this was stated by other presenters in reference to many public surveys—that Canadians trust museums. They want public investments to support them.
Museums are also an integral part of Ontario's vibrant cultural sector. They directly contribute $25.3 billion toward the province's GDP, and nearly 4% is from museums specifically. According to the Canadian Heritage survey of 2015—soon to be updated, I understand—the total revenue for heritage institutions in Canada reached a record $2.12 billion in 2013. That was a 3% increase from 2011, and we understand that the trend continues. The three provinces that accounted for most of the sector's revenues were led by Ontario, at 41%; then Quebec, at 26.4%; and Alberta, at 10%.
What's very important and what I'd like to bring to the committee's attention today is that, over the last two years, the OMA, working with Ontario museums, conducted an exhaustive sectoral study to identify a vision or a road map for our museums. It was directed by a task force of Ontario museum leaders, individuals from various types of museums, various regions, with expertise on the issues that concern Ontario museums. This process was inspired by leading international museum initiatives in jurisdictions such as the U.K. and Wales. It was directly informed by Ontario's sector-wide consultations and included key stakeholder interviews with government, provincial heritage organizations, associations of libraries, arts councils, the Ontario Heritage Trust, tourism service organizations, and many other cultural sector partners, along with hundreds of responses from Ontario museum surveys, all supported by collected data on our museums.
All of these efforts will ensure there is a very strong foundation for museums to move forward with this vision. The result is two key documents that the OMA is proud to share with the committee for your consideration. The first is “Ontario's Museums 2025: Strategic Vision & Action Plan”, and if you will forgive me, I will hold it up for you. We were pleased to present it to Chair Madam Dabrusin, as well as Mr. Van Loan, during their 2016 visits, I believe. We also have the “Ontario's Museums 2014 Profile”, which was a data report with the latest information on museums, developed by Hill Strategies.
The Ontario's museums 2025 document is the sector plan to ensure that museums continue to play a fundamental role in creating dynamic communities, to contribute to a prosperous knowledge economy, and to build public value, thereby becoming increasingly relevant to all Ontarians and Canadians.
The task force considered a phased approach to implementing this vision and action plan, recognizing the challenges of the current workloads for museum workers and limited resources. Considering the feedback received, we recommended in the action plan that the following outcomes and actions be targeted over the next 10 years: the creation of vibrant and vital museums, an effective and collaborative workforce, relevant and meaningful collections, and a strong and successful sector.
For each of these areas, we identified a vision 2025 for what museums should look like in that year, and then outcomes and steps for how we can get there. Ontario's museums 2025 calls for innovative collaboration and new approaches to museum work. The action plan also has simple icons that identify in detail who has agency and needs to be involved for the success of each of the actions in the plan, whether the government, the museums themselves, the OMA as an association, or the private sector.
For the creation of vibrant and vital museums, there are recommended actions. These include developing tools, strategies, and best practices for museums to consult with their communities and facilitate participation in museum planning and work and to use digital technology and social media to create connected networks to enable public access to collections, to programs and resources, and to staff.
To create an effective and collaborative workforce, we look to develop tools, strategies, and best practices to increase the capacity and effectiveness of museums. To address accessibility, diversity, and inclusion, we need to create research capacity and create meaningful employment and skill acquisition opportunities.
To have relevant and meaningful collections, we want to develop a coordinated approach to collecting and to ensure that the collections represent the diversity of our country; to develop models for shared spaces, shared service delivery, and shared resources; and to work with governments to foster awareness of shared values for support of museums to develop a new funding strategy, public awareness, and marketing campaign.
To summarize, we echo most of the other presenters in that we need a new museum policy, new funding programs that reflect the current context for museum operations, and adequate and increased multiple-year operating funding. In particular, the OMA would like to recommend the recognition and active engagement of provincial, territorial, and national museum associations in policy and funding program development, with museum associations being key partners in building and strengthening Canada's museum sector. We submit both key museum sector documents to you with a request that they be central to any further discussions and reports about the future of Canadian museums.
I thank you very much for this opportunity to address the committee today.
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you about small regional museums.
I do not represent all museums, but rather the Musée de l'ingéniosité J. Armand Bombardier, which is located in Valcourt, in the Eastern Townships.
Opened in 1971, the museum was completely revamped in 2016. What is unique about this museum is that it is managed by the J. Armand Bombardier foundation, so it does not receive grants from any government or municipal organization whatsoever.
I will describe the state of affairs on the basis of discussions I have had with colleagues from other museums and a study conducted by the Société des musées québécois.
Funding is of course a key issue. It is no secret that museums in Quebec are struggling because the funding they need for their operations and for the renewal of their permanent and temporary exhibitions has been cut and is not indexed. This threatens the very existence of certain museums and interpretation centres, which are finding it increasingly difficult to survive in a context that is already difficult.
Finding more independent revenues is a challenge. Museums compete with the culture sector in general and with other recreational activities. In the regions, distance is an obstacle and often means that museums are busy on a seasonal basis only. In most cases, local traffic is insufficient to keep the museums afloat. So we rely a great deal on seasonal traffic. That in turn depends on the weather, the cost of gas, and various other factors.
Whether they are tourists or people on an outing in the region, seasonal visitors are interested, but they are very demanding. They have high expectations because they visit many places and see a lot of things. They are looking for an experience that is out of the ordinary, which means that museums have to be innovative. That is what we all want to do, but that requires both human and financial resources.
Museums could be called upon to seek out private funding sources. Once again, the pool of donors is even more limited in the regions than in larger centres. Further, cultural philanthropy is not as highly developed in Quebec as it is in the rest of Canada. So that is not a promising avenue for organizations looking for funding.
Sponsorships are another possibility, but there are a lot of demands on big companies and some pull out completely. Moreover, there are not many of them in the regions. Seeking out sponsorships requires skills that the managers of small regional institutions—who are expected to do everything—do not have in many cases. Those people are museologists, but not necessarily experts in seeking out partnerships, although they have to do that as well.
Often seen as a cash cow, schools cannot be relied upon for revenues and are not inclined to visit the institutions. Visiting museums is not mandatory; it is a choice among many others available. It takes a lot of work to draw in schools. Further, the cost of transportation in the regions is high—perhaps even higher than the price of admission—which is another obstacle. Schools would rather have cultural organizations or institutions visit them on their premises. Not all institutions have enough staff and resources to move around from place to place.
Ignorance of the role and impact of museums is another issue. Museums are at the centre of a region's cultural life; they represent authenticity, truth, and authority. Yet the commitment from municipalities is low or uneven. Some institutions receive support, while others get none at all. Museums are nonetheless major attractions in most cases, traffic builders, but they are not recognized as such.
The ministry of tourism and tourism associations tend to overlook what museums have to offer. The scenery and gastronomy are promoted, but heritage not as much. Surveys show, however, that museums are popular among tourists and people who do outings.
Another issue pertains to human resources. It is hard to recruit staff and salaries are low. As a result, the people who are hired are often underpaid in the regions. Many small institutions operate on the basis of projects or programs, so jobs are often short-term, not long-term. I have seen ads for project officer jobs that require a master's in museology, but pay minimum wage. That is not very attractive and there are not many candidates for those positions.
As I said, jobs are temporary and unstable, which creates employment instability. The working conditions are often unfair and there are no benefits. There is no pay equity since wages are lower than at municipal or national museums. It varies. Some institutions offer good conditions, reasonable conditions, but others cannot afford to do that. There is not much new blood and it is hard to recruit people. Positions are on a contract basis and salaries are not always competitive.
Once again, working in a region involves moving and development costs. Young people need a car, which they would not need in a city. As we all know, qualified young people are leaving the regions for larger centres. On the other hand, small institutions need staff who are versatile since their resources are limited. Qualified staff is available in some cases, but not always. We need people who are willing to do a bit of everything, but we cannot afford a large pool of staff who are asked to do everything.
We also need training in the regions to develop the digital skills that are needed to make the shift to digital, in museology, in museography, and in management. Sending people for training in larger centres involves time and money. The fragmentation of the museum network and the various measures taken by the Quebec government, among other things, are raising concerns about a loss of diversity. Some sites and interpretation centres no longer receive funding from Quebec's ministry of culture and communications, and they are no longer eligible for certain programs, which threatens certain small and very small institutions.
I would also note that science museums have been sidelined. They no longer receive funding from the ministry of culture and communications. They can get funding from certain federal government programs, but no longer from the Quebec government. Once again, this threatens certain institutions.
In conclusion, I would say that resources are obviously much scarcer in the regions than in larger centres. While digital technologies are promising in terms of promotion, openness, and accessibility, they require funding, expertise, and more resources. Museums need to catch up on digital technologies, but it is hard for them to do that right now.
We have to continue to preserve and conserve our collections, but we have no reserves at the regional level. The big cities have large reserves, but we have none in the regions.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My name is Pierre Wilson and I am the Director of the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec. I am appearing as an individual and do not represent any group whatsoever.
Since the committee began its study on the state of museums, and especially small museums, I imagine you now have a good idea of what museums represent in figures—and Ms. Lalonde gave you a few as well. At the same time, you must remember that museums are essential to the preservation and construction of our history, and to building a sense of belonging. Our museum is a good example of this.
The MMAQ is in Saint-Laurent, where 55% of the population was born outside Canada. If you include children, it is 90% of the population. We encourage local populations and groups that reflect the full diversity of our community to exhibit their artifacts at the MMAQ in order to foster a sense of belonging. That is not what I am here to talk to you about today though.
Some of you may have read the excellent report of some 200 pages commissioned by the Quebec government, which of course is in French. Mr. Corbo chaired the task force on the future of the museum network in Quebec that produced this report. It provides an excellent summary of the especially difficult financial predicament of museums in Quebec and suggests some solutions. It was presented in October 2013 and, like all good reports, was shelved.
I will now talk about operating grants for museums. In Quebec, some museums are well-known and supported, while others are well-known but not supported. Museum institutions include actual museums, which have collections. The primary mission of a museum is to have a collection and to preserve it, as I was telling someone earlier. A museum's essential mission is to last for a long time, to be permanent. It is the only human undertaking whose objective is to last. When people give us artifacts, they want us to preserve them for posterity. Posterity is a long time though.
The first figure shows the grants our museum received in 1995 from Quebec's ministry of culture and communications, the borough of Saint-Laurent, and the Conseil des arts de Montréal, or CAM. These three grants were $159,000, $85,000, and $28,000 respectively. The grant that has increased the most is the one from the ministry of culture and communications, which was $204,000 in 2017. The $85,000 grant from the borough has not changed since 1995, while the CAM grant has increased slightly to $30,000.
We currently have a shortfall of $80,000 out of a budget of $800,000. That is 10%, which is a huge amount. So we have to change up the mix of independent revenues and operating grants. I will also talk later about grants for projects.
The next numbers come from the second figure.
The independent revenues of museums in Quebec accounted for 50.9% of all their revenues in 2007 and 53% in 2011. Independent revenues are on the rise, whereas federal, provincial, and municipal funding is gradually decreasing. This decrease is of course due to the fact that our grants are not indexed.
The same is true for our museum: the proportion of independent revenues rose from 21% in 2010 to 30% in 2017. During that same time period, grants from Quebec dropped from 48% to 43%. Federal grants, on the other hand, increased from 3% to 4%—thank you very much. Municipal grants fell from 28% to 14%. Federal grants are not very high, as they are provided under various small programs to assist museums.
I will tell you very honestly how much our museum staff earn. Here are the hourly wages, along with information about staff seniority and education.
I am the museum's director. I have a bachelor's degree and have been in this position for 15 years. I earn $26 per hour. My administrative assistant, who has a college diploma and has been with us for 21 years, earns $24.40 per hour. The head of corporate services, who has a master's degree and seven years of seniority, earns $20.30 per hour. You will agree that this is not a lot of money. The communications officer earns $17 per hour, the acting curator earns $17 per hour, the exhibitions coordinator earns $18.35 per hour, and the actual curator earns $21.98 per hour. All of these people have a master's degree. Seeing what they earn, it is clear that they are passionate about their jobs.
We are able to keep them for quite a long time. Some have been with us for 15 years, others for seven years. Our staff stay on with us because they have a lot of fun. For most of my employees, having fun is part of their compensation. At least that is the argument I use to get them to stay.
Further, we have no pension fund. I will be retiring in June and I have only been able to contribute to an RRSP. That is all I have. I have nothing else, apart from CPP—once again, thank you very much. That is all I will get for all the years I have devoted to the culture sector. After working at a museum for 15 years, I have no pension plan. This is true not only for our museum, which is small or medium sized, but for all other museums as well. I know some that are run by volunteers, who obviously are not paid at all.
The change in the percentage of operating grants, which support our mission, versus project grants is one of the problems that I think is very important and that you should address.
Operating grants support our mission, and we certainly have to produce reports in that regard. It is up to us, however, to stay on top of our mission and to manage that money.
In terms of project funding, on the other hand, whether those grants are awarded or not is often a political decision, as in the case of the digital shift. Digital projects at museums are a direct result of political will. The officials in charge of the budgets are told to spend millions of dollars and create grant programs so museums can fund digital projects.
At the same time, we are having some operating problems. We have to go that route, and we understand that is important and that politicians also want to have a hand in governing and directing. At the operational level, though, our mission is suffering. In 2010, the government funded 71% of our operating budgets, but just 54% in 2017. In 2010, the government provided 29% of project funding, as compared to 46% in 2017. So there has been a huge shift toward greater control by governments. The more program funding that is provided, the greater the political control. The more you subsidize the mission, on the other hand, the better able we are to judge what we have to do. We are the presenters, and it is our role to make decisions about our exhibitions and collections, which we are supposed to be able to do.
In short, much of our work has shifted away from our mission as a museum to focus instead on finding new sources of funding, which means there is a great risk of service cuts.
At the museum, we have always managed to find significant savings and to secure other sources of independent revenues. We manage a visual arts exhibition room, mostly on art crafts, which is not part of our mission, because we are able to. This allows us to generate extra revenues to absorb rising costs owing to inflation, just as a business would.
Consider for example a budget of $800,000 with a 2% rate of inflation. Costs will rise by $16,000 next year. That increase will have an impact on what we pay our staff, and we still have to cover all the other costs, such as renting the chapel. No one helps me find savings on those other costs. In this example, inflation would be $16,000 the first year, $32,000 the second year, and $48,000 the third year. That is a lot of money!
All we want—and have wanted for so long that we wonder if anyone is listening—is for our grants to be indexed back to the 1995 amounts. We also recommend legislation that requires our operating grants to be indexed annually in order to keep up with inflation.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to thank each of the witnesses for being with us today. You have provided excellent information and I have taken so many notes that I could ask you questions for an hour, but there are a number of MPs around the table who will want their turn.
My questions are for Ms. Pauzé, from the Musée de l'ingéniosité J. Armand Bombardier, which is in my riding.
Ms. Pauzé, thank you for accepting our invitation today, especially since our study focuses on local, regional museums. No museum is more local than the Musée de l'ingéniosité J. Armand Bombardier. As you said, the museum was refurbished in 2016, and very nicely, in my opinion. I have also visited it a few times. You have very successfully combined technology, engineering and innovation. I would give the Musée de l'ingéniosité J. Armand Bombardier five stars and I encourage all my colleagues around the table to stop by if they are in the Eastern Townships. It is an outstanding museum and a well-guarded secret, but we have to spread the word as much as possible in our province and right across Canada.
You talked a lot about the challenges and problems you face, and I think they are highly indicative of the plight of all local museums. Canadian Heritage has various programs, however. I have a few questions for you and then I will let you answer.
Have you ever applied for any Canadian Heritage programs? Have those programs met your needs? And above all, what would you suggest to us? We want to know whether the programs are helpful to local museums. Is there anything you would change? What kind of programs would you like us to implement?
Those are good questions, Mr. Breton, and thank you for the free advertising.
The museum recently received funding through the museums assistance program for the circulation of a temporary exhibit we will soon be launching.
It was the first time the museum had received any such funding. I have been on the job for two years, but I don't think the museum had submitted many funding applications in the years prior. Since the museum is practically a private institution, being fully funded by the foundation, it can be hard to obtain funding assistance. Nevertheless, yes, it is possible through the museums assistance program.
As for whether the funding is tailored to museums' needs, it certainly was in our case. We are able to circulate an exhibition that was put together using core funding. We do not, however, have any money in the budget for cases to better protect the exhibition as it makes its way across the country. What the program primarily does is help other institutions with the cost of hosting the exhibition. Some museums in Canada will be able to host an exhibition at a rental cost of $8,000, whereas, on the commercial market, the cost would be at least $35,000. So, yes, the funding is useful and should continue to be made available.
We are also eligible for exhibit funding through the Virtual Museum of Canada. We submitted an application and are waiting to hear back. I can't say whether the funding will meet our needs, but it would be helpful if we get it, of course.
What could be changed? There's no doubt that submitting a funding application is very demanding. We realize it's necessary to show we meet certain standards, we have the project well in hand, and we know all the data, but submitting a funding application is a lot of work and so is reporting. If there was a way to simplify the process, it would really go a long way.
What's more, sometimes the rules are not quite clear, in terms of what we can and can't ask for. There is room for improvement in that regard, as well. I don't know what the overall budget is for the museums assistance program, but obviously many are called and few are chosen. I remember that, when we received our grant, we were told that numerous applications had been received from all over the country and that the funding had to be distributed equally among the provinces. Therefore, few projects are chosen in each province, in light of the overall budget. Something else that could be improved is the size of the budget envelope. I'd like to acknowledge my colleague Pierre Wilson, who said that the amounts allocated to all the programs haven't been indexed for many years, so there's clearly a lot that needs to be done from that standpoint.
Thank you for bringing that up. It is indeed an important tool.
As Madame Pauzé mentioned, the American experience related to philanthropy and donating is tremendously different to what we have in Canada. We have generous donors. We don't have the same volume. We don't have the same traditions.
However, the tools that have proven very successful in leveraging individual donors, as well as encouraging additional corporate and other donations and more philanthropy, are precisely the types of endowments you've mentioned. That was in programs available for the performing arts sector and not available for heritage and museums.
This brings forward the idea, or perhaps the recommendation, that when particular opportunities are considered for heritage policies, the approach should be all encompassing, so that all players within culture be given the same opportunities, if you wish.
I understand that's something that's been brought forward by our colleagues at the Canadian Museums Association, as well as in a smaller organization such as the Association of Nova Scotia Museums. Those are very important tools that can benefit all of us.
If I may add for the committee's benefit, the situation that was brought forward by Madam Pauzé with the museum she speaks for today, and Monsieur Wilson, clearly are examples of a situation that is nationwide. At the association, of the 400 or so Ontario museums, 200 of those member museums operate with an annual budget of less than $200,000.
As far as stretching dollars and increasing earned revenue are concerned, museums are doing their share. The operating funding is what helps museums be the best museums offering the best experience for all who wish to have it.
That's an excellent question. I could add that Quebec does have a fund-matching program, depending on the size of the budget. It's called the Mécénat Placements Culture program. Small museums like us can access funding through the program, but the problem is that we have to set up our own foundations and find funding.
To use the mirror analogy, I would suggest that the federal and provincial governments create a special fund where the government would match donor contributions. Such a fund could help small institutions with their operating costs.
In Carol's case, the J. Armand Bombardier Foundation is already funding the museum, but it might be worthwhile for the foundation to invest a bit more and have the contribution matched. Conversely, in my case, when I go out looking for funding—and heaven knows I do—I have a hard time. It really eats up a lot of my time. If the government were to help us, however…. Currently, we have $650,000 in our endowment fund.
The residents of the Saint-Laurent borough want to give culture a boost, and I told them that it wouldn't be possible without investing in this project. I recommended that they put money in a foundation and ask members of the local business community to contribute as well, adopting a matching system. The idea is to create a fund, use only the interest, and invest it in cultural initiatives. The capital should remain untouched.
It's a great idea, and it's something you can put in place. Putting all of that burden on our shoulders makes our jobs that much harder. It's doable, but it's a lot of work. Many small museums are out there, however. I was born in Rosemont, in Montreal, and I don't have any contacts in the Westmount community. Montreal's arts patrons go to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts well before they come to Quebec's Masters and Artisans Museum. Since they aren't familiar with me or the museum, they don't visit it.
You have a mandate. Earlier you mentioned the fact that a museum's first mission is to preserve its collections, and you are right. Day in and day out, however, a museum's mandate is to make the public aware of why it exists. Clearly, there are target audiences, and that's why I think what you're doing is absolutely crucial from a cultural mediation standpoint. People who are worried about Quebec's cultural heritage and its survival need to expose new immigrants to that heritage. That is the starting point, right at the centre of everything. In addition to tipping my hat to you, I want to say how much I appreciate your rich and meaningful contribution here today.
Like Ms. Lalonde, you mentioned the Ontario's Museums 2025 report. You joked that, like all good reports, it was shelved. You're right that it's pitiful for subsequent governments to simply cast aside good reports. We've had that same experience here with other reports I won't name.
I flipped through the report when you were speaking. Recommendation number 22 has to do with recognition for regional resource museums. I'm not asking you to know all the resources and recommendations, but the purpose of this study is to support local museums.
The motion adopted by the committee reads as follows: “That the Committee undertake a study to review the state of Canadian museums, with a focus on local and community museums (as opposed to the major national or provincial museums)….” I'd like to know your take on that.
First, though, I have another question.
Given the fact that studies conducted by governments, commissions, and committees like this one are often set aside, should they not, at the very least, be shared between different levels of government?
My sense is that there's a lot of talk. There are recommendations that could be implemented. I'd like to hear your thoughts on that.
I'd like to hear what Ms. Lalonde has to say, but Mr. Wilson's comments would certainly be pertinent as well.
Ms. Lalonde, would you care to comment?
I would like funding programs that help with operating costs. We receive funding from Quebec's ministry of culture and communications, the Montreal arts council, and the borough, but we don't have access to federal funding that would help with operations. I believe the Canada Council for the Arts provides operating funding. However, the last time I tried to get some information, I was told that knowing where we rank would be helpful, but to forget about it because it was already spoken for. In order to receive operating funding on a recurring basis, you have to be accredited and recognized. Once you are recognized, you receive the funding for a number of years. It's for operating purposes, so it has to be recurring. If you could provide greater access to operating funding so that other museums could apply, it would be a welcome measure.
Quebec has 120 recognized museums that receive support and 190 recognized museums. During the last evaluation, the 190 recognized museums were asked to submit applications, but the overall budget wasn't increased. That means that the 190 museums had to share the same overall amount with the other 120 museums. The decision to give funding to a few more organizations caused museums to make cuts. It was serious. Some museums saw their operating funding drop by 50%—which is huge—just so six new museums could receive some funding without having to increase the overall budget. Conversely, we are seeing increases in program budgets.
As I said, it's nice to have programs, which are shaped by your political agenda. We aren't against digital initiatives. They are amazing, of course, but we need to be supported in an effective way so that we can carry on our mission.
Thank you, Madam Chair and committee members.
Greetings from Vancouver.
My name is Hank Bull, and I am a self-employed artist. I have been involved in contemporary art since the 1970s, especially through the movement of artist-run centres across the country. I have a good deal of experience with major museums in Canada and around the world. For the past four years, I have been on the Vancouver Art Gallery's board of directors.
I have two pieces of good news to share with you today. First, we are ready to build a new museum in Vancouver. Second, more broadly speaking, Canada's museums are at the dawn of a new era with respect to federal government support.
Now I'll say a few words about the Vancouver Art Gallery.
We serve all of Canada with travelling exhibitions, public programs, and publications, which have won international recognition.
We were founded in 1931. It's interesting to note that in 1931 there were five museums in Canada: the National Gallery, le Musée du Québec, le Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, the Art Gallery of Toronto, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. We might not be one of Canada's official national cultural institutions, but we are surely the next best thing.
Over the past 10 years the Vancouver Art Gallery has experienced extraordinary growth. Its membership has tripled to over 32,000 voting members now. Its annual operating budget has grown from $7 million to now $19 million a year. Its permanent collection has grown by 60% to now over 12,000 works of art.
It has a particularly robust social media footprint, and we're very proud of that. Just yesterday we broke 50,000 Instagram followers. As of this morning, we're at 50,100 followers. That's more than all the other arts groups in British Columbia put together. It's more than any other museum in Canada except the Art Gallery of Ontario, which is in a city five times the size of Vancouver.
Our attendance has gone through the roof in the same period, from 180,000 people a year to, last year, 525,000 people who came through the doors. We are literally bursting at the seams.
The current facility, which is in a former courthouse, is long past its due date. Apart from being overcrowded, it's cramped, it lacks a lecture theatre, it has no education facilities, and it fails to meet even the most basic seismic safety requirements. There are a lot of national treasures in that basement. To give you an example of how bad it is, the larger trucks cannot get into the loading bay, and it is known that large paintings have been seen being walked up the streets of Vancouver in order to get them into the building. It's entirely inadequate. The situation has become urgent.
Now here's the good news. As many of you know, we are planning to build a new gallery. The City of Vancouver has set aside the land, a beautiful block of land in downtown Vancouver. The provincial government has already committed $50 million. It's in the bank. The board has raised over $40 million in private money so far. The architects have been engaged. The design phase is complete. We are shovel-ready. We're ready to go now. We just need the government's participation and to launch our public campaign, which we intend to do very shortly.
It's an ambitious project. It's like building a bridge across a river. It's a massive investment, but it also generates massive short-term and long-term impacts. According to an independent study, it will create 2,973 full-time equivalent jobs in the construction phase. That's more jobs than the Site C dam. It will generate tax revenues of $20 million a year and will add $28 million a year to GDP. Our goal is to raise $300 million to build the building, plus $50 million for an endowment. The federal government of course is a key player, and we're very happy to say that we've heard encouraging noises from the Minister of Canadian Heritage, from the Department of Infrastructure, and from the Prime Minister's Office. We've made a couple of trips to Ottawa already. We're encouraged by the federal response. We're also right now in very close negotiations with the Province of British Columbia, and we are hopeful that we're going to hear word of their recommitment soon to this project.
It's a big gallery. It's a beautiful gallery. The architects, Herzog & de Meuron, are fantastic. They designed the Tate Modern in London. They designed the famous Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing. This will be a very high functioning, beautiful building. It will be really transformative for the local economy and a big historical step forward for Canada when you think back to those five museums.
We ask you, committee members, please, to support this, to talk to your ministers, to join us as we go forward, and we look forward to welcoming you to the opening of this spectacular new facility. That's my first point.
The second point is that it's no secret that the museums of Canada are poorly served by the federal government. The Vancouver Art Gallery, for example, receives no annual funding from the Government of Canada. The Department of Canadian Heritage does give annual grants to film festivals and to music festivals for performing arts, but it does not give any annual grants to museums. This needs to be corrected.
There's the Canada Council. You'll say, “What about the Canada Council?” For its part, the Canada Council gives the Vancouver Art Gallery an annual grant of $300,000. This has not changed for over 10 years, despite its phenomenal growth. By comparison, the Vancouver Symphony, the VSO, receives an annual grant of $1.9 million. That's over six times more for an organization with a considerably smaller budget and a considerably smaller audience.
Similar examples can be found across the country. The Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal receives a grant of $450,000 whereas the Montreal Symphony gets a grant of over $2 million.
Here's the good news. We're not saying that the symphonies should receive less money. The symphonies are magnificent. They deserve every single penny. Now that the Canada Council has been endowed with new monies, there is a great opportunity for this imbalance to be corrected. There's a new competition this fall, and I for one am very optimistic that the Canada Council, in its extraordinary wisdom, will act on this issue. The Canada Council is to be lauded. I'm not here to criticize the council. The council is one of the great organizations in the world of funding.
More germane to this particular committee is Heritage. There should be annual grants. We have access to project monies, but they're very hard to access. It's very complex. It takes years, the decisions are slow, and it's not easy. There really needs to be better support on an ongoing basis from Heritage Canada for the museums of this country.
That concludes my presentation. Thank you very much. I'm happy to take questions.
Good morning. Thank you for having us today.
For those of you who are familiar with us, it may come as a surprise to hear Pointe-à-Callière described as a local museum. However, we are firmly entrenched in our community, with all the archaeological and historic sites we showcase. For those of you who may not be familiar with us, I'll give a brief overview of our institution.
Pointe-à-Callière, the Montreal archaeology and history complex, is a young museum, established just 25 years ago, in 1992, to showcase the archaeological heritage and birthplace of Montreal. It is located on Montreal's heritage site, Old Montreal. The museum is nationally and internationally renowned for mounting large-scale exhibitions dedicated to history, as well as regional, national, and international heritage, using new technology, and showcasing historic sites and collections.
When it was established, the museum consisted of three structures and sites, but today is made up of seven pavilions and historic sites. Last year, we opened a new pavilion, Fort Ville-Marie, the first French establishment in Montreal, which is also a Canadian national historic site. We also showcase the first collector sewer in Montreal, which visitors can explore. Not only is it a monumental example of urban infrastructure in the 19th century, but it is also the first sewer collector in Canada. Pointe-à-Callière includes the site where Montreal was founded in 1642. It features the vestiges of the beginning of the French occupation and the presence of the first settlers in the Montreal area. It is the site where the great peace treaty of Montreal was signed in 1701, one of the first continental events bringing together important figures in history including Huron-Wendat Chief Kondiaronk and Governor Louis-Hector de Callière. It is also the location of Montreal's first custom house, a historical building built in 1836.
Pointe-à-Callière is continuing to expand. An upcoming phase will focus on the addition of two pavilions and historic sites. The first is the archaeological site of the Sainte-Anne market, which, from 1844 to 1849, served as the Parliament of United Canada. The second is Montreal's old general hospital, a Canadian national historic site, the Frères Charon and Grey Nuns' hospital, dating back to 1693.
The museum showcases important events and sites in Canada's history, including archaeological sites, collections and buildings of symbolic value, making them accessible to the public. We preserve sites that are important to the public and tell the story of Canada's history and democratic beginnings.
Now I will give you an overview of our situation, since that is one of the reasons you invited us here today. My comments will pertain to Pointe-à-Callière, a history museum and historic site.
Like the previous witnesses, we are of the view that the lack of resources hinders development. As everyone knows, the obligation to be innovative and at the forefront of museography looms large in the current ecosystem. What's more, we have to deliver a diverse range of experiences that visitors increasingly expect. This means that the museum, in and of itself, must be an experience. We must stay abreast of communication trends and advances in knowledge, while building partnerships as part of our mission. Museums accomplish a lot with very little. Museums have a sweeping mission to promote culture, education, awareness, and heritage preservation, not to mention welcome the public, mount exhibits, and undertake cultural initiatives. Consequently, museums serve as spaces for dialogue and public interaction. Meeting all of these challenges can be very difficult without stable operating funding.
Every museum institution must seek out diverse sources of operating funding, both public and private. That is our approach at Pointe-à-Callière, but programs are few and focus mainly on individual projects, an issue that was raised earlier. As we see it, operating funding is the building block necessary to fully carry out our mission. Pointe-à-Callière is one of the major museums that receives funding solely from the City of Montreal, its own city. Sixty per cent of the museum's funding comes from the city, with ticket sales, donations, and sponsorships accounting for the rest.
More and more people are visiting museums. We heard a prime example earlier, and it is also the case for us. In 1992, the museum expected to welcome about 150,000 visitors, which was very good at the time. Today, however, Pointe-à-Callière has 463,000 visitors, a substantial increase. Our welcome centre is much too cramped for this growing number of visitors.
When it comes to public funding, heritage is often overlooked. It doesn't fall in the art museum and artistic organization category, which is covered by the Canada Council for the Arts. By building partnerships with provinces, municipalities, and the private sector, the Government of Canada could play a larger role in supporting museums whose mission is to preserve and showcase heritage so it is accessible to Canadians.
History museums are a category of institutions that would naturally fall under the jurisdiction of Heritage Canada. The Canada Council for the Arts is one of 12 crown corporations that report to Heritage Canada, and yet history museums are not able to access its programs. No counterpart exists to support heritage.
I will conclude our presentation this morning with some recommendations. We have four.
First, we recommend that the government establish a fund where it would match private contributions, as is the case with the Canada Council for the Arts. Similarly, perhaps a Canada council for heritage could administer recurring funding for museums. This is an opportunity the federal government could leverage without interfering in provincial jurisdiction.
Second, we recommend that the government create a program, administered by a federal agency like Parks Canada, to support regional museums that manage collections or buildings of national historic significance. The program would provide access to recurring operating funding. The government could play a role in preserving and promoting national collections, for example that of the Parliament of United Canada located in Montreal. We have managed to remove 350,000 artifacts from the site after two summers of archaeological digs. Special funding to facilitate the restoration, digitization, accessibility, promotion, and maintenance of heritage assets is extremely important.
Third, we recommend that the government establish a strategy to preserve religious heritage by pooling capacity. That would involve staff optimization and the pooling of resources. It would also require the support of museums, which have expertise in managing movable, immovable, and documentary heritage assets to ensure they remain accessible to current and future generations.
As a side note, I would point out that Canada's religious heritage makes up an invaluable part of its history. This heritage represents religious institutions that settled in Canada, and thus, America. It is all the more important that we step in to look after these heritage assets given that, thus far, they have been handled with care by their communities and remain in excellent condition.
Fourth and finally, we recommend that the government provide support for international outreach. The federal government could actively contribute to the vitality of Canadian museums by financially supporting their international development efforts, thus raising Canada's visibility on the world stage. Currently, the museums assistance program provides similar support through its travelling exhibitions component, but only in Canada. The government should consider expanding the program to include international travelling exhibitions. We are endeavouring to diversify our funding sources, and since we produce our own exhibits, integrating travelling exhibitions is part of our plans. Funding to assist with travelling exhibits would be very welcome.
Thank you for your question.
As I said, we're looking to diversify our sources of funding. Travelling exhibitions are part of a project we are studying at the moment. We have already started to take our exhibits on the road. Some of them, which can be called local or regional exhibits, feature artifacts from Quebec and Canada.
For about a year and a half now, we have been trying to do tours with historical exhibitions that showcase the great civilizations. We want to act as agents for European museums by organizing tours that feature objects from certain major museums. For example, next summer, we will presenting an exhibition on Egypt, in Montreal, and we want to tour it across North America, so in Canada and the United States.
Our teams need to dedicate time towards setting up the network. This is really about getting the necessary funding for our operations. Setting up a network is time-consuming, and our teams are also very busy with the exhibitions and educational programs. We work on events and we need to rent space. We also organize many cultural activities in the community.
Our resources are extremely busy. We have forty people or so currently working full time at our museum. We have seven pavilions to maintain. Establishing a series of international travelling exhibitions will require funding. We need people to set up this network and establish contact with these museums.
There is also the installation of exhibitions. When we physically install exhibits, the furniture must be adapted so that it can be transported everywhere. It must be stable, steady, and easy to set up and take down. We need funding to build this furniture, and staff time to develop an efficient system. That is what we're currently working on with our resources.
Yes, there is the Collège Saint-Anne and the museum. There was a truly seismic shift, and we were not prepared for it.
When the Grey Nuns came to see us, we told them that we didn't have the financial means to accommodate them. In terms of space, it's impossible. In terms of resources, our own operations are exhausting them. We go get our own resources. Nevertheless, we told them that we could help them. We worked with the Grey Nuns to find solutions and partners, as well as broaden our horizons. How will we work with the Ville de Montréal and the Government of Quebec? I believe that the federal government will also have a role to play.
Medium- and large-scale museums have an extremely important role to play. I think that we have the necessary expertise, and we can work with them in many ways. That is what we are doing at the moment, particularly with this project. We love it, and, at the same time, we feel like we have a responsibility. We do not believe that the government has to have all the solutions. We see ourselves as part of the solution, with our own resources.
Some museums are much worse off than us, and we are aware of this. We need to be very realistic here. We must renew ourselves. It's similar to a salvage operation. In an emergency situation, you first go for the elements that are easiest to save. Once you save them, you then go for the ones that are in the greatest amount of danger. That is what you do in a salvage operation. Therefore, we need to make sure that we are not imperilling those who are strong; rather, we must use them. We might need to fortify them in order to make everyone else a little stronger. In my opinion, that would be a fairly interesting way to operate.
I will answer the first question, and let my colleague answer the second.
The specific funding we got for the work done on the Parliament of the United Province of Canada came from the Ville de Montréal and the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, but mostly from the Ville de Montréal. Last year, we did the last major excavation campaign. This was a massive project, costing $6 million dollars. The visitors got access to the site throughout the whole summer. More than 25,000 people visited the archaeological site. It was a great success.
Unfortunately, we did not receive assistance from the federal government. However, we see this project as being phase 3. It is a development project in which we want to make the site accessible, and put a new pavilion on top of it. It is a huge site that is 100 metres long. It is probably Montreal's last, still intact, major archaeological site. It is extremely rich.
In terms of infrastructure, we have started talking with the federal government. Our director, Francine Lelièvre, has many contacts who work with federal programs. Things are going very smoothly. The same goes for our talks with the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec.
As you know, we have a new municipal administration. Therefore, we will resume, with the new administration, the talks we started with the previous one. The project itself is going along quite well. We hope that the issues with funding will be solved this year. This project will cost more than $100 million. The problem isn't so much our infrastructure as it is our operating budget.
With that amount, we could acquire additional equipment that would, in my opinion, reach out to all Canadians. This is about a piece of political history that took place in Old Montreal, on the grounds of the Parliament at the time when Montreal was the capital of United Canada, also referred to as the Province of Canada.
Operations are a major issue. As practically all the witnesses have said, operations are museums' main Achilles heel. The budget we receive annually allows us to carry out our operations smoothly for now, but, if we add the equivalent of the third of our museum, we will need more resources. Of course, we are not expecting our operating budget to be increased by one-third.
That being said, there will be needs, whether for operations, potential projects, guides we need on-site, educational programs, and exhibits that will take place in this new pavilion. It goes without saying that we will need to prepare an operating budget. As we said earlier, the Ville de Montréal is the only partner the museum has to fund its operations. We have no partnerships with either the Quebec or the Canadian government.
The site of the Parliament of the United Province of Canada is a great example. It has all the necessary qualities to become a national historic site. It could then receive funding from the federal government. In this case, I'm not talking about the construction project, just the operations. The question is how do we proceed, given that we are working on a municipal site. We are open to the idea of talking about innovative solutions with you.
Could existing federal agencies such as Parks Canada and the Canadian Museum of History have a role to play in this? Would an entity be created specifically for this purpose? Everything is on the table, and we hope to have good discussions with you on this issue.