CHPC Committee Report
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On 11 April 2017, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (the Committee) adopted the following motion:
That the Committee undertake a study of at least five meetings on cultural hubs and cultural districts in Canada, including their economic impacts, their effects on arts and culture in Canada, the role they play in city building, and how the federal government can foster and support their development.
Pursuant to this motion, the Committee held eight meetings, heard testimony from 53 witnesses between 13 February and 1 May 2018, and received 11 briefs. Witnesses included representatives from Canadian cultural hubs and districts, academics, as well as government officials. The Committee would like to thank all those who contributed to the study.
Following a summary of the federal government’s current initiatives regarding cultural hubs and cultural districts, this report presents the views expressed by witnesses in the following five areas:
During the first meeting of the study, the Committee heard from officials from the Arts Policy branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage (the Department): Ramzi Saad, Director General of the Arts Policy Branch, and Lise Laneville, director of Strategic Arts Support. Their presentation provided an overview of cultural hubs and cultural districts in Canada as well as the federal contribution to both sectors.
In their testimony, Mr. Saad and Ms. Laneville told the Committee that the main source of federal funding for cultural hubs is through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund (CCSF). In addition to the CCSF, cultural districts may also be eligible for federal support through the Canada Arts Presentation Fund.
The CCSF “supports the improvement, renovation and construction of arts and heritage facilities, as well as the acquisition of specialized equipment.” The CCSF also aims to increase and improve access for Canadians to performing arts, visual arts, media arts, and to museum collections and heritage exhibitions. As such, the CCSF provides grants and contributions for arts and heritage infrastructure projects across the country to improve facilities and infrastructure requirements. It is the only federal program with a dedicated mandate for arts and heritage infrastructure.
Between 2002 and 2017, 1,770 projects in 436 Canadian communities received funding through the CCSF, of which 80% were rural and remote communities or small urban centres. The budget of the CCSF is $30 million annually and the 2017 budget announced an additional $300 million over ten years, beginning in the fiscal year 2018-2019.
The objective of the Canada Arts Presentation Fund is to “provide Canadians access in their communities to a variety of professional artistic experiences by providing financial assistance to arts festivals and performing arts series, as well as their support organizations.” The budget of the Canada Arts Presentation Fund is $32 million annually, and budget 2016 provided an additional $0.5 million for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Mr. Saad explained that the program helps provide Canadians with more opportunities to attend cultural events:
Since the inception of the program in 2001, opportunities for Canadians to attend arts festivals, or performing arts series supported by the program, have tripled to over 600 annually in more than 250 communities across the country… more than 20 million people attend the program-supported festival series each year.
In their testimony, officials from the Department also presented the elements of the Creative Canada policy framework that apply to creative hubs. The policy, presented in September 2017 and entitled Creative Canada – A Vision for Canada’s Creative Industries, outlines the federal government’s vision to stimulate Canada’s entertainment and media industries.
One of the measures announced in the policy provides “support for the next generation of cultural spaces,” which includes a section on cultural hubs. The policy states:
A portion of this new investment will be made available for creative hubs that will help nurture and incubate the next generation of creative entrepreneurs and small business start-ups. Creative hubs are all about bringing people together—artists, cultural entrepreneurs and organizations—in spaces that encourage development and collaboration. Through this investment, Canadian creative talent will have access to spaces where they can build their entrepreneurial skills, create, collaborate and innovate, and help generate new markets for Canadian creativity in all its forms.
In his testimony, Mr. Saad informed the Committee that with this policy, new funding announced in the 2017 budget will be targeted towards creative hubs:
The additional investments under budget 2017 in the Canada cultural spaces fund will now enable the program to prioritize targeted support for creative hubs in order to advance the creative Canada vision by bringing together professionals from a range of arts or heritage sectors and creative disciplines while always continuing to invest in traditional arts and heritage infrastructure projects that remain part of its core business, such as museums, theatres, and performing arts centres.
Throughout the study, several witnesses offered their own interpretations of what constitutes a cultural hub or district. The lack of a set definition of a cultural hub was acknowledged by Mr. Saad, who gave the following definition:
… there is no set definition of a creative hub, but they are conceived and designed to encourage collaboration, innovation, and productivity. They are multi-tenant user facilities involving participants from a range of sectors and disciplines. They include some or all of the following characteristics: shared space, technology, and other resources; opportunities to develop collaboration and to exchange ideas; and public access and programming.
The Department also provided a definition of a cultural district:
… a well-recognized, branded, mixed use area where a high concentration of cultural facilities serve as an anchor of attraction. Facilities include amenities like performance spaces, museums, galleries, artist studios, arts-related shops, music or media production studios, dance studios, colleges for the arts, libraries, arboretums, and gardens. Because they are mixed use developments, cultural districts incorporate other facilities, such as office complexes, retail spaces, and occasionally residential areas.
Michael Spence, Associate Artistic Director and Performer at Theatre Gargantua (a multi‑disciplinary theatre located in Toronto), told the Committee:
Cultural hubs are where we gather to hear and tell stories. They are local, they are alive, and they are activated with authentic conversations. A well-designed hub will be inviting and vital: a place that focuses on the community that houses it and gives energy back to that community. It will provide space for local voices and also for hosting opportunities for work from other communities, both nationally and internationally.
Regarding cultural districts, Jacques Primeau, Chair of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership (a cultural and artistic site in Montreal), explained that:
A difference needs to be made also in that a cultural neighbourhood is not necessarily a neighbourhood where creation takes place. You may have a neighbourhood that disseminates creative works, but a cultural hub or pole implies creation, or a type of living environment where people help each other out and there is interaction among the artists.
Another aspect raised by some witnesses, such as Franco Boni, Artistic Director of the Theatre Centre (a Toronto-based theatre research and development hub), and Martin Théberge, President of the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française, is the role that cultural hubs and districts play in innovation. David Moss, Co-Executive Director of La Piscine (a Montreal-based artistic hub), recommended that more attention be paid to cultural innovation.
Some witnesses suggested that the Committee consider a broader definition of a cultural hub. In her testimony, Christa Dickenson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Interactive Ontario (a not‑for‑profit trade association), explained that a new kind of cultural hub, which combines art and technology start-ups, would be in accordance with the vision set out in the Creative Canada policy. She said that moving beyond a traditional understanding of a hub would give artists and entrepreneurs more opportunities.
A similar point of view was expressed by Liv Lunde, Executive Director of Gameplay Space (a Montreal-based gaming co-working space), who asked for the videogame industry to be recognized as a cultural endeavor. Christina Franc, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, recommended that the Department recognize that fairs and exhibitions are cultural hubs and “one of the best reflections of Canadian culture.” Jayne Engle, Program Director and Lead of Cities for People at the McConnell Foundation (a Montreal-based philanthropic foundation), told members that hubs are not just collaborative spaces, but also “democratizing spaces.”
Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer at the Canadian Film Centre, told the Committee that a cultural hub can be more than a physical space:
Indeed, cultural hubs, especially today in the digital age, could be seen as distributed networks of services—as spaces, of course, but most importantly as people-driven networks…we think cultural hubs should be seen as distributed networks.
Ashley Proctor, Executive Director of 312 Main (a Vancouver-based co-working space), explained that her organization follows the same guiding principles of collaboration and community engagement as other cultural hubs and should be considered as such.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada recognize community hubs that include a cultural organization as cultural hubs, especially in rural areas and small towns.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage broaden the definition of a cultural hub to, among others, consider new technological art forms.
Many witnesses highlighted the important roles cultural hubs and districts play in their communities and cities. For a number of witnesses, cultural hubs and districts can empower communities and foster inclusion. Witnesses spoke at length about the economic and social benefits of hubs, and the unique roles they play in neighbourhood rejuvenation and rural areas.
Dr. Veronika Mogyorody, Professor Emeritus at the University of Windsor, noted that the “activities within these centres have a positive effect on the individuals using them and can spill over into the communities in which they are located.” She added that the “formation of informal relationships between users of the centre could encourage the participation of neighbourhood residents and strengthen new ties.” Frédéric Julien, Co‑Chair of the Canadian Arts Coalition, noted that “cultural spaces and programming contribute to a sense of pride and a sense of belonging in the local community.”
Gilles Renaud, General Director of Ateliers créatifs Montréal (a Montreal-based non‑profit real estate developer), said that the presence of a hub can impact the overall quality of life in a neighbourhood. He said, “the artists are still contributing to public services and they bring a lot to the neighbourhood. What they bring to sustainable development and to the quality of life must be recognized.” Vincent Roy, Executive and Artistic Director of EXMURO arts publics (a Quebec City-based public art organization), agreed and noted that “the impact [of hubs] is really on quality of life.”
Ellen Hamilton, Executive Director of Qaggiavuut (a Nunavut-based non-profit arts and culture society), told the Committee that hubs “can build community and build skill[s].” Vincent Karetak, Chairperson of Qaggiavuut, told the Committee that Nunavut would benefit greatly from a creative hub that focuses the needs on the artists. He added that a hub could strengthen Inuit language and culture through training and presentation and provide interdisciplinary collaboration between artists and the technical and management fields of the performing arts and other sectors, including businesses, visual and media arts, elders, and educators. Ms. Hamilton further outlined Qaggiavuut’s vision for a hub:
Our dream for Qaggiq is to strengthen Nunavut performing artists ultimately. We want artists from across Nunavut to come to this hub and receive training and presentation opportunities to build their skills, create new work, promote their careers, and secure employment.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage encourage the integration of citizen and community-driven artistic activities into the policies, planning and programmes of cultural hubs.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage explore financial and tax measures to support innovations in urban entertainment, the development of cultural and social public places, and cultural hubs and neighbourhoods that want to act as testing beds for such initiatives.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage study the benefits of cultural hubs regarding the protection and promotion of Indigenous languages and cultures.
A number of witnesses noted that in addition to the cultural and social benefits of hubs, there are also important economic benefits to consider. Marie-Christine Morin, Acting Executive Director of Fédération culturelle canadienne-française, noted that “the [hub] sector has a major economic impact and contributes to the development of our communities. There is no doubt that it is an economic driver.”
Some witnesses mentioned that cultural hubs can promote tourism. Ms. Alanna Jankov, Chief Executive Officer of The Guild (a Charlottetown-based non‑profit corporation), noted:
It is my hope that you will recognize the importance and vital role that cultural hubs…play in their communities, their contributions to Canadian tourism and the cultural sector and, most importantly, to acknowledge our proven ability to be both fiscally responsible and culturally aware.
Ms. Lunde of Gameplay Space noted that hubs can have a critical economic impact for certain industries. For the game creator community, she said:
Independent game creators work in precarious conditions. In contrast to the large foreign-owned studios, their situation is much more unstable due to lack of funding, a competitive market, long development cycles, and a lack of business and marketing skills. A hub like ours allows for resource sharing to a critical mass of developers working side by side. This is true not only for the studios that work in our space every day but also for the community organizations that use our space for meet ups, workshops, showcases, etc. By honing their art in our community space, they inspire and mentor each other every day.
Mr. Moss of La Piscine recommended the creation of performance indicators in order to measure the economic impact of cultural hubs and districts at the local level and beyond.
Witnesses also told the Committee about how cultural hubs and districts can affect their neighbourhoods. Veronika Mogyorody, Professor Emeritus from the University of Windsor, discussed the role cultural hubs can play in reinventing communities within the context of downtown rejuvenation, historic preservation, and tourism. She said, “Artist centres that provide a multitude of services and opportunities can contribute to downtown revitalization.” Ms. Mogyorody added that arts and culture promote new life in the city. This opinion was shared by Mr. Roy of EXMURO, who added that art and culture belong in the “cultural lung” of the city.
Mr. Roy also discussed the role of culture and cultural hubs in neighbourhood rejuvenation and getting residents to return to the central neighbourhoods. The role of cultural districts was raised by Mr. Primeau of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, who explained that it is the partnership’s responsibility to:
…bring about a dynamic balance between the residents, the retailers, the business community and the cultural actors, all of whom benefit from the increased foot traffic generated by this cultural crossroads. The challenge consists in maintaining the residents' quality of life despite all of this effervescent activity.
Mr. Primeau also recognized that the development and success of a project such as the Quartier des Spectacles could have unintended effects and “could become an unaffordable area for many of its creators and its most dynamic venues.” In order to ensure that neighbourhoods are not negatively affected by these projects, he recommended the creation of a program that would “encourage creators, artists and cultural dissemination spaces to remain in the cultural neighbourhoods and hubs.”
While rent increases might not be as high outside of urban centres, Mark Sandiford, Executive Director of Creative PEI (a Charlottetown-based non-profit organization), told the Committee that they are beginning to see signs of gentrification as rental prices increase in Prince Edward Island.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada study the impacts of cultural districts, such as gentrification, in order to adopt measures encouraging affordable housing and artistic spaces in cultural districts.
The Committee also heard that it is important to consider the unique role that cultural hubs play in rural areas. Jack Hayden, Chair of the Board of Governors at the Rosebud School of the Arts (an educational centre and theatre located in Rosebud, Alberta), held that “we don't think the arts and exposure to culture is an urban thing. We think it's a Canadian thing. Our belief is that it needs to be made available to the students in rural as well as urban Canada.”
In the brief it submitted to the Committee, Canadian Coalition for the Arts outlined the role of rural hubs:
In a rural or remote setting, it is entirely possible for a single arts facility (possibly run by a single arts organization) to be the anchor of attraction for the entire local arts community, as well as for local residents. This single facility can serve an equivalent function as an urban cultural hub, provided it is equipped with mixed-use spaces that can accommodate a range of artistic practices and community activities.
Tim Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Artscape (a Toronto-based non-profit urban development organization), discussed the impact hubs can have in rural areas. He said:
The idea of clustering creative people together can have an impact in a rural context equal to the impact in an urban one. Look at the great success of what's happened in Prince Edward County, with putting together the winemakers, the beer makers, the cheese makers, and the artisans. They are there in a place that used to not have much of an identity. That's an example of how this principle of clustering, bringing people together in a rural context, can have a profound impact on both the local economy and the identity of the place.
Ms. Franc of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions suggested that fairs and exhibitions in rural areas acts as hubs, and can bring isolated communities together.
The particular challenges faced by hubs in rural settings were outlined by the Canadian Arts Coalition:
Among many things, raising funds can be very difficult: the number of potential corporate and individual donors is limited in a small centre and their financial capacity follows that of the local economy. Consequently, programs such as the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund must adapt their expectations for matching funds when applications originate from a rural or remote area.
Throughout its study, the Committee heard about the importance of a collaborative approach for hubs and districts, not only on the part of the government, but also between cultural hubs and districts. In her testimony, Ms. Judith Marcuse, Founder and Co-Director of the International Centre of Art for Social Change, stressed “how important it is that there be connection between the silos.” Mr. Hayden of Rosebud School for the Arts agreed, saying that “better coordination in the future is going to be extremely important to the survival of all of us.”
A number of witnesses told the Committee that partnerships are key to the success of cultural hubs and districts. For Mr. Roy of EXMURO, it is through these partnerships that projects are generated. Mr. Boni shared this view. Jacquie Thomas, Theatre Gargantua’s Artistic Director, Mr. Théberge and Amy Terrill, Executive Vice-President of Music Canada provided examples of such partnerships. Oliver Pauk, Co-Director of Akin (a Toronto-based organization that provides affordable working space for artists), explained what the federal government could do to help foster such partnerships:
…there is a lack of cultural policy to support these initiatives and a need for more gatherings with the purpose of sharing information on this subject. Government should help bring organizations in this field together and facilitate sharing of knowledge and the building of community at local, provincial, and national levels.
Witnesses also mentioned that there are opportunities for collaboration between urban and rural hubs. Regarding the difference between the rural and urban markets, Heather Campbell, Program Manager at Small (an independent network that brings together local and national affiliates to find solutions for rural communities), explained:
In small or rural communities, and remote communities especially, there's often not an audience or a significant market that can support a lot of cultural activities or cultural small businesses. What we see is a need for market infrastructure that can connect rural communities to urban centres or connect networks of smaller communities so that they can build their market capacities, build their audiences, and build connections with collectors or supporters. Again, this is a form of infrastructure that goes beyond just the normal hub concept and really connects different hubs or different facilities.
Witnesses such as Ms. Jankov of The Guild and Mr. Renaud of Ateliers Créatifs Montréal cited examples of how their own cultural hub collaborated with rural communities. Alexandre Fortin, Vice-President of Regroupement Pied Carré (a cultural hub in Montréal that brings together artists, artisans and workers from the cultural sector), added that the creation of a network that could connect hubs to each other would be extremely beneficial to all creators.
Building on the idea of a network of cultural hubs, Caroline Salaün, General Manager at Méduse (a Québec City-based arts and culture hub), recommended that the government create a “Canadian Cultural Centre” designation that could help showcase Canadian content and talent. Mr. Primeau of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership made a similar recommendation to encourage exchange of works, expertise and innovation in cultural districts. Rosebud School of the Arts suggested that the government could “formally acknowledge where Canada’s cultural hubs are located.” Johann Zietsman, president and Chief Executive Offiver of Arts Commons (an arts centre in Calgary), also recommended the creation of a label at the national level.
Ms. Serrano of the Canadian Film Centre added that an international connection between hubs is also vital:
A hub is only good if it is actually connected to other hubs internationally. It's very important. Although we may be looking at creating these vibrant, intersectional, inter-sectoral spaces and networks in our communities in Canada, unless they are also somehow connected to other spaces abroad, their impact is likely limited.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada explore how to better support collaboration between cultural hubs by creating a network to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage develop and implement a program to increase the international influence of cultural hubs and districts in Canadian cities by specifically supporting the international distribution of Canadian creations and innovations in terms of public art and digital technologies adapted for entertainment and events in public spaces.
Some witnesses also mentioned the need for collaboration between the non-profit and the for-profit sectors. Ms. Serrano told the Committee that a public-private sector model would be preferable, especially for a wide-ranging hub. For Andrew Mosker, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Music Centre (a Calgary-based centre that preserves and celebrates Canada’s music story), both sectors need to work together and “there needs to be some latitude” between the two.
In addition, Mr. Primeau discussed a project between the two sectors that has been beneficial to all:
We managed to gather data on all of the Quartier des spectacles venues and their operations. Over time, we were able to create a set of pooled data, thanks to a private intervention by the firm Aimia, which does philanthropic data work. They lent us about a hundred specialists to analyze the behaviour of spectators in the Quartier des spectacles, that is to say to find out at what time, where, and when they purchase their tickets, whether they are men or women, and whether they live in the suburbs or close to Montreal. Thanks to that information we have a much clearer idea of where we are going. None of these venues would have had the means to obtain that data on its own.
The Quartier des Spectacles Partnership saw the risk-sharing opportunities provided by a hub or a district as an advantage, and encouraged the government to acknowledge this fact when assessing projects.
In their brief, Brick and Mortar (a non-profit company that provides affordable spaces to Toronto-based artists and cultural companies) recommended that the government support partnerships “where artists can mentor with professionals in private sector businesses to learn more about how that knowledge/skills can be applied to the arts.”
Some witnesses also told the Committee that collaboration between all levels of government and cultural hubs and districts was necessary.
Specifically, the Committee heard that the federal government could play a crucial role in bringing different government stakeholders to work more efficiently together. Mr. Moss of La Piscine said that this could “ensure alignment of local priorities, opportunities, challenges, and programs.” Kathy Ouellette, General Director of Centre Materia (a non-profit exhibition centre located in Québec City), added that it was important that government trusts stakeholders in their decision-making process. Mr. Spence of Theatre Gargantua also recommended that the government help hubs and districts create partnerships between all levels of government in order to leverage stakeholders into supporting their mission. Mr. Sandiford of Creative P.E.I. told the Committee that the best way to collaborate would be to meet with all government stakeholders:
I think the mechanism for this is to have partner meetings to find the relevant person in the provincial, municipal, or territorial government and a few of the key other partners in the ecosystem and have regular meetings to figure out where we are going and how we can do these things better together. I think working in isolation is going to be a problem for us. Working together is going to lead to success—again, with the focus being hyperlocal.
Some witnesses made other suggestions as to how governments can collaborate more efficiently. For example, Ms. Franc of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions said that the government could help cultural hubs and districts as well as fairs by supporting research and data collection. A similar recommendation was made by Pierre Fortin, Executive Director of the Quartier des Spectacles partnership. In addition, Ms. Engle of the McConnell Foundation recommended that the government set up “digital and data strategies…and consider how to better democratize data assets.”
Sarah Douglas-Murray, Vice-President of Creative City Network of Canada (a national non-profit organization formed of Canadian municipalities as well as individuals and organizations), explained that in terms of funding, the municipal, provincial and federal level ought to work together “to develop funding agreements and frameworks for the development and renewal of cultural infrastructure.” Ms. Marcuse of the International Centre of Art for Social Change agreed with Ms. Douglas-Murray and added that there needs to be consultation between all levels of government as well as private foundations.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada collaborate with the Canadian Federation of Municipalities to: i) study how to improve collaboration between all levels of government regarding support of cultural hubs; ii) encourage municipalities to offer tax incentives for the creation and development of cultural hubs; iii) increase access to real estate for cultural hub activities.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada explore the establishment of a digital strategy with the goal of increasing access to and sharing of information between cultural hubs.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage support research and data collection for the development of cultural hubs and districts.
Many witnesses told the Committee that the financial resources available to cultural hubs and districts in Canada are limited. Dr. Mogyorody noted that “enthusiasm for cultural districts is generally quite high, but the necessary ongoing resources to support their needs and monitor their success is regularly left wanting.”
Mr. Zietsman of Arts Commons outlined some of the major financial concerns:
Some of the things that I think would help the development of new cultural hubs, and the sustaining of current cultural hubs…are streamlining, fast-tracking, and aligning various government application and funding programs; lowering the access threshold, especially for emerging and community arts organizations and individuals; and increasing predictable sustainability through multi-year funding for projects and the operation and maintenance of spaces.
This section outlines the primary challenges raised by witnesses in terms of operational funding, human resources and assistance through tax incentives.
A number of witnesses told the Committee that obtaining adequate operational funding is their greatest challenge. Mr. Saad of the Department of Canadian Heritage noted that he was not aware of any sources of public funding that support hub operations:
We look to the Canada cultural spaces fund for the proponents to bring together the private resource support to look at the programming within the space, but the fund does not support the operations, maintenance, and programming within the space. We're very much focused on the physical conditions that are in place.
Ms. Campbell of Small noted that there are often various means of financial support for the establishment of a new cultural hub or facility, however hubs do not achieve the same level of support for ongoing operations. Mr. Sandiford of Creative P.E.I. raised a similar point and made the following recommendation:
Facilities are great, but I think that too much emphasis has been put on infrastructure and not enough on programming. Canadian Heritage needs to extend its excellent cultural spaces fund to give hubs the consistent organizational funding to allow hubs to be staffed and to deliver programming.
Some witnesses suggested there is a gap in the current funding structure for hubs. Kate Cornell, Co-Chair of Canadian Arts Coalition, said:
Many of the existing hubs … are struggling to remain open. Hydro and heating costs make it expensive to operate these vital centres, especially when the buildings include theatres, galleries, and studios, which have unique, specialized requirements in heating and lighting. This is a gap in the funding system that the members of the coalition want to bring to the government's attention.
Mr. Spence of Theatre Gargantua emphasized this point. He said:
Currently there is no place where cultural hubs can go for ongoing operating costs. This significant gap in the system has put cultural hubs, once built, in a position of competing with their own cultural programming for use of funds from the Canada Council for the Arts. There needs to be funding through the Department of Canadian Heritage for the not very sexy operations of hub spaces, since that's not something that sponsors and donors are really keen to contribute to.
Ms. Lunde of Gameplay Space noted that an issue with the current funds available to hubs is that they are often project-based, and do not help with the day-to-day financial needs. Kasey Dunn, Founder of Brick and Mortar, suggested that:
Rather than grants that offer artists one-time funding for projects, we would love to see a focus on company development and sustainability like the type of start-up grants offered to entrepreneurs in other fields.
As a solution, Mrs. Salaün of Méduse suggested that rather than receiving a one-time grant every five to 10 years, cultural hubs and centres be provided with “on-going financial assistance annually in order to make up for this long wait and to prevent the infrastructure from deteriorating.” Other witnesses, such as Mr. Roy of EXMURO, and the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions agreed that financial stability, in the form of grants for operations, would be of great assistance for the development and growth of hubs.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage review the structure of the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund to provide sustainable funding to support the long-term objectives and projects of cultural hubs.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage simplify the funding application process for cultural hubs.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage make grants and funding more flexible as well as applicable on a multi-year basis rather than an annual basis.
Witnesses told the Committee of the various challenges related to the staffing of cultural hubs.
The retention of staff, said Ms. Ouellette of the Centre Materia, “is extremely difficult.” Materia’s brief noted the impact of frequent staffing changes:
These staff movements hinder the centre’s development and make it difficult to form stable business relationships. There is practically no marketing, corporate functionality is tenuous, and we are constantly losing expertise, not to mention the time and expense involved in hiring and training staff.
Ms. Jankov of The Guild echoed this view, stating that most paid positions are based on short-term grants, “once you get them trained, you don’t have the money to keep them.”
Regarding the hiring of students, Ms. Jankov suggested expanding the eligibility of students in the Student Work-Integrated Learning Program be extended to arts organizations and students studying the arts.
Ms. Jankov also told the Committee that some hubs struggle to complete applications for funding because staff is limited. She asked for the application processes to be simplified and stated:
Sometimes an application process to receive a $5,000 bit of funding would take days to prepare, and then there is the reporting process that goes with it. Perhaps there is a way to simplify that process She mentioned that some applications take days to prepared… If there were a way that we could even have three-year contracts, it would simplify life so much. I spend so much time proving my existence that I then run out of time to do what I should be doing.
Ms. Dunn of Brick and Mortar held that hubs are in “dire need” of resources for training of staff and artists. She said that “within hubs themselves, funding is needed to administer training, workshops, and mentorship programs that can guide artists on how to use our spaces effectively.”
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada expand youth skills development programs to include arts organizations.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada extend the length of the Canada Summer Jobs placements.
According to Dr. Mogyorody, creative hubs do not have “the philanthropy in the community either. We have to find ways we can get investment into the community…” Mr. Hayden of the Rosebud School of the Arts further noted that “it's also hard to attract corporate sponsorship because we are not very visible.”
In light of these issues, some witnesses, including the Quartier des spectacles partnership, recommended that the government introduce additional tax measures to support the development of cultural and social public spaces, cultural hubs and districts.
Ms. Thomas of Theatre Gargantua suggested specific tax incentives be provided for donations to cultural assets. Mr. Jones of Artscape also suggested changes to Canada Revenue Agency’s regulations regarding how charities may invest in properties. He said:
Currently CRA regulations really restrict a charity's ability to invest in facilities, particularly these facilities that cobble together non-profits and charities and other uses in the same place, so we need a renewal of the regulation with respect to investment by charities in capital projects.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada Review the Canada Revenue Agency’s regulations regarding the ability of charitable organizations to invest in facilities and capital projects.
While funding was an important issue raised by witnesses, the Committee heard that infrastructure was also important. As explained by Mr. Renaud of Ateliers Créatifs Montréal:
One of the difficulties with projects of this kind is clearly the funding which has two aspects. First, there is the physical location, meaning the buildings, the renovation work, the equipment, and so on. Then there is the operation, which is all about the concept of the centre.
Dr. Mogyorody added that “if cultural placemaking is actually important, then creating more humble spaces specifically for the arts is absolutely essential.”
Witnesses explained that infrastructure is needed both to create new hubs and districts, and also to ensure sustainability and growth. As will be discussed below, some witnesses recommended that programs be dedicated for that purpose and argued in favour of an easier access to working space.
In her testimony, Ms. Cornell of the Canadian Arts Coalition mentioned the difficulties of finding funding for cultural infrastructure due to a lack of consistency between federal and provincial programs. She explained:
With a significant absence of parallel programs to the Canada cultural spaces fund at the provincial level, arts organizations are left in a compromised position of lobbying provincial governments for discretionary matching funds for their cultural infrastructure projects. Currently, the bilateral agreements are the only regulatory indication that the provinces need to consider cultural hub projects. Therefore, the Canadian Arts Coalition recommends that future provincial bilateral agreements be permanently required to include a broad consideration of new cultural projects.
Mr. Julien of the Canadian Arts Coalition added that the Cultural Spaces Fund “is an ideal mechanism for helping arts organizations renovate older infrastructure and initiate feasibility studies for new buildings.”
The idea of making old government buildings accessible to artists and creators to be transformed into a cultural hub was raised by Mr. Jones of Artscape. He explained:
[There] is a lot of interesting innovation happening around the disposal of surplus government property… I think this is an area that really needs to be looked into at the federal level, how we can use old post office buildings and old government buildings to deliver social benefit and financial return at the same time.
Mr. Spence of Theatre Gargantua recommended the creation of a policy “whereby public lands cannot be disposed of without first assessing their potential for, and making them available as, cultural hubs.” One suggestion made by Mr. Zietsman of Arts Commons was to reduce red tape and make the process “more seamless” through “city planning, development, codes, permitting, funding.” Jean-Yves Vigneau, President of La Filature (a non-profit corporation that manages a multi-purpose space ) and professional artist, explained that they are not asking for the government to do the work on their behalf, but for support for infrastructure and equipment. Akin asked for a “meanwhile leases” program in which unoccupied buildings and lands are used for social purposes until they become commercial spaces once again.
In addition to physical infrastructure, the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française told the Committee that there is also a need for mobile and virtual infrastructure. They argued that by this virtual aspect “will be crucial to the survival of the network of creative centres.” Mr. Théberge explained that since their community is “very spread out and remote,” the government ought to “address the social and technological aspects right away” when it comes to the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage study the possibility of converting vacant historical buildings, including former post offices and government buildings, into cultural hubs.
For some witnesses, a lack of access to space to create is a major issue for artists today. Ms.Dunn, whose organization, Brick and Mortar, provides working space to artists, explained:
We opened the spaces because we believed that a lack of space was the main challenge facing artists. We have discovered that although the cost of space is a problem to artists, this is really more a symptom of a bigger problem. Even when we are able to offer space for free, it doesn't guarantee the type of success artists need, nor does it lead to sustainable employment.
Several witness raised the issue of the rising cost of real estate in urban centres such as Toronto and Montreal. Ms. Thomas of Theatre Gargantua said that finding appropriate and affordable space, especially one close to public transit systems, is a great challenge for artists. Mr. Fortin of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership explained that in downtown Montreal, where the Quartier des Spectacles is located, a new model is being tried out to help face the increase in real estate prices. He recommended the creation of “specific measures to encourage affordable housing in the cultural hubs and neighborhoods.”
In order to help cultural groups face this issue, Mr. Pauk of Akin recommended that the federal government offer “below-market rent policy” for public buildings. He also asked for new regulations to “require more concrete, useful awarding of budget and space from developments to artists or community groups.” Akin also recommended the creation of a new property tax subclass at the federal level “that attaches the funding and financial assistance not only to building owners and landlords, but to their tenants” which, in their opinion would not only benefit artists and the cultural sector.
For Dr. Mogyorody, the government should invest in cultural infrastructure, as “providing spaces to work, produce, rehearse, meet, learn, and mentor are cost-effective ways to contribute to the cultural economy.” In their brief, the Canadian Arts Coalition said that affordable housing policies could help ensure the sustainability of cultural hubs.
The Committee heard from many witnesses about the role that cultural hubs and districts play in bringing their communities together and promoting inclusion. Witnesses also highlighted a number of challenges that they face in terms of financial and human resources, as well as infrastructure.
The Committee learned that the concepts of cultural hubs and districts are fluid. As such, the Committee’s recommendations focus on providing cultural hubs and districts with flexible support. Namely, the recommendations in this report aim to promote collaboration between cultural hubs and all levels of government and reduce administrative barriers. The Committee also recognizes the need for additional research on these topics and to increase access to data. With these recommendations, the Committee hopes to provide better support for the development and sustainability of cultural hubs and districts across Canada.
 Department of Canadian Heritage, ”Cultural Districts and Creative Hubs”, Presentation to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, 13 February 2018.
 Creative hub is the term used by the Department. In the context of this report, the term is interchangeable with cultural hub.
 For examples, see: CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 24 April 2018, 0900 (Ms. Amy Terrill, Executive Vice-President, Music Canada); CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 24 April 2018, 1005 (Ms. Sarah Douglas-Murray, Vice-President, Creative City Network of Canada); CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 26 April 2018, 0900 (Mr. David Moss, Co-Executive Director, La Piscine); CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 27 March 2018, 0910 (Ms. Heather Campbell, Program Manager, Small); CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 26 April 2018, 0950 (Ms. Kasey Dunn, Founder, Brick and Mortar); CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 29 March 2018, 1010 (Ms. Jayne Engle, Program Director, Lead, Cities for People, McConnell Foundation).
 See: CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 26 April 2018, 1035 (Mr. Franco Boni, Artistic Director, The Theatre Centre); and CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 1 May 2018, 1000 (Mr. Martin Théberge, President, Fédération culturelle canadienne-française).
 Ibid., 0855.
 Ibid., 0855.
 Ibid., 1000.
 Ibid., 0915.
 Canadian Coalition for the Arts, “Supplementary brief to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage,” Submitted Brief, May 2018.
 Canadian Coalition for the Arts, “Supplementary brief to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage,” Submitted Brief, May 2018
 See: CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 24 April 2018, 1035 (Ms. Jacquie Thomas, Artistic Director, Theatre Gargantua); CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 1 May 2018, 1025 (Mr. Martin Théberge, President, Fédération culturelle canadienne-française); and CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 24 April 2018, 0900 (Ms. Amy Terrill, Executive Vice-President, Music Canada).
 See: CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 19 April 2018, 0935 (Ms. Alanna Jankov, Chief Executive Officer, The Guild); and CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 19 April 2018, 0930 (Mr. Gilles Renaud, General Director, Ateliers créatifs Montréal).
 Ibid., 1000.
 Quartier des Spectacles partnership, “MONTREAL QUARTIER DES SPECTACLES PARTNERSHIP BRIEF following consultations with the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage concerning Cultural Hubs and Cultural Districts in Canada,” Submitted Brief, May 2018. See also: CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 24 April 2018, 0930 (Mr. Jacques Primeau, Chair, Quartier des Spectacles Partnership).
 Brick and Mortar, “Support Materials for the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in view of its study of Cultural Hubs and Cultural Districts in Canada,” Submitted Brief, May 2018.
 Centre Materia, “Brief Presented to a House of Commons Parliamentary Committee,” Submitted Brief, 23 April 2018.
 The Student Work-Integrated Learning Program is a federal government program that assists post-secondary students in science, technology, engineering, math and business programs get work experience. See: Government of Canada, Student Work Placements—Student Work-Integrated Learning Program.
 Ibid., 0915.
 Montreal quartier des spectacles partnership, “Montreal quartier des spectacles partnership brief following consultations with the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage concerning Cultural Hubs and Cultural Districts in Canada,” Submitted Brief, 20 April 2018.
 See, for example: CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 26 April 2018, 1030 (Mr. Vincent Roy, Executive and Artistic Director, EXMURO arts publics); CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 24 April 2018, 0855 (Mr. Michael Vickers, Co-Director, Akin); CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 19 April 2018, 0900 (Mr. Gilles Renaud, General Director, Ateliers créatifs Montréal); CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 24 April 2018, 0900 (Ms. Amy Terrill, Executive Vice-President, Music Canada).
 See: CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 24 April 2018, 0950 (Ms. Jacquie Thomas, Artistic Director, Theatre Gargantua), and CHPC, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 24 April 2018, 1020 (Ms. Jacquie Thomas, Artistic Director, Theatre Gargantua).
 Ibid., 0915.
 Canadian Arts Coalition, “Supplementary brief to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage,” Submitted Brief, May 2018.